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wedding facts, fables, and fairy tales

proposal

image of Invitation Display Tree

invitation display - click to enlarge

In the past when the marriage proposal was a more formal procedure, the prospective groom sent his friends or members of his family to represent his interests to the prospective bride and her family. If they saw a blind man, a monk or a pregnant woman during their journey it was thought that the marriage would be doomed if they continued their journey as these sights were thought to be bad omens. If, however, they saw nanny goats, pigeons or wolves these were good omens, which would bring good fortune to the marriage.

During Medieval times, the man proposed by leaving a hawthorn branch at the door of his beloved on the first of May. By leaving the branch at the door she accepted his proposal. She made known her refusal by replacing the hawthorn branch with a cauliflower.

engagement

American superstition claims that the day on which a couple buy their engagement ring holds important omens about their future. If it is on a Monday, for instance, they can look forward to a busy, exciting life; on Tuesday a peaceful and contented existence. Wednesday indicates a good-tempered relationship, while Thursday will able you to achieve all you wish from life. Friday is a day which will demand much hard work, but there will
be rewards in time, while Saturday is a day which will give much pleasure.

As for the engagement ring itself, it is said to be unlucky if the one which is chosen has to be altered for any reason. And should the ring wear badly or become loose before the wedding ceremony, this is an omen that the match is not going to be a happy one. It is very unlucky to lose or break an engagement ring.

choosing your mate

The taboo against marrying someone from your own family or clan predates social or Christian ethics by many centuries, and arose among primitive men for two reasons. Firstly, he saw that by introducing 'fresh blood' into his herds of animals he improved the stock, and so did likewise himself; and, second, it was considered unmanly, even cowardly, to take a woman of your own people rather than seek one from elsewhere. It has always been held to be unlucky for two sisters to marry two brothers - there is only so much luck to go round, says superstition, and one of the couples is going to lose out.

choosing the month and day

Although it is unlucky to be married on your birthday, it is particularly lucky if you and your wife share the same birthday - although you must be a year or two apart. Although most weddings now take place on a Saturday it was considered unlucky in the past. Fridays were also considered unlucky particularly Friday the 13th.

The famous old rhyme advises a wedding in the first half of the week:
Monday for wealth,
Tuesday for health,
Wednesday the best day of all.
Thursday for losses,
Friday for crosses,
Saturday for no luck at all.

Advice on which month to marry in is given by the following rhyme:
Married when the year is new, he'll be loving, kind and true.
When February birds do mate, You wed nor dread your fate.
If you wed when March winds blow, joy and sorrow both you'll know.
Marry in April when you can, Joy for Maiden and for Man.
Marry in the month of May, and you'll surely rue the day.
Marry when June roses grow, over land and sea you'll go.
Those who in July do wed, must labor for their daily bread.
Whoever wed in August be, many a change is sure to see
Marry in September's shrine, your living will be rich and fine.
If in October you do marry, love will come but riches tarry.
If you wed in bleak November, only joys will come, remember.
When December snows fall fast, marry and true love will last.

The following is a list of the good days of the year.
These were supposed to be days when 'women will be fond and loving':
January 2, 4, 11, 19 and 21
February 1, 3, 10, 19 and 21
March 3, 5, 13, 20 and 23
April 2, 4, 12, 20 and 22
May 2, 4, 12, 20 and 23
June 1, 3, 11, 19 and 21
July 1, 3, 12, 19, 21 and 31
August 2, 11, 18, 20 and 30
September 1, 9, 16, 18 and 28
October 1, 8, 10, 19, 23 and 29
November 5, 11, 13, 22 and 25
December 1, 8, 10, 19, 23 and 29.

A wedding conducted after sunset is believed to be irretrievably doomed, according to superstition, for not only will the couple's life together be miserable, but they will lose their children and both go to an early grave.

surnames

It was thought unlucky for a woman to marry a man whose surname began with the same letter as hers.
The sentiment was summarized in the following rhyme:

To change the name and not the letter
Is to change for the worst and not the better

The bride should not practice writing her new name before the wedding. This was thought to bring bad luck by tempting fate.

wedding ring

Since the very earliest times the wedding ring has signified the uniting of man and woman, the circle shape representing eternity. The reason for wearing this ring on the fourth finger of the left hand is also a very ancient one - and not unassociated with superstition. Apparently for many centuries it was believed that a special vein ran from this finger direct to the heart, and it was therefore the most suitable finger to bear a symbol of love. It is said to be an unlucky omen if the ring is dropped during the wedding ceremony, and only the person conducting the service - the clergyman, priest or Registrar - should pick it up, or the life of the couple may turn out unhappily. Bad luck may also attend a couple if the wife loses her ring later in life, and to avoid trouble the husband should immediately buy another one, replace it on his wife's finger and at the same time repeat the lines of the marriage vow.

bridal shower

The roots of the customary bridal shower originated in Holland. If a Dutch bride was unfortunate enough to have her father not approve of her choice in husbands, he would not offer a dowry. Her friends would then "shower" her with gifts so she could still be married to her groom, without the help of her father. The first gift the bride opens should be the first gift she uses.

"bow"-quet

Make sure you hold on to the bows and ribbons that you untie at your bridal/wedding shower. Thread the ribbons through a paper plate (any color) and decorate the plate with all the bows to make "flowers." On the day or night of your rehearsal, utilize your "bow"-quet in place of your real floral bouquet for good luck.

wedding attire

Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed,
Something Blue, and a Silver Sixpence in Her Shoe.

This good luck saying dates back to Victorian times and many brides try to arrange their wedding attire accordingly.

Something Old represents the link with the bride's family and the past. Many brides choose to wear a piece of antique family jewelry or a mother's or grandmother's wedding gown.

Something New represents good fortune and success in the bride's new life. The wedding gown is often chosen as the new item.

Something Borrowed is to remind the bride that friends and family will be there for her when help is needed. The borrowed object might be something such as a lace handkerchief.

Something Blue is the symbol of faithfulness and loyalty. Often the blue item is the garter. During the Middle Ages—blue was the traditional symbol of purity. Often a band of blue ribbon would be worn by the bride and groom, this is where we get the part of the traditional rhyme where the bride should wear "something blue". Garters became one of the most important parts of a medieval bride's wardrobe. Medieval tradition held that a man who gave his love the garter of a bride would be guaranteed faithfulness.

A Silver Sixpence in her Shoe is to wish the bride wealth.

the wedding dress

It is thought unlucky for the bride to make her own wedding dress. The bride should not wear her entire outfit before the wedding day. Some brides leave a final stitch on the dress undone until it is time to leave for the ceremony when the outfit is completed.

wedding dress color

Most brides marry in white, which symbolizes maidenhood. Many believed that only the bride should wear white on the day of the wedding. The bride should be the center of everyone's attention; therefore, guests would refrain from wearing the same color. This tradition started by the rich in sixteenth century, and was given a boost by Queen Victoria who chose to marry in white instead of silver, which was the traditional color of Royal brides. Before the white dress tradition started, brides wore their best dress. The color was a matter of preference.

The following is a traditional rhyme offering advice on dress color:
Married in White, you have chosen right,
Married in Blue, your love will always be true,
Married in Pearl, you will live in a whirl,
Married in Brown, you will live in town,
Married in Red, you will wish yourself dead,
Married in Yellow, ashamed of your fellow,
Married in Green, ashamed to be seen,
Married in Pink, your spirit will sink,
Married in Grey, you will go far away,
Married in Black, you will wish yourself back.

the veil

Traditionally, brides have been thought to be particularly vulnerable to evil spirits and many of the customs and traditions associated with weddings are to provide protection. The veil was originally worn by Roman brides but became popular in Britain in the eighteen hundreds. In this country it is associated with modesty and chastity. In some Eastern ceremonies the bride is veiled and the groom is not allowed to see the bride's face until after the wedding ceremony. In some Jewish weddings there is a ritual where the groom ensures that the bride is his intended before placing the veil over her face.

flowers

Flowers have always been used for decoration at weddings. Some people choose the flowers at the wedding on the basis of their symbolic meaning. For example orange blossom has always been associated with weddings because it signifies purity and chastity. Peonies are avoided by some as they are believed to represent shame; azaleas represent temperance: roses symbolize love and snowdrops represent hope. A combination of red and white flowers is avoided by the superstitious because they stand for blood and bandages. However, people from different regions may attach other meanings to the same flower. For example lilies symbolize majesty to some but are thought unlucky by others because of their association with death. The groom often chooses a flower for his buttonhole which also occurs in the bride's bouquet. This is a vestige of the time when a Knight would wear his Lady's colors to display his love.

on the way to the wedding

When the bride is ready to leave the house for the wedding ceremony a last look in the mirror will bring her good luck. However returning to the mirror once she has began her journey will result in bad luck. Seeing a chimney sweep on the way to a wedding is thought to bring good luck and it is still possible to hire one to attend wedding ceremonies. Other good luck omens when seen on the way to the ceremony include lambs, toads, spiders, black cats and rainbows. Seeing an open grave, a pig, a lizard, or hearing a cockerel crow after dawn are all thought to be omens of bad luck. Monks and nuns are also a bad omen. This may be because they are associated with poverty and chastity. They are also thought to signal a dependence on charity by the newlyweds. Bad weather on the way to the wedding is thought to be an omen of an unhappy marriage, although in some cultures rain is considered a good omen. Cloudy skies and wind are believed to cause stormy marriages. Snow on the other hand is associated with fertility and wealth.

wedding day

Good Omens:
seeing a rainbow
having the sun shine
meeting a black cat
meeting a chimney sweep
A week before the wedding, it is considered good luck to have a cat eat out of your left shoe.
If the bride sheds a tear on her wedding day, she will never cry again for the duration of her marriage.
Wear earrings when you are married and you will always be happy.
Bad Omens:
It is bad luck for the bride to start down the aisle on time.

bridesmaids

The bridesmaids at a wedding, along with the best man, are actually relics from the days when marriage ceremonies were not infrequently attacked by enemies wishing to carry off the bride, and their presence was to prevent such an outrage. Bridesmaids, of course, always hope to catch the bride's bouquet when she throws it among them and thus ensure a wedding for themselves. It is very unlucky for a bridesmaid to stumble on her way to the altar for this is said to be a sign that she is destined to become an old maid.

the best man

It was in ancient Germany that the Western European tradition of a Best Man began. In olden days it was sometimes necessary for a man to kidnap his bride from a neighboring village and he needed his strongest friend (his Best Man) to help with the kidnapping and to stand by him at the wedding ceremony to fight off any relatives that might try to take her back. It is the best man's duty to protect the groom from bad luck. He must ensure that once the groom has began his journey to the church he does not return for any reason. He must also arrange for the groom to carry a small mascot or charm in his pocket on the wedding day.

bride in her bridal dress

The groom is not supposed to see the bride in all her glory until she walks down the aisle on the day of their wedding.

stand-in bride

The bride is never supposed to practice walking down the aisle during her rehearsal or it will bring bad luck. The most popular alternative is to ask a close friend not in the wedding party to be your "Stand in Bride".

tying the knot

The popular expression about a couple “tying the knot” when they get married, originated with the Ancient Babylonians who believed that it ensured good luck for newly weds if a thread of cotton was taken from the clothes of each of them, and tied together - thereby symbolizing their union.

i'm on the left and you're on the right

The bride is on the left side of the groom in Christian marriages so that the groom could have easy access to his sword to defend his bride from rival suitors.

tears of happiness

If a bride cries on her wedding day, those shall be the last tears she ever sheds over her marriage.

tears of pearls

A superstition from Mexico has it that the bride can not wear pearls in her wedding day for the pearls are the tears she will cry in her marriage.

the wedding cake

Cutting the wedding cake is now part of the celebrations at the reception. The couple make the first cut together to symbolize their shared future. Interestingly, in some Pacific Islands the actual eating of the wedding cake constitutes a marriage ceremony!

Cakes have been associated with weddings throughout history. The Romans shared a cake during the wedding ceremony itself; it symbolized fertility and good luck. This was not the rich fruitcake we enjoy today. It was a plain confection made from wheat flour, salt and water. The Fijians and some Native American tribes still incorporate cake in the wedding ceremonies.

In England for some centuries there was a custom that guests at a wedding should each bring a small bun with them. These would be piled up in a mound in the room where the festivities were to be held. If the bride and groom could lean over the pile from opposite sides and kiss each other without disturbing the mound then they would enjoy a long and happy life together. This tradition inspired bakers in creating the three-tiered wedding cake.

In the past the custom was to throw many small cakes over the bride in a similar way in which we throw confetti today. A modification of this custom was to crumble cake over the brides head and in some versions to break the cake over the Bride's head. In Scotland, oat cakes were used for this purpose. This was done to promote fertility.

wedding day garter

Throwing the garter began in France when pieces of the bridal attire were considered lucky. The groom would throw the garter to the men at the wedding and whoever caught it could expect good luck. The garter to be thrown is placed on the brides right leg, just above the knee. Often the bride chooses to wear both a garter to throw as well as a garter that she would keep.

the bouquet

The custom of the bride throwing her bouquet was originally performed by the bride throwing one of her shoes over her shoulder. The bouquet formed part of the wreaths and garlands worn by both the bride and groom. It was considered a symbol of happiness. Today the practice of tossing the bouquet is an offshoot of throwing shoes. The single woman who catches the bouquet is believed to be the next to marry.

confetti

Before the use of paper confetti, the married couple was showered with flowers, petals, rice, grains, raisins, nuts, or sweets as the couple emerged from the church. This was to bestow prosperity and fertility on the couple.

the couple's first purchase

It is said that the first partner who buys a new item after the wedding will be the dominant one in the relationship. Many brides ensure that they make the first purchase by arranging to buy a small item such as a pin from the chief bridesmaid immediately after the ceremony.

crossing the threshold

After the wedding the bride must enter the new marital home through the main entrance. It is traditional for the groom to carry the bride over the threshold when they enter for the first time. The reason for this is uncertain. One explanation is that the bride will be visited by bad luck if she falls when entering. An alternative is that the bride will be unlucky if she steps into the new home with the left foot first. The bride can avoid both mishaps by being carried. A third explanation is that it symbolizes the old Anglo-Saxon custom of the groom stealing his bride and carrying her off.

the honeymoon

The term "honeymoon" is thought to originate from the times when a man captured his bride. The couple would hide from the bride's parents before marrying. The couple would remain in hiding for a further cycle of the moon after the wedding. During this period they drank honey wine.

full moon

Superstition has it that if there is a full moon 1-2 days before the wedding, then your married life will be filled with luck and good fortune.

penny loafer

Put a penny in your shoe for wealth in your marriage.

rain

Rain on your wedding day means you will have many children.

the second-hand of the clock

Rumor has it that couples should marry when the second-hand of the clock is going up instead of going down. For example, 2:30 pm. or 10:45 am.

wedding night

It should always be the husband who locks the front door before going to bed, not the wife, or there will be a quarrel during the night; and superstition adds that whoever falls asleep first on this night will be the first to die.