The Strange but True Origins Behind Wedding Traditions


Once you’ve been to enough weddings, you just take all the traditions in stride and don’t even give them a second thought.

But where do these time-honored traditions come from? Why do women have bridesmaids? Why is there a best man?

Read on to find out the strange, but very true, origins of these wedding customs.

1. Bridesmaids

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Back in the day, bridesmaids were asked to wear dresses similar to the bride’s to confuse and ward off exes and evil spirits.

2. The best man

Men would sometimes steal or kidnap a bride for themselves, particularly if her family did not approve of them. The best man was originally chosen for his strength and fighting prowess to help the groom fight anyone who opposed the bride being kidnapped. And then the best man would stand next to the groom during the marriage so the bride wouldn’t run away during the ceremony.

Think about that one for a minute…

3. The white dress

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If you thought brides always wore white, you’re wrong. Before the mid-1850s, brides typically wore red on their wedding day.

Queen Victoria wore white on her wedding day because she simply liked the color. It was shocking at first but the trend caught on – and never went away.

4. The bouquet

Have you ever caught one?

Brides in ancient Greece wore wreaths made out of mint and marigold as an aphrodisiac. Brides would also have clusters of herbs to ward off evils.

5. The honeymoon

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While it’s not totally clear, it is rumored that the honeymoon was born out of necessity, back when kidnapping a bride was a thing. The husband would hide out for about a month after the kidnapping so the bride’s family would not be able to find her.

6. Wedding rings

It’s believed the fourth finger is used for the ring because it was thought to contain a vein that leads directly to the heart.

The bride’s ring was also meant to symbolize ownership: Rings were often given to the fathers of brides as payment or collateral in ancient Roman, Greek, and Jewish cultures.

7. The father of the bride

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The father “giving away the bride” dates back to when women were thought of as property and the marriage was thought of as a transfer.

8. The first look

In the days of arranged marriages, it was believed that if the bride and groom had the opportunity to see each other before the wedding, they would have enough time to cancel the nuptials if they didn’t like what they saw.

9. Carrying the bride across the threshold

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Supposedly, a bride needed to show that she was displeased about having to leave her father’s home, so she was carried – ie forced – across the threshold.

Another idea is that the bride was carried so evil spirits couldn’t enter her body through her feet.

Evil spirits galore, back in the day.

10. The first kiss

In the old days, the priest kissed the groom, who passed on this “kiss of peace” to the bride. The priest would also kiss all the bridesmaids and groomsmen. Sounds like a party!