If you’re planning your wedding, you might feel like the conventional trappings of the ceremony are weighing you down. With so much to do, you don’t have time to scour the planet for a sixpence just because an Old English rhyme says you should put one in your shoe, along with wearing something old, new, borrowed, and blue. Good luck charms designed to ward off the Evil Eye will be no match for the glare you’ll give the next friend or relative who utters the words, “But it’s tradition!”
While the customs of their families, religions, and cultures remain important, many modern couples are casting aside traditions that have outlived their usefulness and no longer represent their values. Most wedding traditions date back to the Middle Ages when women were the property of their closest male relatives. Marriage was a business transaction, which often began when a man asked the father of the bride for his blessing, a tradition that lingers to this day.
In a recent Brides survey, women’s views on this convention varied. Some thought their boyfriends asking for their parents’ blessing before proposing was a sweet gesture and believed their intention was not to ask permission but to show respect for their future in-laws. Other women felt the practice had no place in their relationships because the decision to marry was theirs alone.
You’ve probably heard it’s bad luck for the bride and groom to see each other before the wedding. Most couples interpret this to mean they shouldn’t see each other before the ceremony on the big day, but the origins of this superstition are more extreme.
When two families formed a political alliance through an arranged marriage, the bride and groom wouldn’t even meet each other until they were at the altar. If the groom saw the bride beforehand and didn’t like her looks, he might try to back out, leading to scandal and possibly war. The bride’s veil, incidentally, was an additional safeguard to conceal her face from the groom until he had sealed the deal by saying “I do.”
One modern-day bride describes why avoiding her husband-to-be on their wedding day would have been both impractical and inauthentic: “We’d planned a destination wedding and were staying in the same house with our family and bridal party, so it was only natural that we were together on the morning of the wedding. And actually, waking up together in the same bed was really special. I’ll always remember looking at each other after we’d just woken up, big grins plastered on our faces, and saying, ‘Eek! Today we get married!’”
Being a bridesmaid today can be a major commitment, but in bygone days, it was a matter of life and death. They not only dressed alike but also dressed identically to the bride to confuse evil spirits and serve as decoys in case the wedding party was ambushed by kidnappers on the way to church. Since your ‘maids won’t be performing these functions, there’s no need to cling to the tradition of a single bridesmaid uniform. Mismatched attire is becoming increasingly popular, so let the ladies buy or rent their own evening wear.
Once upon a time, when a father walked his daughter up the aisle, he was literally giving her away, transferring ownership to her husband. Recreating that dynamic can make some brides feel like chattel. Many choose to walk up the aisle alone, or both the bride and groom approach the altar together as equals. If Dad has his heart set on “giving you away,” you might ask Mom to accompany you as well. Other options include asking a close friend to escort you or asking a parent to walk with you halfway and then making the rest of the journey on your own.
Style Blueprint reveals Medieval wedding guests had the nasty habit of ripping off pieces of the bride’s dress to share in her good luck. Throwing her bouquet was a diversion; while the crazed mob fought over the flowers, the bride would escape to her bedchamber. However, her wedding night was hardly a private event, as a marriage was only valid if consummated. Husbands tossed their wives’ garters through a door or window to announce when the deed was done.
While modern bouquet and garter tossing rituals aren’t quite so violent and raunchy, they can still be embarrassing. If you’re mortified by the thought of your husband diving under your dress to retrieve your garter and tossing it to his male friends, you might remove your hubby’s bow tie for the toss instead.
Bustle notes even the bouquet toss can be awkward: “Your single female friends probably don’t love being rounded up like cattle and forced to stand in the middle of the dance floor. Skip the toss altogether, and encourage guests to help themselves to the flower arrangements at the end of the night.” Rather than putting the spotlight on those who are still single, hold an anniversary dance to celebrate couples who have been together the longest.
What traditions did you skip on your wedding day? Share your experience in the comments.