Thursday, May 9, 2024

Wedding Traditions: New and Old

   __By Tiffany Amber Stockton__

In April, the historic total solar eclipse of April 8th received the spotlight focus. As we head into the popular months for weddings, let's look at some traditions and how they got started.


Some things about weddings seem to remain unchanged — the bride wears white, the couple is apart on the day of the ceremony, and a cake must be made. But how did those traditions become actual traditions?

Not seeing your spouse-to-be until the ceremony starts now exists as a romanticized tradition, but at one time, it ensured that marrying off a daughter actually happened. Despite all the romantic movies and books out there highlighting marriage to the one you love, that's a relatively new concept. 

Prior to the 18th century, marriage was used to improve a family’s social standing in some way. Brides and grooms often got paired off without giving much of their own input. As a result, arranged marriages had a high risk for cold feet. Keeping the couple apart until they said their vows reduced the chances that one of them would back out before making it to the altar.

This next one made me chuckle. It can definitely be chalked up to superstition. The English rhyme of “something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue, and a silver sixpence in her shoe,” was first heard in the mid-19th century. It didn't appear in print until 1871.

More than these items bringing mere luck on the wedding day, the "something borrowed" item was supposed to increase the bride's chance of becoming pregnant. So, the bride borrowed a pair of bloomers from a woman who had already become a mother. Can you believe that? I don't know about you, but I don't know that I could have donned another woman's underwear beneath my gown.

"Something old" represents the bride's past. "Something new" symbolizes the couple's happy future. "Something borrowed" comes from someone happily married in the hope good fortune rubs off on her. "Something blue" denotes fidelity and love.

Speaking of dresses, a white gown has only been commonplace for about 150 years. Historically, brides simply repurposed their best dress as their wedding gown. Prior to modern washing machines and stain removers, white clothing was rare because it was so difficult to keep clean. Brown, gray, and even red were the more popular colors.

Queen Victoria (after whom my daughter is named) wore a lacy white gown at her 1840 wedding, and she's often credited with making "bridal white" popular. However, she wasn't the first. Mary, Queen of Scots wore white during her 1558 Notre Dame wedding, and several other royals wore white before Queen Victoria.

Nevertheless, just a few years after Victoria’s wedding, dressmakers and etiquette books latched onto white as being virginal and pure. Godey’s Lady’s Book even wrote that a white dress was “an emblem of the innocence and purity of girlhood, and the unsullied heart which she now yields to the keeping of the chosen one.” Wow. That's quite a mouthful. :)

There are many other traditions, such as the reason for a bridal party, the exchange of wedding rings, tossing rice, and even saving a tier of the wedding cake, but I'll save those for next month.


* What traditions did *you* follow for your wedding? If you haven't had one yet, what traditions do you intend to follow?

* How would you respond if an arranged marriage was still the leading method today? Do you feel they have any merit? If so, in what situations or circumstances?

* Marriage is a consecrated union, set forth by God, and designed to be a temporal representation of the eternal agape love of Christ for His Church. What are your thoughts on how to help restore the sanctity of marriage in today's society?

** This note is for our email readers. Please do not reply via email with any comments. View the blog online and scroll down to the comments section.

Come back on the 9th of each month for my next foray into historical tidbits to share.

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Tiffany Amber Stockton has been crafting and embellishing stories since childhood, when she was accused of having a very active imagination and cited with talking entirely too much. Today, she has honed those skills to become an award-winning, best-selling author and speaker who is also a professional copywriter/copyeditor. She loves to share life-changing products and ideas with others to help improve their lives in a variety of ways.

She lives with her husband and fellow author, Stuart Vaughn Stockton, along with their two children, one dog, and three cats in southeastern Kentucky. In the 20+ years she's been a professional writer, she has sold twenty-six (26) books so far and is represented by Tamela Murray of the Steve Laube Agency. You can find her on Facebook and GoodReads.


  1. When I got married over 50 years ago they actually sold a sold little pouch with a six pence in it to place in your shoe. Sometimes women put a penny in it instead. And I agree with you, I would not wear someone else's underwear. Thanks for sharing I look forward to next month.

  2. There are so many reasons that marriage is not perceived as important in our culture today. I think the foremost problem is that God is not honored or thought of first in families. The hearts of our people need to be turned towards God before any true change will exist. I pray daily that I can better reflect the heart of Christ and the Father to those I interact with. And I am forgiven, not perfect.