Marriage has been around for thousands of years and weddings have been celebrated nearly as long. In all of that time it is inevitable that folklore and superstition would surround such a life changing event. What is interesting is that a lot of our most beloved wedding traditions emerged from this folklore and superstition, and it can be fun to know the origin of the traditions that we follow today.
Here is just some of the folklore that lurks behind a few beloved wedding traditions.
Carrying the Bride Over the Threshold
We love this romantic tradition, I mean who doesn’t love the idea of getting swept off of their feet and being carried in the arms of their paramour? Well the real purpose behind the medieval practice was to keep the bride from getting tainted by evil spirits that may have followed the couple to their new home. Evil spirits were thought to enter through the soles of the feet, so to protect his bride and his home the husband gallantly swept his bride into his arms before sweeping into their room. How romantic is that?
Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue
You may have guessed that this well-worn tradition is meant to bring good luck to the bride, but each part in this piece of folklore has meaning as well. According to this Southern Living article; the something old connects a bride to her past and the love of her family. The something new is to represent the excitement and new possibilities that await her in her future as a new bride. Something borrowed was ideally to be borrowed from a happy couple who could then pass along their good fortune and happiness to the new bride. The color blue was associated with the qualities of faithfulness and loyalty, qualities that every new marriage needs to thrive! The last part of the rhyme which has fallen largely out of usage in modern times is “and a sixpence in my shoe.” Allegedly the sixpence was a part of the bride’s dowry which her father slips into her shoe for good luck.
Throwing Rice At Weddings
Showering the newly married couple with rice is a tradition that has largely fallen out of use, for humane reasons, but in Victorian times when the throwing of rice became popular it represented showering the happy new couple with wishes for fertility, prosperity, and abundance.
Another thing that the Victorians threw at newly married couples (because why would there only be one thing to throw at a newly married couple) was, brace yourself for this, shoes! That’s right, shoes! Apparently, this custom is, once again as so many wedding customs are, meant to bring luck to the couple. There is even a 24-page paper written by a gentleman named James Crombie in 1895 on the subject called, succinctly, Shoe-Throwing at Weddings. Shoes apparently have all kinds of connections with legal contracts, like wedding contracts, and so a natural outgrowth of this was throwing shoes. (For more on this, and to get a link to the most assuredly fascinating Shoe-Throwing at Weddings treatise, see this Guardian article.)
Handing out satin slippers to your guests to toss at you and your new spouse as you run to your car would be a fun revival, and one that we really want to see!
Burying the Bourbon
We wanted to close with one classic southern tradition: burying a bottle of bourbon. The origins of this custom are a bit foggy, but the thing that is clear is that it has firmly southern roots! The folklore goes that in order to prevent it from raining on your wedding day and ruining your beautiful outdoors, rustic wedding the bride and groom to be must take an unopened bottle of bourbon and bury it upside-down at the site of where they will be taking their vows a month before the wedding is to take place. After the ceremony and reception (which will, of course, have gorgeous clear skies since you so cleverly followed this piece of folklore) the happy couple can dig up the bourbon and share it amongst their guests to the delight and jollity of all!
We hope that you enjoyed learning about the folklore origins of some beloved wedding traditions, and were perhaps even inspired in your planning for your own perfect day at our vintage wedding venue in Georgia. Happy wedding planning everyone!