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Wedding Traditions & Superstitions

Find out why brides opt for a veil and why the best man had to be a dab hand with a sword.

We love an insight story and we also love weddings.  We’ve trawled through the folklore, asked our knowledge buffs and added a little bit of insider knowledge to give you a wee peek at some of the traditions (and superstitions) you may have taken for granted.


The Bridal Bouquet

Originally, the bridal bouquet wasn’t held and paraded down the aisle because it looked pretty, it had a  bigger purpose than matching the colour scheme.  Before bridal perfumes came to be, strong herbs and potent flowers were used to mask the bride’s odour.  Rumour has it, garlic was often used to warn off evil spirits too.

Veil of Protection

Everyone loves to accessorise on their wedding day and you’ve probably always thought that the veil is the ultimate wedding accessory.  Way back before your biggest worry was someone Instagramming your dress before the evening guests arrive, brides had to stress about being attacked by evil spirits.  Adds a new meaning to ‘wedding stress’…

Wedding Favours

Today, most couples opt for favours to give as guests as a momento of the day and are in keeping with the wedding style or theme.  But before disposable cameras and miniature gins, five almonds were wrapped up in a pretty box and given to guests, representing fertility, longevity, wealth, happiness and health – some people still offer Georgian almonds, showing the tradition still goes strong.


Today, your bridesmaids are your closest friends and family members chosen to help with wedding planning and share ideas with, however the tradition of bridesmaids is actually a Roman custom.  In Roman times, the bride would have 10 witnesses dress identical to her, acting as decoys against evil spirits trying to harm the bride – those evil spirits were once a busy bunch!  The lookalikes were also seen as extra protection should a rejected suitor try to kidnap the bride on her way to the temple.  Just a little bit more responsibility than helping with colour schemes and bathroom breaks!


Groomsmen – a couple of close family and friends that have been selected on the basis of throwing a great stag party?  Well that wasn’t always the case.  Traditionally a groom selected his groomsmen based solely on how good they were with a sword.  The Best Man was actually just the best swordsman that would be able to protect the bride and groom during the ceremony from any potential threats.

Giving the Bride Away

Be warned, this one isn’t quite as romantic as you would like to think.  This one is another tradition from Roman times, where marriages were usually pre-arranged agreements.  The tradition of the bride’s father ‘giving her away’ symbolises the act of him quite literally giving his daughter away to her new owner – usually in exchange for a price or dowry.  How romantic!

The Wedding Ring

A circle (or ring) – a symbol of eternity and an unbroken promise of love and commitment to one another.  A circle also has no beginning and no end, implying that the marriage and love that a couple share also has no end and is eternal.  But why is it on the fourth finger of the left hand?  Back to those pesky Romans.  The Romans believed that there was a vein that connected the finger to the heart – unfortunately, this has since been found as scientifically inaccurate, but it’s a sweet thought all the same that seems to have stuck.

The Wedding Breakfast

One of the most popular asked questions – why is it called a ‘wedding breakfast’?  The meal has nothing to do with the time of day it is served, but it’s simply the first meal that the newly-wed couple share after their marriage has taken place.  Traditionally, people would have fasted from midnight before the wedding took place and then once you were married, the priest would bless the first meal taken.

Over the Threshold

Yes, you probably already live together, but letting your new partner carry you into your home is a fun and romantic tradition.  Once upon a time, going into your new home was the first time you had entered the house – it was seen as scandalous if you ran eagerly through the door.  Another reason was (you guessed it), evil spirits.  They were a busy bunch, lurking at the threshold and tripping over new brides at the entrance of her marital home.  Just to be safe, have him carry you inside and you’ll be fine.


Rain on your Wedding Day

In Scotland, we’re rather partial to a rainy day, but in many cultures, it’s actually seen as good luck.  And if you’re really lucky (especially in Scottish terms) the sun will break through and decorate the sky with a rainbow.

Itsy Bitsy Spider

Many brides might be horrified at the thought of a spider crawling over their expensive wedding dress, but in English folklore it was seen as a sign of good luck!  It was so lucky in fact, that you would often find the bridal party hiding a spider in the hem of the dress.

Tissues at the Ready

It’s okay to cry.  In fact, it’s actually said to be helpful for the future for your married life to cry on your wedding day.  It’s said that a bride that cries whilst getting married is thought to have no tears left for married life.  Just make sure to remember the waterproof mascara!

Keep his tie Straight

The groom’s tie should be perfectly straight when he enters the ceremony.  Not for fear of being a slob, but apparently if it’s crooked, superstition has it that the groom will be unfaithful to his future partner.  So, if you must, have your bridesmaid go to check that his tie is as straight as a ruler, or opt for a bow-tie for good measure!

No Pearls, No Tears

Here’s a new one – bride’s jewellery should never include pearls, as they represent the tears a bride will shed during the marriage.  You should be safe with crystals and diamonds though – they are thought to bring you good fortune due to their purity and transparency.  But we’re sure you’ll be happy, regardless of what jewellery you choose to wear!

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