Time-honoured wedding traditions
Social media is filled with viral videos of creative and unique wedding ideas, starting with outrageous wedding proposals. And when it comes to asking someone to marry you, all the old wedding traditions are gone, right? After all, 70 per cent of modern couples say it’s not the man’s job to propose marriage, and more than 90 per cent say a proposal should be discussed first, according to a 2021 survey of 1200 couples done by wedding-planning site Zola.
Well, it turns out we haven’t ditched all those time-honoured wedding traditions. In fact, even though both men and women think it’s fine for either person to propose, 75 per cent of women said they wouldn’t do it. From the knee you propose on to how you do the wedding garter belt toss, much of the current wedding etiquette still comes from ancient tradition. We found the sources of these popular traditions and more, including why it’s called the ring finger and the deal with the “something borrowed, something blue” rhyme.
Read on to learn the surprising, funny, and even scary stories behind your favourite wedding traditions.
Wearing a white wedding dress
White is by far the most popular colour for wedding dresses in the Western world, but that’s a fairly recent tradition. During the royal wedding of Britain’s Queen Victoria and Prince Albert in 1840, Victoria wore a light-coloured satin gown. So many brides wanted to look like royalty that they mimicked her dress, including the hue, said to symbolise purity and virginity in Victorian culture.
Fun fact: Although her dress looks white in illustrations from the time, it was actually champagne. Eventually, white became the exclusive colour for the bride, and to this day, etiquette dictates that all other guests avoid wearing the shade at a wedding.
Wearing a red wedding dress
In many Eastern countries, including China, red symbolises wealth and good fortune, making it the perfect colour for brides. The earliest mention of a red-toned wedding dress comes from the Chinese myth of Panhu, a dog-dragon god who became human to marry a princess. As part of the wedding, he made his bride an opulent and brightly coloured “phoenix dress.”
Centuries later, many Chinese brides still choose to wear sleek red phoenix dresses. That said, many Eastern brides will have a pre-wedding photo shoot for which they’ll wear a white, Western-style gown. Other cultures have different wedding dress colours, covering the whole rainbow.
Attending a wedding? Here’s everything you need to know about wedding guest attire.