The Wedding Headpiece or Veil - symbolizes modesty - began as a 16th Century custom for the unmarried woman.
The Bridal Gown - became the fashion following the marriage of Queen Victoria, who wore an all-white gown with a Honiton lace veil. Previously, women were married in their best dresses.
Something Old symbolizes traditional values taken on by the bride and handed down from someone who is respected and married.
Something New usually is a shiny new penny - for good luck or good fortune.
Something Borrowed symbolizes sharing in the happiness of an acquaintance who you admire.
Something Blue a blue ribbon or garter, because blue symbolizes constancy.
Wedding Flowers - symbolize fertility and everlasting love. In early times, brides carried nosegays with garlic, herbs, and grains to keep away evil spirits. Carrying ivy means faithfulness, Lilies of the Valley mean purity, roses mean true love.
June Weddings - because June is tied to Juno, the Roman goddess of marriage and femininity, June was considered the lucky month.
A Kiss - was considered a legal bond that seals a contract, an early Roman custom.
Giving Away the Bride - is a holdover from the days that a bride was considered property for barter or trade and, therefore, a possession that could be given away by the father or head of the household who arranged the marriage.
White Aisle Runner - was considered necessary to ward off evil spirits from below and secure safety for the bride.
Throwing Rose Petals - was done by the bridesmaids or flower girl, symbolizing fertility and warding off evil spirits.
Throwing Rice - symbolizes a fruitful, plentiful married life. Today we also throw birdseed, potpourri, and confetti.
Bouquet Toss - the bride on her wedding day is supposed to possess special powers and by throwing the bouquet shares her good fortune with her bridal attendants and friends; the garter toss signifies good fortune to single men.
Carrying the Bride Over the Threshold - evil spirits were said to lurk in the darkness beneath the ground of the new home. A gallant groom would lift his bride to safety into the comfort of their new residence.
TRADITIONS FROM AROUND THE WORLD
Welsh - Silver coins (usually quarters in the U.S.) are inserted into the popped champagne or wine corks and given to the bride & groom.
African-American - Since slaves weren't permitted to marry in America, they would make a public declaration of their commitment by jumping over a broom to the beat of drums. The broom has since come to symbolize setting up a new home for the newlyweds.
Macedonian - Silver coins (usually dimes and quarters in the U.S.) and candies are tossed to the guests at the marriage ceremony, symbolizing wishes for prosperity.
Chinese - the color of joy is red, so the couple drinks wine and honey from goblets tied together with red string.
Dutch - The first wedding shower reportedly was held in Holland. When a father would not produce a dowry to recognize his daughter's engagement, villagers got together and showered the couple with gifts to help them set up housekeeping.
Dutch & Swiss - Planting a pine tree for the newlyweds symbolizes good luck and fertility.
French - A trousseau meant a bundle, in which the bride carried her belongings to her new home. Today it refers to new items purchased for the honeymoon or new home. The bridal couple often drinks the reception toast from an engraved two-handled cup, the coupe de marriage.
Polish - For village weddings, friends weave a crown of rosemary leaves for the bride to symbolize remembrance. At the wedding reception, an apron is tied around the bride's waist and the bridal veil is removed by the bride's mother, symbolizing the transformation from maidenhood to married life. In Poland, the mother was allowed to cut the bride's hair in the presence of her wedding guests. Today, some mothers still snip a lock of hair as part of this ritual.
German - The bride carries salt and bread in her pocket to ensure bounty; the groom carries grain for wealth and good fortune.
Native American - Wedding attire was handspun cotton garments trimmed in beads. Navajo and other tribes still carry on this tradition.
Indian - The groom's brother sprinkles flower petals over the couple at the end of the ceremony to ward off evil.
Greek - The bride and groom circle the altar three times in the wedding ceremony, symbolizing the Holy Trinity. The godmother and godfather often give away the bride in place of the father. They stand at the altar and participate in the wedding ceremony. At the reception, a monetary dance is traditional. The bride and groom are honored with dollar bills tossed at them as they waltz. The money is collected and saved for the first child.
Greek & Italian - Wrapped almonds in odd numbers (3, 5, 7) symbolize fertility. Almonds are given as favors at showers and wedding receptions.
Japanese - The couple takes nine sips of sake (3 sips from 3 cups), becoming husband and wife after the first sip. In many cultures, the number three symbolizes good luck.
Serbian - Weddings are often huge. Large monetary gifts are bestowed on the bride and groom who are often married without immediate family members attending the wedding. Friends financially help the new couple begin their life together.
Mexican - In some Mexican wedding ceremonies, the groom may present thirteen gold coins to the bride as a symbol of his commitment to support her. The coins symbolize Jesus and the twelve disciples. Other Mexican ceremonies feature a lasso, a figure eight, which symbolically ties the couple in matrimony. At the reception, guests often form a heart-shaped ring around the couple during their first dance.
Mexican & Filipino - Instead of the bride's family, the groom is often committed to pay for all the wedding expenses. The couple may also have outside family and friends as "sponsors" who pay for the various wedding needs - such as favors, photographers, banquet facilities, bridal attire, etc.
English - A tiny horseshoe is embroidered into the wedding gown for good luck.