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Wedding Customs: Old And New

Wedding Customs

Wedding Customs Old and New

Most of today’s wedding customs are influenced by superstitions and are folk lore. Even though traditions vary from culture to culture, a wedding is so tightly bound with a white color in our minds that it seems to have always been this way. It is commonly believed that a white color has always been the most popular one, and a white wedding dress comes from the color’s ancient symbolic association with virginity and purity. In reality, the meanings of colors changed throughout ages and continents, and today’s wedding customs are a relatively new development.

Since early Roman times, white symbolized a celebration; in the twentieth century, white stood for purity; today it is a symbol of happiness. Queen Victoria is often given credit for popularizing this tradition. While royalty typically wore embroidered brocade and crimson robes for weddings, Victoria chose a white satin gown with layers of lace and a white veil made by two hundred women. The lavish dress and the wedding between Victoria and her cousin Albert in 1840 were written up and illustrated in thousands of publications worldwide. In fact, the first known white wedding dress was worn by Anne of Brittany for her marriage to Louis XII in 1499. Until 1800s, women simply wore their best dress, and nobody would buy a dress exclusively for a wedding day. During the civil war brides often wore purple to honor the dead, and during the World War I, many women considered it their civil duty to give up a “white wedding”. In biblical times, most dresses were blue because blue symbolized purity; in the East the brides have traditionally always worn white that was a color of mourning, which is thought to be appropriate as the bride is leaving her family of birth to join that of her husband’s, thus undergoing a symbolic death.

In 1930s the first manufacturers specializing in making wedding dresses came into sight, rapidly followed by the earliest bridal magazines filled with photographs of brides in white as a symbol of a romantic ideal. So it wasn’t really any ageless tradition that has made the white wedding dress such a pervasive part of our culture and fashion rather then a mere marketing trick.

Something old, Something new, Something borrowed and Something blue dates back to Victorian times, and many brides try to arrange their wedding attire accordingly. Something Old represents the link with the bride’s family and the past. It is common for brides to wear a piece of antique family jewelry or a mother’s or grandmother’s wedding gown. Something New represents success, good luck and hopes for a bright future in her new life. The wedding gown can be also chosen as the new item. Something Borrowed is to remind the bride that friends and family will be there for her when help is needed. It is better is the borrowing comes from a happily married woman as a symbol of lending the bride some of her own marital bliss. Something Blue stands for faithfulness and loyalty, modesty and fidelity, since this color represents the purity of the Virgin Mary and is the most popular of all colors.

Another famous tradition is a bride’s veil. One of the theories refers to the days when marriages were arranged, and bride and groom didn’t see one another before the wedding day. In fact, the veil symbolizes a wife’s submission to her husband. After they were married the groom would be allowed to lift the veil to see his new wife’s face. It wasn’t always white, as is the custom today, but was yellow in ancient Greece and red in ancient Rome. But there is another belief: the veil originally symbolized the bride’s virginity, innocence, and modesty, and in some cultures — submission. This symbolism has been lost over the years but the veil is still customarily worn, and it is still considered bad luck for the bride to be seen by the groom before the ceremony.

Author: Victoria Ellison

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One comment

  1. Hey mate! Nice resource! I really enjoyed being here.

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