The wedding veil

bridal Veil
The origin of the wedding veil is unclear but it is thought that it predates the wedding dress by centuries. One explanation is that it is a relic of the days when a groom would throw a blanket over the head of the woman of his choice when he captured her and carted her off. Another explanation is that during the times of arranged marriages, the bride’s face was covered until the groom was committed to her at the ceremony – so it would be too late for him to run off if he didn’t like the look of her! It is also thought that the veil was worn to protect the bride from evil spirits that would be floating around on her wedding day. 

These origins have all evolved into the tradition that the veil covers the bride’s face throughout the ceremony until the minister pronounces the couple man and wife – although today, the veil is often lifted by the bride’s father when the bride arrives at the alter. 

carry the brideCarrying the bride over the threshold 
There seems to be two explanations for this tradition where the groom carries his bride over the threshold when entering their home as a married couple for the first time. The first is to protect the bride from evil spirits that were thought to be lying in wait under the threshold. The second explanation relates to Roman times when it was believed that if the bride stumbled when entering the newlywed’s home for the first time, it would bring bad luck and harm to their marriage. So carrying the bride across the threshold would prevent this from happening (although we haven’t established the likely outcome to the marriage if the groom stumbled while carrying the bride!). 

wedding ringThird finger, left hand 
A bride’s engagement ring and wedding ring are traditionally worn on the third finger of the left hand (the finger next to your little finger). Although there is no precise evidence to explain the origin of this tradition, there are two strongly held beliefs. The first, dating back to the 17th century, is that during a Christian wedding the priest arrived at the forth finger (counting the thumb) after touching the three fingers on the left hand ‘…in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost’. The second belief refers to an Egyptian belief that the ring finger follows the vena amoris, that is, the vein of love that runs directly to the heart. 

Why the bride stands on the left 
During the marriage ceremony, the bride stands on the left and the groom on the right. The origin of this goes back to the days when a groom would capture his bride by kidnapping her. If the groom had to fight off other men who also wanted her as their bride, he would hold his bride-to-be with his left hand allowing his right hand to be free to use his sword. 

First on the dance floor 
At the evening celebrations, the bride and groom traditionally dance first on their own to a waltz. However, as ballroom dancing is not so popular these days, the newlyweds usually dance to a favourite romantic song. During the playing of this song, it is traditional for the groom to dance with his new mother-in-law and then with his mother, while the bride dances with her new father-in-law and then with her father. The best man also joins in dancing with the chief bridesmaid and the ushers with the other bridesmaids when the bride and groom first change. After the first dance, all the guests are invited to join the newlyweds on the dance floor. Please read our related article Music For Your Wedding 

Leap year proposals 
The right of every women to propose on 29th February each leap year, goes back many hundreds of years to when the leap year day had no recognition in English law (the day was ‘lept over’ and ignored, hence the term ‘leap year’). It was considered, therefore, that as the day had no legal status, it was reasonable to assume that traditions also had no status. Consequently, women who were concerned about being ‘left on the shelf’ took advantage of this anomoly and proposed to the man they wished to marry.It was also thought that since the leap year day corrected the discrepancy between the calendar year of 365 days and the time taken for the Earth to complete one orbit of the sun (365 days and 6 hours), it was an opportunity for women to correct a tradition that was one-sided and unjust. For those wishing to take advantage of this ancient tradition, you will only have to wait until Sunday 29th February 2004. 


Tips, guides and articles on weddings and wedding traditions

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