7 Wedding Traditions With Beginnings That May Surprise You (PHOTOS)

by Maressa Brown May 13, 2013 at 9:00 PM
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Image via Jennifer Goldberg-Alweiss/Cake by Filled & Frosted Cakes

The Wedding Cake

Although we hear all about how our four-tier buttercream or fondant wedding cakes are supposed to symbolize the foundation of your relationship and good fortune as you cut into the bottom tier together, that wasn't always the case. This wedding tradition's predecessor involved the breaking of bread over the bride's head. A groom would eat barley bread, then hold up the remainder of the loaf above his bride's head and shower her with the crumbs. (Just in case she didn't already know her place by that point!) Guests would scramble for the crumbs, because they were supposed to be good luck. Sheesh.

Although we hear all about how our four-tier buttercream or fondant wedding cakes are supposed to symbolize the foundation of your relationship and good fortune as you cut into the bottom tier together, that wasn't always the case. This wedding tradition's predecessor involved the breaking of bread over the bride's head. A groom would eat barley bread, then hold up the remainder of the loaf above his bride's head and shower her with the crumbs. (Just in case she didn't already know her place by that point!) Guests would scramble for the crumbs, because they were supposed to be good luck. Sheesh.

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Filed Under: weddings
Maressa Brown
ABOUT THE AUTHOR Maressa Brown

has enjoyed reporting and writing for a variety of entertainment and women's magazines and websites. More often than not, you'll find her blogging, hitting the gym, reading, researching something on her iPhone, laughing, chatting at an above-"normal" volume, or getting her caffeine fix.

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Comments 12

LadyM...
LadyMinni
May 13, 2013 at 11:09 PM

Not exactly....

The flowers are a pagan thing -just like pretty much everything involving weddings. Flowers represent nature and the Maiden. (And fertility.)

The crushing of the barley cake over the bride's head was a fertility ritual. It had nothing to do with letting her know her place.

You missed one of the veil traditions: in certain cultures the father of the bride could switch the daughter being married (to marry off one that was unattractive) and the groom wouldn't know until he said his vows!

Carrying the bride over the threshold is a Roman tradition. In addition to what you wrote, there is another part to it. The bride had to enter her new home by the front door, and stumbling as she entered (looooong train) would bring bad luck and possible infertility. Demons/spirits could also grab onto her feet as she walked over it, and enter the home. To avoid this the groom would pick her up and carry her.

SuzyB...
SuzyBarno
May 13, 2013 at 11:18 PM
Whatev! They're all fun traditions now:)
Facebook comment from Teal Chastain Blacksten
May 14, 2013 at 1:20 AM

A wedding tradition that I absolutely hate is the prospective groom asking his future father-in-law for his daughter's hand in marriage. I specifically requested that my now husband NOT ask my dad for my hand. Women are not property where the deed gets transferred from one man to another, and shouldn't be treated as such. Even if it is just a "tradition."

ms_da...
ms_danielle_j
May 14, 2013 at 8:58 AM

I'm not jumping the broom at my wedding...that tradition is for slaves and i'm not a slave...no one is allowing me to get married because it's 2013 and I don't need anyone's permission to get hitched!

nonmember avatar
Nonmember comment from K
May 14, 2013 at 9:44 AM
The garter toss is so tacky/trashy. The nicer weddings I've been to never did it and I won't. I can't believe people still do it.
nekoy...
nekoyukidoll
May 14, 2013 at 10:13 AM

When I get married, I'm doing a pagen ceremony which will include handfasting and the jumping of the broom plus others.  I'll do the traditional stuff too but I love the symbolism of the pagan this as well.

nonmember avatar
Nonmember comment from Mechelle
May 14, 2013 at 3:39 PM
I think the fiancé asking the father is a sign of respect not signing a deed over. The father protects and provides for his daughter and I see the fiancé asking permission as a way of asking to take over the responsibility of protecting and providing for her. I could never marry a man who didn't ask my father first.
LadyM...
LadyMinni
May 14, 2013 at 3:55 PM

Jumping the broom is actually a Romani tradition! It was confused with the -I believe- Ethiopian tradition of waving a broom over the couple to "clean" them of their mistakes before marriage and keep spirits away. When the Romani were enslaved by free Africans down in the Caribbean, it transferred and got mixed up.

PRIMA487
PRIMA487
May 14, 2013 at 4:43 PM

I'm with you on that one Ms Danielle!We are allowed to marry and don't need to have a made up ceremony,we can marry legally now.

lalab...
lalaboosh
May 14, 2013 at 7:34 PM
I read some interesting stuff about traditions while planning my wedding. The breaking of the glass is done in many cultures, Italians break a vase and each piece is a year of wedded bliss. Bridesmaids are particularly interesting: Roman bridesmaids dressed as the bride (to confuse kidnappers) and protected her from assault and kidnapping en route to the ceremony, and in Victorian times bridesmaids dressed like the bride to confuse evil spirits intent on casting bad luck on the marriage (that's where 'always a bridesmaid' comes from). Before Queen Victoria made virginal white all the rage for brides blue was a favorite bridal color, it represents loyalty and is now the 'something blue.' :)
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