Diamond Engagment Ring
In medieval Italy, precious stones were seen as part of the groom's payment for the bride. The groom would give a gift of such stones, which symbolized his intent to marry.
As seen by their use of the wedding ring, ancient Romans weren't the most sentimental of people, and the early version of their "engagement ring" were thought to have carved keys on them. It has been debated that this could have been to symbolize the woman's right to access and own half of everything following marriage. The more sentimental thought is that the key may have been a key to her husband's heart.
The Ring Finger
The idea of the wedding ring itself dates back to ancient times. Most notably during the height of Egyptian rule. The shape of a ring, the circle, represents eternity for the Egyptians and many ancient cultures. It has no beginning and no end. Much like the eternal love Egyptians had for their spouses. Papyrus, sedges, and roots from medicinal plants were intertwined to create rings. Which were then placed onto the ring finger of a man's bride. These rings didn't last very long, which led to the creation of clay, leather, bone, ivory, and stone rings.
It wasn't until Rome adopted the use of iron in almost everything that wedding rings became longer lasting and more durable. Iron eventually led into silver and then into gold rings.
Giving Away The Bride
The third finger on the left hand is considered the ring finger. All engagement and wedding rings are worn there because centuries ago that finger was believed to be connected by a vein directly to the heart.
This custom is believed to have started in Holland, where legend has it that a disapproving father would not provide his daughter with a dowry so that she might marry a less-than-wealthy miller. Her friends provided her with the then-essential dowry by "showering" her with gifts.
Known today as the bachelor party, this celebration in the groom's honor was originally called the bachelor dinner, or stag party. It first came about in the fifth century, in Sparta, where military comrades would feast and toast one another on the eve of a friend's wedding. Even today, a bachelor party customarily takes place quite close to the actual wedding date, as it has become known as the groom's last taste of freedom.
Back when a daughter was considered her father's possession, some formal transfer was necessary during the wedding ritual. Today, the custom symbolizes the parents' acceptance of the brides passage from child to adult, and a sign of their blessing of her marriage to her chosen groom.
Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue
The odds are pretty strong that you'll be wearing all of these on your wedding day. But do you know why? The old is to stand for a bride's ties to her past; the new represents good fortune and success in the bride's new life; the borrowed symbolizes the love and support of family and friends; and the blue is for faithfulness and loyalty.
Best Man &
The potential groom used to take a group of his friends with him while in pursuit of the bride to help him capture her. Often as not, young brides were "kidnapped" from a protective family which typically included a few big brothers. Sometimes there would even be a battle between competing suitors. If a potential groom wanted to show that he meant business, he took along the "best man" for the job of helping him fight for his love.
Maid of Honor &
These were the women who helped the bride get away from her overprotective family and other suitors so that she could be captured by the groom she wanted. When such quaint methods of getting the bride and groom together faded in popularity, the honor roles survived.
Tossing The Bouquet & Garter
This dignified custom began in the thirteen hundreds in France, where the guests used to chase the bride and tear off her garter because they believed it was good luck. To save herself, her leg, and her dress, the bride began removing it voluntarily and tossing it into the eager crowd. Later, the bouquet was added to this toss. The lucky recipient of the bouquet is now believed to be the next woman in the group to get married. The man who catches the garter is to be the next groom.
The tradition of throwing began in the orient. Rice (which symbolizes fertility) was thrown at the married couple in hope that this would bring a marriage yielding many children.
Wedding cakes originated in ancient Rome, where a loaf of wheat bread was broken over the brides head to symbolize hope for a fertile and fulfilling life. The guests ate the crumbs, believed to be good luck. The custom found it's way to England in the Middle Ages. Guests brought small cakes to a wedding; the cakes were put in a pile, where the bride and groom later stood over and kissed. Apparently, someone came up with the idea of piling all the cakes together and frosting them, creating an early ancestor of the multi-tiered wedding cakes of today.
Feeding Each Other Cake
Feeding each other the cake symbolizes how the couple will "feed" and nourish the relationship for the rest of their lives. Now, this was meant as a loving and caring symbol for each other. As for the "smearing" and pushing cake into each other's faces? No one knows how that started. Hopefully, that's a "tradition" that will die out.
The bride and groom's honeymoon hasn't always been a post-wedding vacation together, as we know it today. The word actually originated in northern Europe from a tradition involving wine made from mead and honey. In order to bring good luck, the newlywed couple drank the sweet wine, called metheglen, for a month after the wedding. Since the month was known as a "moon", this period of time acquired the name "honeymoon".