Yesteryear’s Wedding Customs

wedding customs
BY IVOR JONES

A MONTH AGO I wrote in this publication of the custom of White Weddings. In this issue I want to tell you of some of the other wedding customs that have been popular in the past. These may well have been wedding customs that your grandparents or great grandparents followed during days gone by.

Well before confetti was used at weddings the custom was to throw rice. This may have been popular with birds in the church grounds but did cause problems to the bride and groom. Imagine grains of rice finding its way into your underwear where it would irritate or in your shoes, where it would feel like small pebbles. Definitely not a pleasant feeling on the wedding day.

Throwing the slipper was also another custom in the past. Originally a German custom in which the bride threw her left slipper out of the carriage on her way to the honeymoon.

It lost its popularity when the bride, in her excitement, threw the shoe in the wrong direction. It happened on at least one occasion that the thrown slipper struck a carriage horse causing the horses to bolt and overturn the carriage killing the bride. I would imagine the price of footwear also made it uneconomical to maintain the custom in more modern times.

Yet another was the strewing the pathway of the church with flowers as the bridal couple left. Flowers were associated with happiness and the wish was that the couple would enjoy happiness as they walked through life together.

Talking of flowers leads me to also mention yet another former custom of the bride and groom being given a sprig of Rosemary to wear from a near relative. The sprig had to be kept until one deposited the Rosemary on the coffin of the other. This meant a union that would only end in the grave.

White gloves being presented to both bride and groom was also popular. This meant that their hands worked for one another and the gloves were kept as a symbol of the promise.

Confetti became popular and replaced the throwing of rice mentioned above. As well as the mess such small coloured pieces of paper caused in church grounds, problems also became apparent on rainy days if wet confetti fell upon the white gowns of the bride causing a degree of discolouration. Many churches have since banned the practice of confetti throwing.

Some customs have survived. The custom of the bride wearing “something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue” is just one example. Others include that are still followed by many is the bride holding or carrying silver horseshoes, wishbones, blue Forget-me-nots and lucky white slippers.

I offer my best wishes to all spring brides today.

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