5 Common Wedding Traditions and The Reasons Why We Do Them

Dana Felderhoff's picture
Written by Dana Felderhoff
January 04, 2019

Dana is the owner and lead designer at Felderhoff & Co. She lives in Fort Worth, TX with her husband, Jake.

At some point during the wedding planning journey, wedding traditions will be a topic of conversation. Whether your aunt asks if you are going to bury a bottle of bourbon, or your mom insists you wear a traditional white dress instead of that trendy blush statement gown you have your eye on, you’ll start to wonder where these traditions came from and why we ever started doing them in the first place.

Below are four common (and one not-so-common) wedding traditions, and the reasons why we do them:

The bride wears a white dress

...to symbolize royalty
This tradition began in 1840 when Queen Victoria wore an ivory lace dress, starting a trend that is still alive and well today. According to a 2016 study done by BRIDES, 93% of brides still opt for a traditional white, ivory, or off-white gown.

The bride stands on the left

...to keep the groom’s right hand free should he need to fight off other suitors
According to the Knot, this custom originated back in the days when “marriage by capture” was the norm, the right arm was considered the sword arm of most fighting men.

Bridesmaids wear matching dresses

...to confuse spirits away from the bride
According to Mental Floss, this tradition dates back to Ancient Roman times, when the bridesmaids not only dressed like each other, but they also matched the bride. The bridesmaids were decoys should evil spirits or rejected suitors attempt to ruin the big day.

The groom carries the bride across the threshold

...to protect her from spirits lurking below
In line with the matching bridesmaids dresses, this tradition began to protect the bride as the happiness of newlyweds was believed to make them the targets of evil spirits. The thought was that by carrying her across, the groom would prevent the spirits from entering her through the soles of her feet.

Bury a bottle of bourbon

...to prevent rain on the big day
According to the tradition, if you bury a full bottle of bourbon upside down somewhere at the site where the couple is to be married, it won’t rain on the big day. This one is apparently more of a Southern thing, and one I’m a little bummed I hadn’t heard of before our wedding day...we may have avoided the threat of freezing rain that moved our ceremony inside!

Regardless of whether or not you decide to incorporate each tradition, it’s fun to learn the history behind them, even if (let’s be honest) a few of the reasons behind our favorite traditions are just plain creepy. Test the knowledge of your family and friends by having a traditions matching game at your next bridal shower or engagement party! Visit the Etsy shop to check out all of the bridal shower games available.

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