Many times at weddings, we observe traditions that very little of us actually know the meaning of. We release doves or butterflies after saying 'I do', toss birdseed or rice as the newlyweds exit the ceremony and watch as the couple cuts and shares the first piece of cake. We know this is traditional. We know it's pretty and often makes for great photo opportunities. But how many of us know the significance behind any of this?
Something Old, New Borrowed & Blue
This is a very common tradition that dates back to the Victorian era. Even being a wedding photographer, I never knew the meaning to until I did a little bit of research. The 'something old' is a way to honor the bride's family & their bond. The 'something new' represents her new life & bond with her husband. And the 'something borrow' is to be from another happily married woman as a way to pass on the happiness to the new bride. 'Something blue' represents fertility.
Release of White Doves
Doves throughout history have been a symbol of love, peace, purity, unity, faithfulness and prosperity. They mate for life. They choose one partner and are committed until death. ('til death do you part'). It is said that to see doves on your wedding day, a happy home is certain. To release doves is a representation of the love and commitment that a couple makes to each other on their wedding day.
American Indian legend states that if someone desires a wish to come true, they must first capture a butterfly and whisper the wish to it. Since a butterfly makes no sound, he cannot reveal your wish to anyone but the Great Spirit. As gratitude for grating the butterfly his freedom, the Great Spirit grants the wish. As a part of a wedding release, guests are asked to for all their best wishes for the couple to be granted.
The First Kiss
A seal of the couples union together & sharing of their souls. Romans believed 'the kiss' officially sealed the union for life.
Most believe this tradition dates back to ancient Egyptian culture. Egyptians believed the vein of love ran through the third finger on the left hand and straight to the heart. The ring exchange unites the hearts together.
Throwing things at a newly married couple dates back to ancient Rome and Egypt. (maybe even older) This is a symbol of good luck to the couple & represents abundance and fertility. Seeds are a symbol of plentiful crops. A seed being a representation of something small that grows into something much large. To shower with rice is an American custom. Italians toss sweets and sugarcoated nuts for a sweet marriage. Moroccans toss figs & dates for a fruitful union. Korean tradition is for the bride's father to toss red dates for fertility. So whether you toss rice (which btw is a myth that it harms birds. Birds do eat rice in the wild.) or birdseed, dates or confections - this is a great way to involve your guests in your wedding ceremony.
Cut the Cake
This tradition dates back to the Romans. They believed that eating a piece of cake together created a bond between the couple. Wheat to bake the cake represents fertility. And fruit & sweet icing brings sweetness to the couple's life together.
Knights of Medieval times wore the colors of his wife through flowers. And the bouquet & flowers in the hair and around the bride is an expression of good luck and helps the bride express her love to her groom. Different Flowers carry different meanings. (Which I will save for another article.)
So now you know! And depending on your own couple style, you can choose which traditions you would like to honor in your own ceremony.