Traditions are ideas and beliefs that have been passed down between generations. In the case of wedding traditions, many generations have passed the age-old traditions of rings, veils, and more onto the next generation, and a lot of wedding traditions date back hundreds of years.
Many people see weddings as a string of traditions, one after the other – and they wouldn’t be all that wrong! Weddings themselves are a timeless tradition, a ritual-like event that holds more symbolic meaning than anything else.
I think it is important, though, to ponder where these traditions come from, as a lot of them are rooted in outdated ideas.
When you go about picking the traditions you feel are important for your special day, ask each other some questions:
Do we really need this? Why are we doing this? Does this tradition reflect *us*?
To have and to hold, or to throw out the window?
Photo: Dee & Jo’s Wedding
1. Walking Down The Aisle
This is a tradition that is rooted in a time in history when women were seen differently than they are in modern times. If you like the idea of walking down the aisle, make this tradition one that is filled with sentiment. There are many different ways of doing this, so find what suits you best and go with that! Another consideration is the bride being there to greet the guests, along with the groom… Something to think about?
2. The Wedding Dress
Who says your wedding dress has to be white and the label must read ‘Wedding Dress’? Who says you must wear your hair in an up-do and have shiny white shoes to match? Who says your groom must wear a black suit and shave?
Being yourself on your wedding day deepens the value and meaning of the commitment you’re making to your spouse. It makes it more authentic. So if you’re not a white dress, black suit sort of couple, why change yourself to fit a mold? Bust out your sneakers and don a black gown if that’s more your jam.
3. Bridal Party
Choosing your bridal party can sometimes be quite the challenge in the hopes of including all your closest friends. Plus, spending thousands of rands on dresses and suits to only be worn for one day.
The tradition came from a superstition that evil spirits would attack the bride, so they would ‘trick’ the spirits with the other ladies and hoped she would survive!
4. The Church
If you’re not the religious type, why would you get married in a church? Today, you are no longer restricted to only do the official stuff in a church building. Be creative and choose a place that is special to you both.
Also consider your officiant. Is it someone who has witnessed your journey as a couple? Why not ask some family members or close friends to speak some words of wisdom and encouragement over the two of you. This will make your day memorable and more personal.
5. The Veil
When marriages were arranged by family members, the newly weds very rarely were allowed to see each other. Family members exchanging a dowry were afraid that if the groom didn’t like the bride’s face, he might refuse to marry her. This is why the father of the bride ‘gave the bride away’ to the groom at the actual wedding ceremony. Only after lifting her veil just prior to the ceremony did the groom see the bride’s face for the first time!
Early Greek and Roman brides wore red or yellow veils to represent fire and ward off demons.
6. The Bouquet Toss
In ancient times, it was believed that the bride was especially lucky on her wedding day. Guests would sometimes tear at her dress for a souvenir piece of good luck to take home. Imagine that! The bride’s tossing of her bouquet grew from her desire to offer a good luck souvenir, and prevent guests from bothering her.
7. The First Dance
If you don’t really dance why make this an important milestone on your wedding day? Feeling uncomfortable with these unfamiliar dancing shoes on really shows on your face. Why not try a slow dance that does not need hours of rehearsing and just settling into the moment of being together.
8. Wedding Cake
During the days of the Roman Empire, wedding cakes were baked of wheat or barley. At the reception, they were traditionally broken over the head of the new bride by the groom to symbolise her fertility. Guests would then scramble for pieces of cake, and take them home for good luck.
During the reign of King Charles ll, the baker added icing, and the modern style of the wedding cake was born.
Modern tradition now symbolises their commitment to provide for each other and contains meaning of good luck and fortune.