Wedding 101

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  Wedding Reception Traditions  

Have you ever wondered where the traditions and rituals at wedding receptions come from? In North America, many will celebrate exactly the same way as if they were in the countries of their ancestors. For others, weddings are celebrated with traditions dating back from all over the world. A long time has elapsed since a bride was given away by her father; had bread broken over her head; had small pieces of fabric ripped from her dress; and had to endure guests sticking around for a proof that the union had been consummated. Thankfully these barbaric rituals no longer exist!

Stag Parties and Bridal Showers
Originating from Greece, the stag party allows for the groom to have a last chance to party with his friends the night before the wedding. In modern day, the female version of a stag is called a stagette. The tradition of a bridal shower, where female friends bring small gifts to the bride-to-be goes back to the 1890s. Small gifts were placed in a parasol that was then opened above her head, showering her with gifts. The purpose of an old bridal party Anglo-Saxon custom was to protect the dowry from being stolen. The groom would mandate bride’s nights to escort the bride and her dowry to the ceremony and bring her back home with her new husband.

Receiving Lines
From to Middle East, the old tradition of the guests lining up to shake hands with the newlyweds was to bring them good luck for touching the bride and groom right after the ceremony.

Best Men
From England, grooms would select their strongest and most trusted friend to help them fight any resistance from the family of the brides; best men would also escort brides down the aisles to protect them during the ceremony.

First Dance
Centuries ago, the father would provide a dowry to the groom as a thankful gesture when giving away her daughter. Today, the first dance of the bride with her father symbolizes the transfer of the responsibility of the daughter from the father to the groom. From this moment, the groom is to take care of the well being of his new wife.

Money Dance
In many cultures, the modern and popular tradition of the money dance where guests pin money on the bride or groom for a short dance, is to help for the newlyweds honeymoon expenses.

Cutting of the Cake
Dating back from Rome, the tradition of breaking bread over the bride’s head was to facilitate her fertility. Small pieces of the broken cake were then distributed to the guests for good luck. Nowadays, the new playful tradition of the exchange of the cake between the bride and the groom supposedly predicts the likelihood of a divorce. According to the opinion of many ceremony officiants, the gentleness or force used for the exchange of the cake between the newlyweds gives a glimpse of their relationship.

The Bouquet and Garter Belt Toss
The rituals of the tossing of the bouquet and garter belt are from similar European traditions. Single women believed that owning a piece of clothing from the bride would bring good luck. Over time, brides not wanting to have their dresses torn, they started tossing their flower bouquets at single women instead. Garter belts were introduced to stop males from ripping small pieces of the bride’s dress for good luck and marriage prosperity. Today, the groom removes the garter belt from the bride’s leg using sometime his teeth, and throws it to a very attentive group of single males.

Wedding Favours
A European trend from the 16th century, small cubes of sugar were given to the guests as a thank you gesture for attending the wedding. As sugar became more affordable, confetti almonds became a popular favour. Today, favours can be anything original newlyweds decide to offer their guests.

Tying Tin Cans to Cars
During the Tudor period in England, as the newlyweds left the reception in their carriage, guests would throw their shoes at them. It was believed to be good luck to hit the carriage. Nowadays, shoes have been replaced with tin cans that are attached to the back of the cars.

After the wedding reception, it was considered bad luck for the bride to trip on her way to her new home. This explains why the groom carries the bride into the doorway of their new home. The theories of the origin of honeymoon vary from culture to culture. One of them being that after the wedding reception, couples would drink a fermented wine made of honey known as hydromel for a full month, or one moon. It was believed the honeyed wine had aphrodisiac properties, and would enhance the fertility of the wedded couple. In Scandinavia, grooms were abducting their brides from local villages, and would hide until they were pregnant. Today, newlyweds leave on a holiday to celebrate their love and spend some quality time together.


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Wedding Reception Traditions

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