Ever notice how many things are thown at a wedding? From rice to bouquets to garters…where did these traditions actually come from?
Throwing garters is actually considered to be the oldest surviving wedding tradition!
The garter toss was a bit of a game. The bridal party would toss the garter at the groom’s nose and the person who successfully landed the garter on his nose would be the next to marry. The custom became rowdier and bawdier until the guests were actually “helping” the bride out of her wedding clothes (um, excuse me). The wedding guests would then try to grab the bride’s garter for good luck. So, in an effort to stop guests from undressing the bride, she would throw the garter to the mob.
In Northern England the custom was for male guests to rush the bride at the altar when the ceremony was finished and remove her garter from her leg. In the panic this usually meant the bride was knocked over and trampled on. Seriously? Gradually brides made garters easier to detach and finally to avoid threat of injury they tossed their garters away at the end of the ceremony.
Garters were thought to be infused with fertility and the bride’s garter signified consummation, fulfillment, and progeny and was always fiercely sought after. Once the lucky receiver got the garter, what he did with it varied. Sometimes the receiver would wear it proudly on his hat, before giving it to the girl of his choice for luck. In the early 19th century, the lucky guy would tie it around is true love’s knee as a guard agains unfaithfulness. Now, the winner gingerly holds it by a finger for a quick photo (or struts around very proudly
and then I have no idea what they do with it!
Oddly, there seems to be a consistent theme of protecting the bride with these traditions. Apparently, the guests of yore were a bit more aggressive than the guests of today and had no problem tackling the bride to get a bit of her good luck in the form of a piece of her dress or flowers. Huh? It seems that the bride threw her bouquet to keep the mob from attacking her and as a distraction so she could get away. And I thought today’s bride’s had it tough with all their decisions – at least they get to keep their clothes!
As it’s always been thought, the lucky receiver of the bouquet is said to also receive the bride’s good fortune and will marry soon. But, what if there are no single women at your wedding or you don’t feel like embarrassing the two that are. A great spin on this tradition, is to break up the bouquet and offer out individual flowers to the guests of special importance.
And, last but not least – rice! Why do we pelt newly married couples with hard little bits of food? It’s a tradition from ancient Rome or Egypt (or even earlier) and intended for good luck. The items tossed represent fertility and abundance. Grains were popular as they represented abundance and a lot of children to work the land. Seeds were popular because they symbolize fertility.
Today, couples choose anything from confetti to bubbles to rose petals to have thrown (I should say, gently tossed – but we all know there’s at least 2 guests that chuck those petals right at em!). Most opt out of the rice because of the urban legend that it’ll make birds explode…did you know that that myth has been debunked? Whatever you decide, make sure to check with your venue on their rules….someone’s got to clean that mess up
Interesting? I think so
Stay tuned for more traditions!