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.
The following lore and traditions are connected with such bride's accessories as the wedding dress, the veil, the garter, the make-up, and wedding bouquet.
Wedding Dress. It is believed to be bad luck for the bride to make her own wedding dress. It is believed to be bad luck for the bride to wear her complete outfit before the wedding day. As an extension to this, some brides leave a final stitch on the dress undone until the day of the wedding for good luck. There are two women noted to have made the white wedding gown popular:
? Anne of Brittany in 1499.
? Queen Victoria, who broke the tradition of royals by marrying in silver.
By the late eighteenth century, white had become the standard wedding color.
Veil. Traditionally brides have been thought to be particularly vulnerable to evil spirits. Many wedding customs and traditions were originated as an attempt to fight away such evil. The veil was worn with the belief that it would disguise the bride and fool the evil spirits. It was not until 1800 in Britain that the veil came to symbolize modesty and chastity. Today, the veil remains the ultimate symbol of virginity.
Garter. This custom originates from at least two cultures. In ancient times the garter represented the virginal girdle. Thus, the groom's removal of the garter represented the bride's relinquishment of that status. And an Old English custom involved that of wedding guests sneaking into the bridal chamber, picking up discarded stockings, and throwing them at the couple. Whoever flung a stocking that hung on the bride or groom's nose would be the next to marry. Glad it's garters and not smelly old stockings today!
Make-up. A 1775 law stated that a wedding was not legal if the bride wore any make-up during the ceremony. Make-up was considered an ensnarement and so the groom would have been trapped by the illusion of make-up.
Wedding Bouquet. It is customary, near the end of the reception, for the single female guests to gather around the bride who will throw her bouquet over her shoulder for one of them to catch. Originally, the bride would actually throw one of her shoes over her shoulder during this ritual. Tradition says that whoever catches the bouquet shall be the next to marry. She keeps the bouquet to ensure this destiny. In medieval Germany, brides wore rosemary to guard against pregnancy!
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?.
There is no wedding without the wedding cake. Wedding cakes have played a part of weddings all through history. The Romans shared a plain cake of flour, salt and water during the wedding ceremony itself, as Native Americans still do today. The traditional fruit cake originated in Britain, with the fruit and nuts being a symbol of fertility.
Cutting the wedding cake together, still a predominent ritual at weddings, symbolizes the couple's unity, their shared future, and their life together as one.
In old England it was traditional to bake a ring into the wedding cake as a symbol of bliss and happiness. The guest whose piece of cake contained the ring, it was said, could look forward to a full year of uninterrupted happiness.
Another old English custom was to throw a plate with a piece of wedding cake out of a window on the occasion of the bride's first return to her family home after the wedding. If the plate broke she could expect a happy future with her husband but if the plate remained intact, prospects for the future became grim.
The three tiered cake is believed to have been inspired by the spire of Saint Bride's Church in London, England.
It is believed that an unmarried male guest who keeps a piece of wedding cake under his pillow as he sleeps will increase his chances of finding a mate. An unmarried bridesmaid who does the same will dream of her future husband.
Wedding ring. The earliest evidence of wedding rings dates back to around 2800 B.C. in Egypt. In 860 the Roman Catholic pope (Nicholas I) declared that an engagement ring was required of all those who intended to marry; if either the man or woman later violated the vow to marry, he/she was excommunicated or banished to a nunnery. The rings are worn on the third finger of the left hand because ancient cultures believed that finger had a vein running straight to the heart.
The wedding is followed by honeymoon that has its own background. After the successful capture of the bride, was ?the hiding? (Honeymoon), and by the time the bride's family would find them, the bride would already be pregnant.
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.
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.