Did you ever wonder how June became the most popular month for weddings? Why do brides carry a bouquet? Where the phrase “tie the knot” came from? Weddings are fraught with trivia that most people take for granted and never seem to even question. Wednesday seems like a good day to delve into the strange and wonderful world of wedding trivia!
June became the most popular month for weddings during the Victorian era because most people took their annual bath in May. Gross.
Brides began carrying fragrant bouquets to mask the smell of body odor. Even more gross, right? But, it explains the immense size of Victorian bridal bouquets.
The phrase ‘tie the knot’ came originated in Rome where the corset had knots that the groom had to untie in order to undress the bride. It seems backwards, doesn’t it? But, in modern times it would seem odd to say you were “Un-tying the knot”.
In Old English, the word ‘bride’ actually means ‘cook’. I found that amusing.
Something blue? Most people think the blue item is to represent purity and fidelity. In Victorian England, the bride and groom were considered to be royalty (for the day) and the something blue was the blood of royalty. I would still wear blue shoes, it has a nice ring to it even if they aren’t suede.
Wedding veils originated in Ancient Greece and were worn to ward off evil spirits. The veil was worn over the face to protect the bride until she was safely presented to her future husband at the altar.
The tradition of bridesmaids dressing the same as each other and in similar style to the bride comes from ancient times when it was believed that evil spirits have a more difficult time distinguishing which one is the bride and putting a hex on her. In Ancient Rome a marriage required 10 witnesses in order to be legal.
The tradition of exchanging rings began in 1477 when Roman Emperor Maxmillian I gave his future bride a diamond ring. Women around the world decided “That’s a great idea – where’s mine?”
Engagements came about when Pope Innocent III instituted a waiting period , and insisted a ring be used in the wedding ceremony.
The engagement ring and wedding band are worn on the fourth finger of the left hand because the ancient Egyptians thought that the “vein of love’ ran from this finger directly to the heart.
When we drink to someone, we call it a “toast” because of an old French custom where a piece of bread was placed at the bottom of the wine cup for flavor. In France, partygoers would drink and pass the cup; when it reached the person being toasted, he would empty it – crouton and all.
Throwing the bouquet dates back to Victorian England where the wedding guests would chase the bride, tearing her clothes and flowers in order to grab a piece of happiness. The bride would toss the bouquet in order to distract the crowd long enough to make a clean getaway (hopefully with her clothes still intact).
The custom of tiered cakes emerged from a game where the bride and groom attempted to kiss over a higher-than-ever cake without knocking it over.
Last but most interesting of all, the bride stands at the altar to the left of the groom for practical reasons. In Medieval times, the groom needed to keep his right arm free so he could use his sword to protect the bride. I am wondering if there was an accommodation made for the less than 10% of grooms who are ‘lefties’ or if they had to improvise?
If all of these customs and trivia seem too much to remember, just be glad you don’t live in Denmark where brides and grooms cross-dress to confuse the evil spirits. Which makes me wonder how smart those evil spirits really are since they all seem to be so easily confused.
-Penny Frulla for Bridal Expo Chicago