No matter your ethnicity, religion, or personal background, every wedding has certain traditions that come with it.
In our time in NY / NJ videography, we’ve seen, firsthand, the wide variety of customs out there, whether in the earlier, pre-wedding rituals and celebrations, the ceremony itself, the reception, or in anything after.
Something that may surprise you, though, is where some of these traditions came from, how they originated, because in some cases, it’s probably not even close to what you may have thought.
What we call the bachelor party today actually originated in Sparta in the 5th century as more of a dinner gathering in which men would get together for a feast the night before a friend’s wedding.
When, exactly, the bachelor dinner/party acquired the notoriety it’s known for today, is less clear.
The Bridal Shower
Today, known as a party for the bride in which her friends and family members shower her with gifts before her wedding, the bridal shower didn’t start off as you may expect.
In fact, it was a way of making up for the lack of a dowry, or the money or property brides would bring to their husbands when they married them in some cultures. Luckily for brides everywhere, the gift-giving event remains, and not the tradition of having to pay their husbands-to-be.
Giving Away the Bride
As longtime NJ / NY videography vets, we know that this can be one of the more touching parts of many wedding ceremonies, so it may surprise you to learn that it started as a sort of business transaction.
In many ancient traditions, the groom had to pay to marry the bride, and this was a sort of exchange. In other cultures, it started as a way of symbolizing the handing off of control and authority from the father to another man.
Many cultures, including the Romans, believed a veil could shield the bride from evil spirits that she was vulnerable to.
In other cultures, the veil was a way of hiding the bride’s face from a groom who hadn’t yet laid eyes on her. Only after the ceremony could he lift it and see who, exactly, he just married.
The Wedding Ring
In some ancient cultures, husbands would bind the wrists and ankles of their brides with grass to keep their souls from escaping, although it also sounds like a pretty barbaric way of ensuring she doesn’t run off too. Eventually, this evolved into more of a symbol and the tradition we know today.
The ancient Egyptian origins are a little more similar to our current custom, as they saw the circle as a symbol of eternity and the wedding ring as a way of signifying the everlasting love of the newlyweds.
The Ring Finger
We’ve been in NY / NJ videography creating wedding videos for a while now, and we even have wondered why everyone puts their ring on their left-hand ring finger. Well, for one, ancient Romans believed the vein in this finger went directly to the heart.
Other cultures actually moved the ring across the left hand from the thumb, to the index, the middle, and finally to the ring finger, where it remained.
The Wedding Party
This one has a pretty scary origin story. When we think of a wedding party today, we think of a group of friends and family members supporting the bride and groom and having a good time.
However, this tradition began back when grooms would have to capture their brides, and they’d enlist the help of their closest friends, including their best man, to help them do it.
On that note, the tradition of carrying the bride away has similar origins, as it started as a way of forcefully getting the bride to the bedchambers.
Later, when grooms were no longer abducting their brides, the tradition of bridesmaids started. Originally, they were simply a group of helpers there to ensure the bride was prepared, the feast was ready, and the space was decorated.
Another sight so common at wedding celebrations, the flowers weren’t always about the looks. At first, brides carried garlic, grains, and herbs with them as they made their way down the aisle to protect themselves from evil spirits.
Thankfully, this tradition eventually evolved into flowers, for our sake as a NJ / NY videography company, as flowers tend to add something special to most wedding videos, and for all of our noses’ sakes as well.
Throwing the Garter
Another creepy origin story, the throwing of the garter actually began as a way of ensuring the bride and groom consummated the marriage. In some cultures, guests would check the stockings and, in others, there would be actual witnesses who would then bring the garter out as proof.
Eventually, brides got fed up and had their husbands simply throw it to the skeptical guests.
Tying Cans to the Bumper
A long time ago in some cultures, banging on pots and pans outside of the home of the newlyweds was customary, whether it was to show their disapproval of the wedding or to get an outsider groom to throw them a party or a feast to make up for stealing a local woman.
That custom, know as shivaree or chivaree, eventually morphed into tying cans to the bumper of the getaway vehicle so that it clings and clangs as the newlyweds drive away.
There are several theories about where this was started. Some believe it began when grooms would capture their brides and would run off into hiding. They’d supposedly drink honey wine for the next 30 days because they believed it would increase their chances of conceiving a child.
Others believe it started with cultures that only had weddings under a full moon and who’d, after, drink honey wine for the next 30 days, or one full moon cycle.
Those, obviously, aren’t the only wedding traditions out there, but they’re most of the major ones. Know any more interesting tradition origin stories? Tell us in the comments below.
About Us: Live Picture Studios, a longtime NY / NJ videography vet, specializes in creating cinematic wedding videos in NJ, NY, CT, and PA. At LPS, we make it our mission to make memories magical. Visit www.livepicturestudios.com to learn more.