The Wedding Series – More Customs and Traditions


The custom of the bride standing to the left of the groom
at the altar came about during the Middle Ages, when
the groom had to have his right - or fighting - hand free
to fend off those who would try to prevent the marriage
ceremony from proceeding.

As legend has it, the medieval groom frequently had to defend his bride right up to the exchanging of vows from those who would try to prevent the marriage. To do so, he had to have his right arm, which held his sword or other weapon, ready for battle. Those who would try to stop the wedding ranged from jealous suitors to enraged fathers. Thus, the bride would stand to the left of her groom so that his right arm was free and unencumbered. This also is believed to be where the tradition of the "best man" came into being; he was the groom's backup to help fight off intruders to the wedding ceremony; back then, however, this person was chosen first and foremost because he was the best swordsman!

The Wedding Series – Superstitions Through the Ages

In Medieval times, to protect their wedding dresses from being ripped
to shreds by lady guests who thought that obtaining
a piece of the bride's ensemble would bring them good luck,
brides began tossing their bouquets as a distraction
while they ran for it.

 Superstition -- the belief that by taking a certain action one can bring about good luck or ward off back luck -- has existed throughout the millennia, prompting the performance of some strange rituals. Weddings have always been especially rife with superstitions. Some seem charming, but many have dark beginnings. Last week I wrote about the "Old, New, Borrowed and Blue" good fortune symbols based on folklore, and this week I'm happy to present -- or expand on -- some additional mythology:

The Wedding Series – Old, New, Borrowed & Blue

Something Olde, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue,
And A Silver Sixpence in your Shoe
~ English Poem from the Late Victorian Era

A pleasant dilemma many brides face is finding something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue, a custom that dates back to the late British Victorian Era (1837-1901, from the year Queen Victoria was crowned to her death). American brides dropped the sixpence custom, but have delighted in the other four. To help brides-to-be determine the items to choose for each category, here are the meanings of each:

The Wedding Series – More On Gifts

"Wedding gifts may be practical or fanciful, inexpensive or extravagant,
but each one represents the giver's hapiness for the bride and groom."
~ Emily Post's Wedding Etiquette - 6th Edition 2014
by Anna Post and Lizzie Post

I've written about gifts in The Wedding Series a few times, i.e., Gift Registries, Wedding Gift-Giving Formula and The Bridal Shower; but it's an important topic to revisit. 

Whether the gift is for the engagement; shower; wedding; or gifts of appreciation to the wedding attendants, party hosts, officiant or others, it is important that both recipients and givers observe the etiquette involved, underlying which are respect, consideration, kindness and empathy. Thus, I'd like to reiterate some past advice add some new thoughts.

The Wedding Series – The Rehearsal

(Arthur) Penn’s preference for preproduction rehearsal,
as well as certain other structural aspects of the work,
helped people get to know each other quickly.
~ A Film Director’s Approach to Managing Creativity,
by Eileen Morley and Andrew Silver,
Harvard Business Review, March 1977

The wedding rehearsal provides both an opportunity for the entire wedding party to become better acquainted and structure to the wedding ceremony, and prepares all to perform their roles and understand how they fit into the overall picture. This is an exciting gathering because like a dress rehearsal before opening night there is a sense that this is really happening and there is an exhilarating spirit of anticipation of what will be for the bride and groom an experience -- and performance -- of a lifetime.

The Wedding Series – Flowers

My petals stand in beauteous ring,
Sweet incense all around I fling,
And boast a thousand colours.

Excerpt from The Beauteous Flower - Song Of The Imprisoned Count
~ Poem by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Like food, flowers are a staple of weddings. Historical accounts and legends about wedding flowers, herbs and other flora date back several centuries and include wreaths placed on the bride's head and bouquets that were carried to ward off evil spirits or cover body odor (although the latter has been debunked by some sources). There are also superstitions associated with the color of the bride's bouquet, such as not carrying all white or red and white flowers. But these color arrangements are popular today; moreover, Kate Middleton's wedding bouquet was all white, and she certainly observed tradition. So I say feel free to use any colors and combinations your heart desires! 

The Wedding Series – The Wedding Cake

My Wedding Cake, My Groom, Ted, My Master
Cake Boss Mom, Carolyn (Carrie) Grunberg, and Me
October 4, 1980

My mother, who was a master cake artist of some renown in Chicago back in the day, had always looked forward to making her only daughter's wedding cake. During her long career Mom produced some spectacular wedding and other special occasion cakes and catered affairs for many people, including a smattering of the rich and famous as well as many of our relatives. She certainly expected to do the same for me when my wedding rolled around. But when that momentous occasion arrived I was living in New York and it was not practical to transport a multi-layered wedding cake across several states, only to have it break or dry out before the wedding.