Wedding Traditions

What does Bridal mean?

The brew the bride and groom would drink was referred to as “bryd ealu” or “bride’s ale,” which became “bridal”. An old meaning of ale was feast or celebration but this evolved into bridal somewhere in the 14th century, when it was used to mean the totality of the wedding, not just the feasting afterwards.

Bride: One theory: the word bride derives from mediaeval Latin and old French which means only one thing – a daughter-in-law.

Bridegroom: Language experts suggest that before 1066 that the word was bryd-guma, bryd meaning bride, and guma, a variant of the Latin word homo, meaning man.

Within 2 centuries guma had disappeared as a stand-alone word and bryd-guma had evolved as bryd-gome (gome being an old English word for man, as in Gawain and the Grene Gome).

The word groom only became associated with horses much later (the 17th century).

What does Wedding mean?

Wedding literally meant the purchase of a bride for breeding purposes.

The word wedding comes from the root meaning to gamble or wager. The Anglo-Saxon word “wedd” meant that the groom would vow to marry the woman, but it also meant the money or barter that the groom paid the bride’s father. This is believed why it is still customary for the father-of-the-bride to ‘give away’ his daughter.

“Tie the Knot”

To “Tie the Knot”, came from the Roman times when the bride wore a girdle that was tied into knots which the groom had the fun of untying.

You may Kiss the Bride –

The kiss that seals the wedding has long been a token of bonding and the exchange of spirits as each partner sends a part of their self into the new spouse’s soul, there to abide ever after.

Bride’s side/Groom’s side

In ancient days, fathers would offer daughters as peace offerings to warring tribes. Because of the hostility, the families were placed on opposite sides of the church so the ceremony could go on without bloodshed. The ceremony united the two warring factions into one family, and danger of war was resolved.

Bride on the Left –

One thought on the origin of the bride standing on the left goes back to the days when the groom would capture his bride by kidnapping her. If the groom had to fight off other suitors, the groom would hold his bride-to-be with his left hand allowing his right hand to be free to use his sword.

The Attendants –

The tradition of bridesmaids evolved from the custom of surrounding the Bride with other richly dressed women, in order to confuse the evil spirits.

The first marriages were by capture. The best man would help the groom fight off other men who wanted the chosen woman, and prevent her family from finding them. The best warrior would stand for the groom, thus the best man.

Confetti or Rice throwing

Showering couples was a tradition thought to have originated in order to keep evil spirits away from the newly married couple. In some cultures the bride and groom were showered with sweets and flour, small fruits and nuts. Rice, grain and corn have always been symbols of fertility. Confetti was thought to be an evolution of these although these days rose petals are more environmentally friendly.

Something old something new, something borrowed, something blue (and occasionally “and a sixpence in the shoe)…

The “old” needs to be something which has belonged to a happily married woman. The wearing of such an item insures a lucky transfer of happiness to the new bride. The “new” is the wedding gown, the shoes, or other bridal attire. The “borrowed” must be some object of gold to guarantee wealth and fortune in the future. The “blue” is symbolic of the heavens and also of true love. The “sixpence” must be worn in the heel of the left shoe to insure wealth and prosperity.

Groom’s flower

Traditionally, the Groom’s buttonhole was adorned with a single flower plucked from the Bride’s bouquet. This came from the medieval days when a Knight wore his the colours of his lady to show his love.


The word honey is from “meala” in Irish. The word for honeymoon is “mi na meala”, the ‘month of honey’ and refers to how the bride and groom would spend that period of time. In Bulgaria, couples were locked away together for a week!

Irish monks first produced the fermented honey brew called mead for medicinal purposes; then found it could make well people feel even better. Following the wedding a sufficient amount of mead was given to the bride and groom, along with special goblets, so they could share the unique brew for one full moon after the wedding–and thus the term honeymoon was coined. It was believed that this delicate yet potent drink was the best way to ensure a good beginning for a new marriage and it was also believed to endow powers of virility and fertility.

It is also lucky that if on the journey to the church
the bride to sees a policeman, clergyman,
doctor or a blind man on the way to the wedding.

Wedding Traditions From Different Cultures

African American: Jumping the broom. Slaves were not permitted to marry in America. They would have a public declaration of love and commitment by jumping over a broom to the beat of drums.

Cuban: Cuban wedding receptions are famous for their festivities. There is almost always lively music and dancing at a Cuban marriage celebration. Wedding Guests partake in the traditional money dance, where each man who dances with the new bride must pin money to her dress, to help the newlyweds with their honeymoon expenses.

England: (FLOWER GIRL) The children act more as “pages” mainly to hold the train…….actually this was done by a young boy.

India: To ward off evil, the groom’s mother would sprinkle flower petals over the couple at the end of the ceremony.

Irish Tradition: (For Good Luck)

Sun shining on the bride.
To hear a cuckoo on the wedding morning
To see three magpies.
After the wedding ceremony, it was important that a man and not a woman be the first to wish joy to the new bride

Italian traditions: To ward off evil eye, the groom would carry a piece of iron in his pocket on his wedding day, since his happy situation might provoke envy, and invite supernatural danger. (As well the bride wore a veil to ward of evil) Tearing the veil was considered good luck.

At the end of the wedding day, the couple shattered a vase or glass into many pieces. The number of pieces represented the expected number of years they’ll be happily married to one another.

Common theme, past and present, emphasizes food. A strong link with family life, food is the focal point of festivities. The sheer volume of food reflects how highly anticipated and festive a typical Italian wedding is. The elaborate wedding of the couple brings together the friends and relatives of both families in a celebration of their new relationship.

Japan: To become husband and wife, the couple takes sips of sake, becoming husband and wife after the first sip.

Jewish Tradition: The Jewish Chuppa canopy offered a sanctuary from evil spirits.

Mexican: For fun & entertainment, a traditional piñata. And guests would form a heart–shaped ring around the couple before the first newlywed dance.

Scottish Beliefs: For good fortune, a bride should be met at the door after the wedding ceremony by her mother, who must then break a currant bun over her daughter’s head.

Sweden: Swedish wives wear three wedding rings: for betrothal, for marriage, and for motherhood.

Wales: Spooning: coined by lovesick men of Wales. A suitor carved a spoon of wood and presented it to his beloved. If she wore it around her neck on a ribbon, she returned his love and they were engaged.