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While your wedding planner might tell you this multi-thousand dollar expense is “necessary to the traditional ceremony,” don’t be fooled: many “traditions” barely date back before the 1920’s. However, some practices do have their roots deeply planted in the oldest “I do’s.”

THE BOUQUET

That pretty little bundle in the bride’s hands used to be a bundle of garlic and dill. The practice was probably necessary in the time of the plague, when large gatherings were highly dangerous and people believed these items fought off airborne diseases. Due to vanity and necessity, brides began adding more appealing plants and flowers to the bundle and, eventually, the garlic and dill dropped off altogether.

THROWING THE GARTER

Once considered good luck to take home an actual piece of the bride’s dress, brides would be left in battered garbs, often crying at the alter after the ceremony. Somewhere along the line, one smart bride came up with a way to pacify guests by wearing a small garter that she’d throw into the audience as an offering.

BRIDESMAID’S DRESSES

Should your bridesmaids complain about you obsessively matching their dresses to your color scheme, just remind them it’s for good luck. This tradition began when evil spirits were widely accepted as real, and having the bridesmaids dressed the exact same as the bride would distract said spirits from fixating on the bride. Eventually, as superstitions subsided, bridesmaid’s dresses were shortened and dyed to differentiate them slightly from the bride.

THE BRIDAL VEIL

Also a necessity born out of superstition, the bridal veil came about because brides were thought to be vulnerable to enchantment by evil spirits. Originally, veils were flame-colored to scare off spirits. In other cultures, where arranged marriages prevailed, the veil was intended to pacify the groom, in case it was the first time seeing his bride and he may not like what he sees.

THE HONEYMOON

The origins of this tradition were terrifying for our ancestor brides. The honeymoon is simply the leftovers from the days when men literally abducted their brides. Over time, the abductions became more light and humorous, and the bride and groom would “escape” for 30 days. During that time, a friend or family member would deliver them a cup of honey wine, which is why that month-period was termed the honeymoon.

WEDDING AND ENGAGEMENT BANDS

Completely void of any adornment, wedding bands were originally just less restrictive symbols of the hand and foot bindings of the “abducted bride.” Thought to come from the Romans and Egyptians, the tradition was made official in the 12th century when the Pope decreed that brides would receive rings in the church ceremony.

THE GLAMOROUS WEDDING

Like most trends in society, the rich started it. Not all weddings have been lavish. In fact, most American weddings began as barn raisings, or all-encompassing community events with humble provisions and decorations. But eventually, high society families began accepting gifts, but not only collecting them, establishing an entire culture around weddings gifts. From there an entire literature was began in which gifts were recorded, gift tables photographed and gift givers praised or humiliated.

JUMPING THE BROOM

Most of us know this one. The tradition of jumping was born in the days of slaves, when it was illegal for slaves to marry. But of course, you can’t keep two lovers apart and within themselves, the slave community would acknowledge “marital unions” via the jumping of the broom.

TIN CANS ON THE BUMPER OF A CAR

This tradition goes all the way back to the 1600’s, and originated in France. Originally, in any community when a foreigner or outsider came in and married a local girl, he had to pay a toll to the local suitors whom he stole this potential bride from. He was to do this by offering them a midnight meal after his wedding. Later, this turned into all the wedding guests showing up at the home of the newlyweds at midnight, banging pots and pans for their midnight meal. And finally all we have left is the tin.

GIVING AWAY THE BRIDE

A little reminder of papa’s power, this tradition stems from the days when all marriages were arranged. In that time, a woman was considered her father’s property, until he gave her away to a groom, at which point she was the groom’s property.

THE BEST MAN

Another throwback to the days when men captured whichever bride they saw fit for themselves, the best man figure was originally a partner in crime on this task. The groom would bring his strongest and most trusted friend to fight off any resistance from the bride’s family, and at the actual ceremony, the best man would stand in the aisle to protect the bride until the marriage was official.

BRIDE STANDS TO THE LEFT

Carryover from the last mentioned tradition, the bride standing to the left of the groom originates from the days of abduction, when the groom would still be protecting his bride until the exact minute the marriage was official. Until then, he had to have his sword arm free.

THE TIERED CAKE

Traditionally, the guests would provide the wedding cake via dozens of small cakes that would be stacked on top of one another. Eventually, one French baker created a cake that mimicked the stack of multiple cakes, which became increasingly popular.

Source: Madame Noire