Have you ever wondered what the meaning is behind common wedding traditions?
For example, why does my dad have to walk me down the aisle and deliver me to my husband, like I am some kind of property being transferred from one man to another?
What do people think will happen if I get out of the arms of a man for one second? Sprint and run off into the sunset and finally be free?
That actually sounds kind of nice.
And why, historically, does the bride's family pay for the wedding? And what's the deal with wedding rings?
Before I got married (OK, just kidding, literally no one has asked me), I decided to do some research on wedding traditions.
And I found that most of them were actually pretty out of touch.
1. Why Do We Wear Rings?
Did you know that wedding rings have actually been around since Ancient Egypt?
The purpose and symbolism of the ring has changed through time. In Egypt, the shape of a ring — a circle (duh) — meant eternity. To give a ring to a woman was to pledge your undying and everlasting love for her.
Eventually, though, the meaning behind rings changed when they got to the Romans and entered Christian ceremonies. Although still a symbol of love, they also were used to "claim" a bride.
And why do we wear them on our "ring finger?"
Well, because it was believed that there was a vein in the left hand — the "vein of love" — that stretched from the ring finger directly to the heart. However, that is not factually true, as no such vein exists. But at least now you have a cool location to put your bling.
2. Why Do Women Wear A White Wedding Dress?
Believe it or not, white wedding dresses are actually a pretty new thing. Before the 19th century, brides would actually wear a bunch of other colors, especially red, because it symbolized fertility. (The Handmaid's Tale, much?)
Bustle reports that this rhyme can be found in a 19th century Farmers Almanac:
Married in White, you have chosen right Married in Grey, you will go far away Married in Black, you will wish yourself back, Married in Red, you will wish yourself dead, Married in Green, ashamed to be seen, Married in Blue, you will always be true, Married in Pearl, you will live in a whirl, Married in Yellow, ashamed of your fellow, Married in Brown, you will live in the town, Married in Pink, your spirit will sink.
But in 1840, Queen Victoria decided to break the mold by wearing white to her wedding to Prince Albert. She started a trend that spread all throughout Europe, and eventually America, and we continue to wear white wedding dresses today.
However, it's also believed that brides wear white for a more obvious reason — to symbolize their chastity, virginity, and purity for their future husband.
3. Why Does The Father Walk The Bride Down The Aisle?
Well, exactly why you think he does.
Historically, the father "owns" his daughter until he gives her away to her husband, who now owns her.
Additionally, in the past, most marriages were arranged and the wife was seen as well, property. It was an exchange of goods and services. So the husband might give his new father-in-law some cows or a plot of land in exchange for his bride to be.
Therefore, the bride's father would walk her down the aisle and present his son-in-law with his side of the exchange — his wife.
4. Why Do We Have Bridesmaids?
Well, this makes perfect sense.
The Romans had bridesmaids and groomsmen because they were incredibly superstitious and afraid of evil spirits.
They had a group of men and women surround the bride and groom, dressed similarly to them, in order to confuse any demons and make sure that the wedding ceremony went smoothly. That is how bridesmaids came to be.
This actually feels like the plot for a horror movie.
5. Why Do Brides Wear A Veil?
According to Bustle, one reasons brides traditionally wore veils was so that they are weighed down and cannot run away.
Additionally, when the husband lifts his new wife's veil, it symbolically indicates the taking of her virginity and the breaking of her hymen.
What if every time a guy helped me take off my coat, it symbolically indicated that he was having sex with me?
6. Why Do We Eat Wedding Cake?
Wedding cakes have been around since medieval times. However, originally, instead of cake, it was actually... bread.
The groom, after eating a bite of the bread, would then break the rest of the loaf over his wife's head to symbolize fertility (and, apparently, the breaking of her hymen.)
So if you're planning a wedding, are you going to keep these out-of-touch traditions, or do you think the meaning has changed enough over time, despite their — let's say — sexist beginnings? Let me know in the comments.