the origins of popular wedding ceremonies
Wedding table at a wedding feast decorated with bridal bouquet

It doesn’t matter whether you think of your wedding as a traditional or a more modern one; even to this day, many ancient traditions and routines are still an integral part of wedding ceremonies. In fact, many of these are things we take for granted; we think of them as the stuff you simply do when you’re getting married. But where do all of these customs actually come from? We’re here to tell you all about the origins of some of the most popular wedding ceremonies!

Wedding Dress

In Western culture, the white wedding dress is pretty much synonymous with any wedding ceremony. And this is so ingrained in most countries in this part of the world, that many consider this to be one of the oldest wedding ceremonies of all. But in reality, funnily enough – it’s one of the more recent ones! The white wedding dress became a staple of every wedding after Prince Albert and Queen Victoria got married. At their ceremony in 1840, Queen Victoria was the one to set the trend of the white wedding dress for the next two centuries. Even today, no-one would plan their wedding without this part of the ceremony. 

The Honeymoon

Back in the days of yore in England, honey wine or honey mead would be given to newlyweds for a whole month. That’s why their first month of marriage was referred to as the ‘honeymoon’ – as a month lasts for an entire lunar cycle. 

Though, things were a bit different in the Norse Middle Ages. Out there, this first month was a quiet period of settling down; mostly because you had to hide with your kidnapped bride from her family. In this land, the groom would feed his bride mead and food in abundance for the first lunar cycle; in order to produce an heir more quickly – not the wedding beauty regimen most girls go through these days, indeed! 

Wedding Toast

Have you seen Game of Thrones and the Red Wedding? In Medieval England, getting poisoned by your host at a feast or wedding was a legitimate concern and real danger. Because of this, the host would make a toast to their guests, and they’d all drink the same wine. That way, the guest would rest easy, knowing that they’re safe to drink. 

Meaning of Bride

So, where does the actual word ‘bride’ come from? In fact, this is one of the most ancient proto-Germanic words you’ll encounter today. It comes from a verb root that, quite literally, means ‘cooking’. Let’s just say that this is one-word origin that’s best left in the dustbins of history. 

Also, do you wonder what Mrs. actually means? This abbreviation was used coupled with the groom’s surname to indicate “Mister’s”. Yeah, things used to be a lot more patriarchal when it came to weddings and brides. Luckily, things are pretty different nowadays. 

Blue, Borrowed, Old, And New

Where does one of the most famous adages of every wedding ceremony come from? Traditionally, the bride would be advised to wear something blue for a specific reason. This was the color that the medieval English associated with purity, fidelity, and love; much like white is nowadays.

On the other hand, the bride was supposed to get something borrowed; more specifically, borrowed from a person that was already happily married. As you may have gathered, many of these traditions were largely based on superstitions, and warding off bad luck. As for the “something old”, this was meant to symbolize the bride’s past. Or in other words, her connection to her family, which would hopefully remain intact after the marriage. Lastly, she would get “something new” for the same reason – trying to look forward to a bright new future and a new family with her husband. 

Old Bachelor Parties

The tradition of choosing bachelor party destinations is, contrary to some medieval traditions we’ve mentioned, much older than you’d believe. In fact, it dates back to the age of the ancient Romans. Much like the Norse peoples of old, these guys also took part in the kidnapping of brides. And before that, they would have a big feast with their friends – proceeding to go kidnap the bride once they’re done. Luckily, we’re much better accustomed to meeting our special someone peacefully these days. 

Bridal Shower

Compared to some of the other ceremonial traditions we’ve mentioned, the bridal showers are also a relatively recent addition to the world of wedding ceremonies. To be precise, this tradition dates back to the Netherlands in the 16th century. In those days, the father of the bride wouldn’t approve if his daughter chose to marry a poor man. However, in that situation, the entire village would give the newlyweds as many gifts as they could muster, in order for them to have the resources to start a happy new life!

Bridal Veils

In the days of yore, arranged marriages were pretty much a given all around the world. In fact, the groom and bride wouldn’t meet or even talk before the wedding ceremony itself, unless their families were particularly ‘liberal’. In that situation, the bride would wear a veil during the wedding ceremony itself, all the way up to the kiss-sealing part of the proceedings. That way, her purity in regards to the groom would remain complete. 

On the other hand, the ancient and medieval peoples of Europe also believed that there were plenty of evil spirits looking to spoil any given wedding. The bride’s veil would protect her from the worst poltergeists out there, making sure that her ceremony would go through without a hitch!