Incorporate centuries-old rituals by using their modern-day translations. Rituals like the bridal trousseau are society’s unwritten permission to express the primitive emotions of the joy, sexuality and even fear that accompanies the wedding. You may find their origins fascinating, but we’re sure you will be happier incorporating today’s versions of these popular traditions and customs.

The Bridal Party

In ancient times, people lived in small communities that offered limited choices for eligible mates. So marriage-by-capture from other small communities became a popular way to obtain a wife. The would-be groom brought along his strongest male friends to kidnap the bride of his choice. She surrounded herself with female friends for protection. Today, those friends have become the groomsmen and bridal attendants.

The Engagement Ring

As early civilization changed, marriage evolved into a business arrangement. The groom presented an engagement ring at the betrothal as a sign of commitment to compensate the bride’s family for her hand in marriage. Today, the engagement ring signifies a couple’s commitment.

Honking Car Horns

In ancient times, loud noises were thought to chase away evil spirits. During the ceremony, guests would make loud noises to keep the spirits away. Today, it is tradition for the bridal party to sound car horns while leaving the ceremony.

Bridal Trousseau

In earlier times, the family of the bride would give her a dowry to present to her husband. From this old tradition has evolved into the custom of a new wardrobe for the bride.

Wedding Gifts

The earliest wedding gifts were not for the bride and groom, but, rather, for the father of the kidnapped bride in the ancient mode of marriage-by-capture.

The Wedding Ring

A romantic 19th century reason for wearing the wedding ring on the fourth finger of the left hand was that people believed the vein of this finger led straight to the heart. The ring’s circular shape has always represented eternal love.

The Honeymoon

Ancient wedding nights were public parties. Male attendants helped the bride and groom undress, and the young men would fight over the bridal garters. The groomsmen lucky enough to get the bride’s garters wore them in their hatbands. Stocking throwing was another custom. After the bride and groom were undressed, they would sit in bed and the groomsmen and bridesmaids would toss the stockings at them. The person who landed a stocking on the bride or groom would be the next to marry. Today, these customs are replaced with the throwing of garters and the bridal bouquet.

The Wedding Cake

Eating the same food represents a separation from the past and a union of the couple. Today, a wedding isn’t complete without a cake-cutting ceremony. Passing portions of the wedding cake through the wedding ring might be messy, but it was said to bring good luck in finding a mate when eaten by bachelors and spinsters at the wedding.

Decorating with Flowers

An abundance of flowers and food at the wedding celebration symbolizes the fruitfulness that the families and friends wish for the bride and groom.

The Wedding Gown

Queen Victoria, who broke a long tradition of royal brides marrying in silver, made white wedding gowns popular. Before this time, wedding dresses of all colors were designed to be worn by the bride after the wedding to parties and social functions.

Bridal Veil and Headpiece

A woman’s face covered by a veil used to indicate she was spoken for. The bride also wore a veil as a disguise so that evil spirits believed to be lurking at the ceremony would not recognize her and do her harm.