In the enchanting world of weddings, even modern ones, traditions and superstitions play a fascinating role; they often weave a tapestry of beliefs, customs, and age-old practices. From warding off mischievous spirits to inviting good fortune and safeguarding love, these superstitions have stood the test of time and been passed down through generations. They may not hold magical value anymore, but we can still feel their cultural presence today. Here are the 10 most common wedding superstitions in the UK.
1. Proposal on One Knee
The tradition of proposing on one knee dates back centuries, although its exact origins are unknown. Some suggest it has roots embedded in chivalry and respect. In mediaeval times, knights would often kneel before their lords or ladies as a sign of obedience and devotion. This practice was called bending the knee, or genuflection.
Today, many people still get down on their knees to propose. Kneeling is a gesture of humility and submission. It shows that your partner is willing to commit the rest of his or her life to you. It symbolises the depth of admiration and esteem the proposer holds for their beloved.
2. The Couple Can’t See Each Other
One of the old superstitions is that the groom mustn’t see the bride before the wedding ceremony. In old times, when arranged marriages were common, the bride and groom couldn’t even meet before the marriage ceremony. One belief behind this superstition suggests that seeing each other before the wedding brings bad luck.
Today, many couples uphold this superstition to honour tradition. Some modern couples decide not to see each other for 24 hours before the wedding. Waiting until the ceremony to lay eyes on each other will heighten the anticipation and excitement of the moment.
3. Rain on the Wedding Day
While some might initially view rain as an unwelcome guest, a wedding superstition holds that rain on the wedding day is a sign of good luck. Rain is often seen as a symbol of cleansing and renewal. In some cultures, people believe that rain will wash away any past misfortunes or negative energies.
Some cultures view rain as a blessing from the heavens – a sign that a higher power is celebrating and blessing the union. Rain is also associated with fertility in some cultures and is a sign that the couple will have lots of healthy kids.
4. Hen and Stag Parties
Hen and stag parties are vibrant celebrations people hold before a wedding. It is where the bride-to-be and groom-to-be gather with their closest friends to mark the end of their single lives.
These parties have roots in ancient Greece and Sparta, where the future bride and groom held a feast with their friends and family. The feasts involved some rite-of-passage rituals as well as sacrifices to the gods. In Western culture, the all-female feast was called the hen party much later, and the all-male one was called a stag party.
The presence of friends and family at these events still symbolises the community’s support for the couple. It reinforces the idea that the couple is entering marriage with a strong foundation of friendships.
5. The Bride Throws Her Bouquet
The act of throwing the bouquet originated from mediaeval stories and traditions. It is a symbol of the bride sharing her happiness and good fortune with her single friends and guests. Here, the bride throws the bouquet over her shoulder, and her single friends gather to catch it. It is thought that the person who catches it will be the next to marry.
Some couples choose to incorporate alternative rituals, like the groom throwing the bride’s garter, in addition to the bouquet toss or as a replacement. Here, the single man would be at the receiving end, and the one catching the garter would be the one marrying next.
6. Something Old, Something New,…
The expression “something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue” is a saying associated with weddings. This saying often conveys the tradition of a bride incorporating these four items or elements into her wedding attire or ceremony. This English rhyme dates back to at least the late 19th century, but it likely has even earlier origins. The common belief is that this age-old wedding superstition will bring good luck and blessings to the bride.
7. What Day to Get Married
The belief in lucky and unlucky days to marry is a fascinating and enduring tradition. In the UK, Saturday is considered the luckiest day to get married. It is a popular choice because it allows guests to attend without taking time off work. Friday, the 13th, on the other hand, is an unlucky day for marriage ceremonies to happen. This superstition is not unique to the UK and is widespread in many parts of the world.
When it comes to the months of the year, June is the luckiest month for marriage in Western traditions, partly because of the Roman goddess Juno, who is the goddess of marriage and well-being.
8. Wearing the Ring on the Fourth Finger
The tradition of wearing a ring on the fourth finger of the left hand can be traced back thousands of years. The fourth finger is considered the “ring finger” for a reason – it symbolises the bond of love and commitment between two people.
Some ancient cultures, like the Romans, believed that the fourth finger of the left hand contained a vein that was directly connected to the heart. Nevertheless, the fourth finger is also a practical choice because it is the least used finger and might as well carry the burden of the ring.
9. The Story behind White Wedding Dress
The tradition of brides wearing white wedding dresses is a blend of historical influences and cultural symbolism. Since ancient times, white has symbolised purity, youth, and joy, but a white dress was not as trendy as it is today.
The common belief is that Queen Victoria was the first person to wear white on her wedding day. Her choice of a white silk satin gown created a sensation and set a fashion trend. The tradition continued to gain popularity throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, and people now recognise and cherish this custom in many parts of the world.
10. The Story behind Wearing a Veil
In ancient cultures, the veil was intended to cover the bride’s face. They thought it shielded the bride from evil spirits and ensured that she appeared modest and demure on her wedding day. In some other cultures with arranged marriages, veils served the practical purpose of concealing the bride’s identity from the groom until the ceremony was complete.
Today, brides may choose to wear veils for cultural, religious, or personal reasons. While some embrace the tradition and its symbolism, others may opt for alternative headpieces or forego veils altogether to reflect their individual style and beliefs.
Throughout history, superstitions have shaped lots of wedding traditions and cultures. Whether one chooses to embrace these superstitions wholeheartedly or simply appreciate them as charming customs, they remain a big part of our wedding culture.