Thursday, August 14, 2008

Bucking tradition

I am a history nerd. I am that annoying person who knows random facts about Russian tsars (or csars if you prefer) and will regularly sit down and read books called "The history of fill in blank." I think what I like most about history is that you learn more and understand better why we do the things we do.

It also helps if you in an argument if you are going against the grain to show why you do or don't want to do something. So for anyone else like us that's doing something a bit different here are where all those silly requirements and superstitions come from.

If you really don't want to have bridesmaids dressed all alike and your mother is just freaking out over it just tell her that in the Roman time it was law that all the bridesmaids and THE BRIDE wear the same dress so that evil spirits would not know who was the bride and spirit her off. So unless she's big into letting you wear that big pink taffeta bow extravaganza to your own wedding she'd just better let your friends wear whatever they want.

Along those lines, if you love color and actually want to wear a dress that has some and people are freaking out thinking it will mean you are a loose woman just point out that it wasn't until recently that women even started to wear white dresses. All the blame can be put on Queen Victoria who decided to wear a long white gown with a train to her wedding and that pesky little era called The Victorian age lead to a whole bunch of women trying to copy her. In reality blue is considered the pure and virginal color from way back when. After all what color of clothes is the Virgin Mary always painted as wearing? It ain't white.

The bouquet has a lot of uses and traditions. It was first carried to again ward off evil spirits (apparently evil spirits have nothing better to do than hang around having a smoke waiting for weddings to start). It was believed that strong smells would cure anything (hence the idea of the poem Ring Around the Rosie for guarding against the black death, though it wasn't really) so brides actually carried a bouquet mix of both flowers and herbs (which actually sounds kinda cool in retrospect, maybe I'll jam some basil into mine).

The bouquet and garter toss have more nefarious origins. Even though the bride was plagued by evil spirits and about to be attacked at any moment during or before the ceremony she magically became full of good luck after getting married. And people wanted this, so they'd actually go up and tear pieces off of the brides dress. Naturally the bride was very pissed off about this (as a wedding dress was not a dress to be worn once til that pesky Queen Victoria) and to try and get away she'd throw her garter and/or bouquet so the couple could make a quick getaway and the bride wouldn't wind up naked.

The best man is actually called that as the groom upon capturing his bride would need his best swordsman (hence where the name comes from) to keep the family at bay until the marriage was consummated. It's also why the bride is on the left side so the groom can use his right hand to fight anyone off.

The tradition that we are totally bucking is the whole the groom can't see the bride before the wedding (he's already seen pictures of me in my dress, he's going with me to the fitting, and we have most of the wedding day planned together). It has some not so nice origins as a lot of this. In the days of arranged marriages you wouldn't want your bride or groom to get a look at each other before it was too late just in case they didn't like what they saw and ran off. This tradition more than the others really bothers me as some people will all but throw a fit if you don't follow it and won't think about why it's there.

Which makes me laugh as a tradition most people don't follow now is the idea that mirrors can cause bad luck (which the theory of how it traps a bit of your soul is actually interesting to think of if you picture those who look at mirrors too much) to befall a bride so she must never see herself in one on her wedding day. I can about imagine how that would go now. "I'm sorry dear but you can't know if we didn't make you look like a clown or not, it's bad luck."

There are about a billion different traditions and customs to a wedding as most rituals develop over the years so if I've sparked your interest do some digging. Like a lot of history it is a challenge reading through the lines and finding the real story but it's certainly worth it.

And if you are just looking for the point for the something old . . . something blue poem the sixpence stands for wealth.


Cody said...

I've never liked following tradition just for tradition's sake. I have a little knowledge of wedding customs, but mostly I think "Give me one good reason, aside from 'it's what people do'" would suffice in most arguments.

Riley (aka Rachel) said...

I love history too, but didn't know all this stuff.
My fiancee doesn't want to see me before the wedding. So stupid. I told him it was just superstition, but I may tell him what you said. Don't know that it'll change his mind though. (Boo)

Tayia said...

Very interesting stuff. I got a kick out of the best man one. The dress history was news to me. Maybe I'll get a colored dress!

valerie said...

Man, I love your blog (I found it through the weddingbook app). You have seriously made me laugh and feel better about a lot of the "nontraditional" stuff that's happening at my and my fiance's wedding.

Recently I've had to fight off the mobs that freak out when I say, "Oh, we're having pictures before the wedding. Oh, we're seeing each other." It's annoying.

And the other "tradition" that i've been getting crap for, believe it or not, is not having the bridal march playing as I come down the aisle. Being a music major in college, I have no desire to hear that (OR Pachelbel's Canon in D). That's my personal preference, haha.

Anyway, I'll stop rambling. Just wanted to say hello and that I love your blog. :)

Blablover5 said...

He he, I have no idea what I am walking down the aisle too. A good friend who is also a music major is gonna play the organ so I just told him to pick.

Guilty Secret said...

Great post :)

I love the idea of adding some fragrant herbs to the bouquet.

I never know about best (swords)man and had been meaning to try and find out so thanks for that!