I recently received a request to write a blog about wedding traditions…what they are, where they come from, etc. Given that we just celebrated Thanksgiving, a holiday fraught with all kinds of beautiful and wacky traditions, I figured this was the perfect time of year to look at why we keep certain traditions alive.
Let’s start with one of the more common traditions seen in weddings today. Many brides still choose to walk on aisle runners. Tradition states that this runner should not be unrolled until the bridal party is ready to walk down the aisle (i.e. the guests should not walk on the runner). The runner then protects the bride’s feet from touching the ground so that evil spirits are unable to get to her. It also provides a spotless path to the alter, representing purity and keeping the bride’s gown clean.
There’s also the tradition (in Catholic/Christian and some other ceremonies) for the father to walk his daughter down the aisle. The father always walks on his daughter’s right side. This tradition began because the father’s right hand was supposed to be free to draw his sword and defend his daughter from anyone in the groom’s party looking to harm her. Therefore, the daughter would grasp her father’s left arm rather than his right.
Many African American brides and grooms continue to uphold the tradition of Jumping the Broom. Though there are numerous claims as to where this tradition originated, it is known that during the period when the United States allowed slavery, slaves were not allowed to marry in a legally binding manner. So, they would perform a ceremony in a public setting where the two wishing to marry would jump over a broom, and this would serve as their official declaration of union as husband and wife.
The reception tradition of the Money Dance began in the early 1900s in Eastern Europe. The Best Man, Father of the Bride, or Father of the Groom initiate the dance by pinning money onto the bride’s dress or apron, symbolizing their “purchase” of a dance with her. Though some have argued that this practice is uncouth, many families enjoy it because it allows the bride and groom a chance to spend time with each of their guests during the busy and crowded wedding day. A dance with a guest whom the bride might not normally say more than a “hello” to can make the day so much more memorable for everyone. This tradition has grown through the ages – today it is common for female guests to pin money onto the groom in order to purchase a dance with him. It is also common for the person (bride or groom) who has the most money pinned to them to be the one to have cake smushed into their face after the cake cutting!
Every culture and country has its own wedding traditions, and some of them seem louder, wilder, or sillier than others. But, the best part about them is the unity they bring not only to the couple, but to everyone who has celebrated with these traditions in the past.
What traditions did you keep or are you planning to keep at your wedding? Let us know! We’re always interested in learning about and incorporating traditions!