Weddings: The Origins Of Wedding Symbolism

By Anne Mihelakos

Have you ever wondered where some of our wedding traditions have originated? Well read on …The Wedding Ring, traditionally a plain, gold band, is the oldest surviving symbol of marriage. The circle represents eternity and never-ending love, while the gold represents purity of intent. It is placed on the fourth finger of the left-hand as it was believed that a vein called the Vena Amoris ran straight from it to the heart.

The throwing of the Garter by the groom to unmarried men and the Bouquet by the bride to unmarried girls is believed to bring good luck and marriage to whomever they are caught by.
The conventional white Dress is said to be a sign of purity and high virtues. Green signifies youth, hope and happiness. Red denotes vigour, courage and passion, while violet symbolises dignity, pride and high ideals.

Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue Something Old could be a piece of jewellery or something from a happily married woman as a blessing of matrimonial bliss. This represents the married woman’s links with her family and her past.
Something New depicts the new life that the bride is starting – usually this is her dress or shoes.

Something Borrowed is to remind the bride of the need to rely on others for help. This is normally gold, representing the sun, the source of life.
Something Blue, usually the garter, denotes faithfulness and is a compliment to the moon, protector of women.

Honeymoon – about 4000 years ago in Babylon it was the accepted practise that after a wedding the bride’s father would supply his new son-in-law with all the beer he could drink for a month. The beer, called mead, was a honey-based beer, and because the Babylonian calendar was lunar-based the period became known as the honey month, or as we know it today, the honeymoon.

Ringing of the wedding bells after the ceremony. This was meant to scare away the evil spirits that could destroy the couple’s happiness.

The Bridal Bouquets. In ancient times, the first bridal bouquets were made of not only flowers but special herbs and spices. This was done to ward off the evil spirits. They also used particular herbs that symbolized fertility.

Throwing rice (or birdseed) as the couple departs. The birdseed was thrown to promote fertility.

The Receiving Line – In ancient times, it was believed that the bride and groom were blessed. Those who touched them would have good luck.

Bride and groom cut the cake and then feed each other. Feeding each other the cake symbolizes how the couple will “feed” and nourish the relationship for the rest of their lives. Now, this was meant as loving and caring symbol for each other. As for the “smearing” and pushing cake into each other’s faces? No one knows how that started… Hopefully, that’s a “tradition” that will die out!

Giving almonds at a wedding symbolises the bitter and sweet aspect of married life. The five almonds represent Love, Happiness, Loyalty, Prosperity and Virility.

Anne Mihelakos is the owner of True Bride, your ultimate wedding directory, good wedding guide and home to the Bride of the Year competition. With over 15,000 wedding suppliers across Australia, including everything from wedding dresses to the honeymoon registry – a fantastic resource for planning your wedding day. For more information, visit the website