Join the Meeting Place for Moms!
Talk to other moms, share advice, and have fun!

(minimum 6 characters)

Which of these wedding traditions...

Posted by on Jul. 7, 2014 at 5:18 PM
  • 10 Replies

S/O - The other post had me thinking about the true origin of smashing cake and I found this article.  So, which of these did you observe at your wedding?  Are there any you think should just go away?

The Bizarre Origins of 8 Wedding Traditions


If the throngs of crazed customers clutching registry printouts at Crate & Barrel are any indication, wedding season is once again upon us. Before you head off to the next joyous union on your jam-packed calendar, let's take a moment to reflect on the rich history of marriage celebrations and revel in the realization that weddings are, at their core, incredibly bizarre.


Technically, today's wedding gowns aren't white. They are "Candlelight," "Warm Ivory," "Ecru" or "Frost." But there was a time when a bride's wedding attire was simply the best thing in her closet (talk about "off the rack"), and could be any color, even black. To convince her groom that she came from a wealthy family, brides would also pile on layers of fur, silk and velvet, as apparently grooms didn't care if his wife-to-be reeked of sweaty B.O. as long as she was loaded. It was dear ol' Queen Victoria (whose reign lasted from 1837-1901) who made white fashionable. She wore a pale gown trimmed in orange blossoms for her 1840 wedding to her first cousin, Prince Albert. Hordes of royal-crazed plebeians immediately began to copy her, which is an astonishing feat considering that People Magazine wasn't around to publish the Super Exclusive Wedding Photos, or instruct readers on how to Steal Vicki's Hot Wedding Style.


Remember that "Women's Studies" class you considered taking in college? Allow us to summarize what you would have learned: All of our society's gender issues stem from the fact that fathers once used their daughters as currency to a) pay off a debt to a wealthier land owner, b) symbolize a sacrificial, monetary peace offering to an opposing tribe, or c) buy their way into a higher social stratum. So next time you tear up watching a beaming father walk his little girl down the aisle, remember that it's just a tiny, barbaric little holdover from the days when daughters were nothing but dollar signs to daddy dearest. And that veil she's wearing? Yeah, that was so the groom wouldn't know if he was stuck with an uggo until it was time to kiss the bride and too late to back out on the transaction. (There is also some superstitious B.S. about warding off evil spirits, but we think you'll agree that hiding a busted grill from the husband-to-be is a more practical purpose.)


Talk about your runaway brides—the original duty of a "Best Man" was to serve as armed backup for the groom in case he had to resort to kidnapping his intended bride away from disapproving parents. The "best" part of that title refers to his skill with a sword, should the need arise. (You wouldn't want to take the "just okay" member of your weapon-wielding posse with you to steal yourself a wife, would you?)

The best man stands guard next to the groom right up through the exchange of vows (and later, outside the newlyweds' bedroom door), just in case anyone should attack or if a non-acquiescent bride should try to make a run for it. It's said that feisty groups like the Huns, Goths and Visigoths took so many brides by force that they kept a cache of weapons stored beneath the floorboards of churches for convenience. Modern-day best men are more likely to store an emergency six-pack at the ceremony for convenience, but the title remains an apt one.

Ladies: Believe it or not, the concept of the bridesmaid's gown was not invented to inflict painful dowdiness upon the bride's friends and female relatives thus making the bride look hotter by comparison. Historically, that dress you'll never wear again was actually selected with the purpose of tricking the eye of evil spirits and jealous ex-lovers (spicy!). Brides' faithful attendants were instructed to wear a dress similar to that of the bride so that during their group stroll to the church it would be hard for any ill-willed spirits or former boy-toys to spot the bride and curse/kidnap/throw rocks at her. (Ditto for the boys in matching penguin suits, saving the groom from a similar fate.) Memo to the Maid of Honor: if you think organizing a themed shower complete with quiche, cupcakes and creative uses of toilet paper as a game is a tough gig, imagine this: a MoH of old used to be responsible for making nearly all of the wedding decorations and putting them up herself.



This pair of rituals has long been the scourge of the modern wedding guest. What could possibly be more humiliating than being forced out to the center of a parquet dance floor while a wedding DJ advertises your lack of a boyfriend and then being expected to further demonstrate your desperation by diving for flying flowers? Wait ...Yup, we can top that. How about grasping in the air for a lacy piece of undergarment that until moments ago resided uncomfortably close to the crotch of your buddy's wife? At any other point in time, that would make you a total perv, so why is it acceptable at a wedding? Well, hold on to your scruples boys and girls, because the history behind these customs is downright dirty.

It used to be that after the bride and groom said, "I do," they were to go immediately into a nearby room and "close the deal" and consummate the marriage. Obviously, to really make it official, there would need to be witnesses, which basically led to hordes of wedding guests crowding around the bed, pushing and shoving to get a good view and hopefully to get their hands on a lucky piece of the bride's dress as it was ripped from her body. Sometimes the greedy guests helped get the process going by grabbing at the bride's dress as she walked by, hoping for a few threads of good fortune. In time, it seems, people realized that this was all a bit, well, creepy, and it was decided that for modesty's sake the bride could toss her bouquet as a diversion as she made her getaway and the groom could simply remove an item of the bride's undergarments and then toss it back outside to the waiting throngs to prove that he was about to, uh, get 'er done.


A common theme that you've no doubt noticed throughout this post: humans used to be a superstitious bunch. This rhyming phrase neatly lists a number of English customs dating back to the Victorian age which, when worn in combination, should bring the bride oodles of fabulous good luck. The something old was meant to tie the bride to her family and her past, while the something new represented her new life as the property of a new family. The item borrowed was supposed to be taken from someone who was already a successfully married wife, so as to pass on a bit of her good fortune to the new bride. The color blue (Virgin Mary-approved!) stood for all sorts of super fun things like faithfulness, loyalty, and purity. The sixpence, of course, was meant to bring the bride and her new groom actual, cold, hard fortune. Just in case that wasn't enough, brides of yore also carried bunches of herbs (which most brides now replace with expensive, out-of-season peonies) to ward off evil spirits.



We have to believe that there was a time, somewhere in history, when the whole, "Will they/won't they smash cake in each other's faces!" scenario was actually clever and original (even if we couldn't find any evidence of it). What we did find was the granddaddy predecessor to cake-face-smashing: the breaking of baked goods over the bride's head. Customarily, the groom would gnaw off a bite of barley bread and then the remainder of the loaf was held above the newlywed bride's head and then broken, showering her with crumbs and a soul-crushing message of her husband's male dominance. Guests would then scramble to pick up any wayward crumbs off the floor as they were said to bring good ... wait for it ... luck!

This tradition evolved as cake emerged as the preferred confection for wedding celebrations. Fortunately for the bride, a whole cake doesn't break in two quite as dramatically as a loaf of bread, and so it was sliced on a table instead. Rather than scrounge for lucky crumbs on the floor, guests would stand in line while the bride passed tiny, fortune-blessed morsels of cake through her own wedding ring into the hands of the waiting masses. This act also fell by the wayside, as we can only assume the bride determined that it was a lousy waste of her time. Thus began the tradition of giving out whole slices of cake to each guest, not to be eaten, but to be placed under their pillow at night for (yup, here it is again) good luck and, for the ladies, sweet dreams of their future husbands. [Image courtesy of alt text.]


This leads to another sweet, delicious, buttercream-iced mystery to be solved: Why do couples eat freezer-burned wedding cake on their one-year anniversary? To answer this, we must look to the lyrics of a schoolyard classic: First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes a baby in a baby carriage! It used to be assumed that when there was a wedding, a christening would follow shortly. So, rather than bake two cakes for the occasions, they'd just bake one big one and save a part of it to be eaten at a later date when the squealing bundle of joy arrived. Eventually folks warmed to the idea of giving the poor kid his own, newly baked cake, but the custom of saving a portion of the wedding cake far longer than it should be saved and then eating it and deluding oneself to believe that it actually tastes good is one that persists to this day.


Pelting newlyweds with uncooked starchy vegetables is a time-honored tradition meant to shower the new couple with prosperity, fertility and, of course, good fortune. Oats, grains and dried corn wereenglish-wedding.jpgalso used before rice rose to the top as the preferred symbolic sprinkle. Rice lost its popularity when it became widely rumored that if birds ate the rice, it would expand in their stomach and kill them. This is decidedly untrue, as is evidenced by the fact that birds eat dried rice and corn and other dehydrated vegetables and grains from fields all the time and we have yet to see any mention of a national, exploding-bird epidemic running on the CNN news ticker.

Rice can be a hazard to guests, who can lose their footing on rice covered pavement and take a nasty spill. Turns out, even rice alternatives have their drawbacks. Two Texas women were badly injured at a wedding in May 2008 while trying to light celebratory sparklers to send off the bride and groom. The group of sparklers ignited all at once and exploded, burning one woman's face and both of their arms. One guest at a Russian wedding in Chechnya last March decided to buck tradition altogether and threw an armed hand grenade into the unsuspecting crowd, injuring a dozen people. Our advice? Stick with rose petals. They are soft, non-hazardous, non-lethal and biodegradable.

Jenn Thompson is a freelance writer for publications including Charlotte Magazine, Weddings Unveiled, and The Atlantan.


by on Jul. 7, 2014 at 5:18 PM
Add your quick reply below:
You must be a member to reply to this post.
Replies (1-10):
by on Jul. 7, 2014 at 5:22 PM

My husband and I eloped in Vegas, and we observed none of these wedding traditions xD Personally I'm not really a fan of most of them anyway... except cake... everything should be celebrated with cake. I should celebrate today with a cake, now that I think about it :P And the explanation for not throwing away leftovers (which I have never even heard of, tbh) is SUPER weird, imo... they were saving food for a christening for a baby who presumably would not have even been born for at least another 9 months?

by Bronze Member on Jul. 7, 2014 at 7:19 PM

Hmmm...let me try to remember. LOL

I did wear a white dress.

We didn't have a traditional wedding party. He had his best friend (who was female) stand up for him and I had my best male friend stand up for me. That same friend also walked me down the aisle and "gave me away". My Dad was in attendance at the wedding but I did not wish for him to be a part of the ceremony. (long story)

I did something borrowed/something blue/something old/something new. No penny though.

We did save a piece of cake but I feel like we ended up throwing it away at some point.

No rice.

We had a wedding cake at our reception.

I think we did the garter and bouquet, but I honestly don't remember doing it.

by on Jul. 7, 2014 at 7:44 PM
We first got married at the JOP, and I just wore the best thing I had with me (I was visiting my fiancé--now husband-- while he was on active duty in the military, not quite a year post-9/11...we had no idea what the future held in store in regards to his military service.) I think I might have done the Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue. Other than that, I don't think any of these traditions were done. About a year later, we had an outdoor ceremony with family and friends. My dress was off-white, no veil... My dad walked me down the aisle (but I rode a horse to where my dad was waiting on me). We fed each other a piece of smashing. And we had a wedding party. I threw my bouquet, but I wasn't even wearing a garter. The garter toss at weddings is really uncomfortable, to me...
by on Jul. 7, 2014 at 7:47 PM

No white dress.  Mine was champagne.  

We did have the wedding party.  But, not the ugly dresses.  The dresses the bridesmaids wore were nice evening gowns that have been worn numerous times since.  Even my junior bridesmaid wore hers for her 5th grade graduation and for formal dinner on a cruise.

My daddy gave me away AND married us.  He is a minister and was a very proud daddy indeed.

No garter or bouquet toss.  Everyone there was married except my junior bridesmaid.  Seemed pretty senseless.

I did the something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue.  No penny in my shoe.  My shoes were painful enough on their own, thanks.  LOL.

We had a beautiful wedding cake with champagne frosting.  And, yes, we saved the top tier to have on our 1st anniversary.  But, ours wasn't freezer burnt.  It had a special bakery box that it was in.  I placed it in the freezer overnight.  Then, I wrapped it in plastic wrap, put it back in the box and back into the freezer.  Onour 1st anniversary, I took it out and took off the plastic wrap while it was still frozen.  Then, let it thaw in my covered cake dish in the fridge.  The cake was DELICIOUS!  It was moist and tasty!  Not dry and freezer burnt.  It's all about knowing how to freeze food properly.  =)

We did not throw rice.  First of all, like most venues, it wasn't allowed.  Second, it represents firtility for the couple.  DH and I are older and done having kids.  No beed for fertility.  LOL.

by Bronze Member on Jul. 7, 2014 at 7:52 PM
I wore white but no veil, my dad walked me down the aisle, we had a wedding party to include close friends , I had the old, new.... But it was easy since my mom had some items and our wedding color was blue, we had a cake but didn't smash. I refused to do a bouquet, garter toss (no one missed it), rice or bubbles or any of that was not even thought about except unnecessary. I would've had cake but someone stole it which was sad, it was really good
by Ruby Member on Jul. 7, 2014 at 11:46 PM
These are all interesting! I never knew any of this
by Member on Jul. 8, 2014 at 11:07 PM
I had the white dress and my dad have me away (good thing too because my DH surprised me in his military uniform and I stopped dead. My father yanked me forward again lol).

As for the wedding party, we kept it small. No they didn't have to yank me from my parents or his me from evil spirits or ex lovers. I did let them, with some guidance from me but not much, pick what they wanted to wear so it would be something they wore again though.

I didn't wear a garter and since we kept the guest list limited to very close immediate family, I didn't only had two single friends and decided I wasn't going to embarrass them with by doing a toss.

The something old was actually a military dog tag from one of my grandfathers as well as a necklace my other grandfather have my grandmother. The something new was a bracelet from my MIL. I borrowed another bracelet from a good friend, my MOH in fact. I wore blue socks (I had Keds shoes on) and yes even had the sixpence in my shoe.

As for the cake, we had cheesecake and cupcakes. Guests served themselves (outdoor buffet style wedding). When it came to cake smashing, we kept it civil and each had a small bite and then are our own pieces. Also because it was cheesecake, that gets frozen for shipping purposes, it froze really well and we enjoyed it a year later just fine.

No we didn't throw rice or anything for that matter. We did have games for guests to play however. It was a fun time. We are laid back if you couldn't guess. Lol
by on Jul. 9, 2014 at 9:37 AM

all without 5th one ;)

by Emerald Member on Jul. 9, 2014 at 10:00 AM

We enjoyed all of these traditions. I considered them a nod to the past generations. The frozen cake was just a pleasant memory of the special day, and it tasted just fine. The father giving the bride away - I was pleased that my dad proudly walked down the aisle with me and as head of the family essentially demonstrated to everyone that he approved of my choice of husband and trusted me into his care.

by on Jul. 9, 2014 at 12:12 PM
We pretty much did them all, except we didn't have rice we had bubbles. Also, no one "gave me away" my dad just walked me down the isle. I didn't wear a veil that covered my face either. Mine just hung in back. We also didn't shove cake in each others faces (I didn't want to end up with it on my dress or in my hair, lol).
Add your quick reply below:
You must be a member to reply to this post.
Join the Meeting Place for Moms!
Talk to other moms, share advice, and have fun!

(minimum 6 characters)