Weddings 101: Five Wedding Traditions and Their Surprising Origins

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Over the years, we may have attended many weddings and noticed a lot of universal elements that seem present in each and every one of them. In the magical glow of the wedding venue, we have seen the groom bestow a kiss on the bride, we have seen the bride joyously throw her bouquet to a gaggle of single ladies, we have seen wedding guests showing the newly wedded couple with rice or flowers–all these and more. But, have you ever wondered where all of these came from? Where did these wedding traditions originate and what do they signify?

Well, this article has compiled a list of the most common wedding traditions and their corresponding origins as well as meanings. Here are some of the most beloved and practiced wedding traditions all over the globe:

1.) Bachelor Party

Bachelor parties have always been a bane to a bride’s existence, and more often than not, brides-to-be see this as an event to dread. It seems that most bachelor parties have been associated with night’s of drunken orgies and hiring strippers for a party. However, before it became a night dedicated to pure debauchery, this was a night where Ancient Romans would gather in a feast they dubbed as a “Bachelor Dinner.” They would then toast their comrade and kidnap the bride after that.

2.) Bridal Shower

This wedding practice is said to have been stemmed from a tradition in Holland. It was said that there was a bride whose father did not approve of her husband and refused her any dowry. As a result, her friends would all collectively shower her with gifts of any kind so that the bride would have a necessary dowry and would be able to marry the man of her choosing. Then, the woman who was not bestowed dowry by her father would be given a shower by her friends. Regardless of whether this legend is true, a bridal shower seems to have stemmed from the idea of friends and neighbors showering the bride with gifts because her father did not approve of her husband-to-be or was too poor to afford any dowry.

3.) White Wedding Dress

Today, modern weddings have brides walking the aisle in a white gown of her choice but not too long ago; a bridal dress was simply just the best dress she has in her closet–regardless of whether it was white or not. However, it was not until Queen Victoria’s wedding in the 1840’s wherein the hue of the wedding dress was vastly preferred to be white did the wedding tradition began. It was her iconic white wedding dress that started it all. Although brides still wore bridal dresses of other colors, it was her decision that inspired many brides-to-be to do the same.

4.) Wearing a veil

In the Roman times, veils were worn by Roman brides to symbolize her virginity, purity, and modesty. Although the connotation of why the bride is required to wear a veil has been lost over the years, the tradition of donning one still continues. It is also interesting to note that the Roman veil would cover the bride from head to foot. Sometimes later, it would be used as a burial shroud.

5.) Something old, new, borrowed and blue

Although this practice is mainly out of superstition, this tradition dated back to the Victorian era and was said to bring the bride good luck. The old aspect of the superstition was meant to tie the bride to her past and her family while the new would represent her new life in her new family. Brides were supposed to borrow an item from a successfully married woman in hopes of bringing that woman’s success in marriage into her own. Lastly, blue was said to symbolize purity.

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Wedding Cake Cutting – The Do’s and Don’ts

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Where do you want to get married? Our Lady of Remedies, Binondo Church or Nuestra Señora de Gracia? Well, wherever you may want to marry, there is one cannot-be-missed element of any Filipino wedding – the wedding cake! Ever-superstitious that we are, even the simple act of cake cutting connotes future consequences.

In the Philippines, it is more of a tradition than just being the culmination of the wedding program. The bride and groom should cut the first piece together. It symbolizes the first task that the couple had to do together. After the actual cake cutting, the newlyweds need to feed each other from the first slice of the cake. The act symbolizes their commitment to share and provide for one another. This also symbolizes the love, respect and honor they have for each other.

While it may be heavy with symbolism, here are some reminders to keep the cake cutting a piece of cake (pun intended).

Do’s

1) Whether you are having a morning, afternoon or evening wedding, you must cut the cake before the waitpersons serve the dessert. That’s right after the meal. This is particularly true if the wedding cake will serve as the dessert.

2) Inform the master(s) of the ceremony to announce the cake cutting clearly. This is a momentous event and everyone would want to witness it and of course, take photos.

3) Use a cake serving set. Most caterers in the Philippines provide the set as an inclusion to the package.

4) Cut the cake together. The right hand of the groom must gently hold the right hand of the bride. Slice the cake layer through its bottom. Typically, the bottom tier of the cake should be sliced.

5) Pause for a while. So that, everyone can take pictures of the ceremonial first cut. Be gracious enough to accommodate the simple requests of your guests.

6) The groom should feed the bride first.

7) Offer cake slices to your in-laws. The groom must serve the bride’s parents with the cake while the bride should serve the groom’s parents.

8) Cut the cake and serve it to your guests.

For practical reasons,

  • Taste test the wedding cake before placing an order.
  • Place an order early.
  • Make it edible.
  • Coordinate it with the wedding theme and motif.
  • Cut the cake where everyone can see it.
  • Schedule the cake cutting.

Don’ts

1) Cut the top layer of the cake. Top tiers are not suitable for the ceremonial first cut because it makes the entire cake unstable. Also, you need to save and freeze the top layer and eat it on your first anniversary.

2) Use your hand or fingers in feeding one another. The serving set comes with a dessert fork which is more appropriate to use.

3) Smash the cake to each other’s faces. Again, it is a tradition and mocking it will not make your parents happy. The cake cutting ceremony must be a respectable practice, so don’t ruin it.

For practical reasons, don’t

  • Choose an inedible cake. Cakes are not for display only; they’ll be eaten, too.
  • Overwhelm the cake with too many embellishments and add-ons.
  • Make the wedding cake yourself. Or, you’ll look too haggard on the wedding day itself.
  • Forget to make cake delivery arrangements. Never transport it by yourself; cake transportation requires specific techniques.
  • Forget the cake topper. Pick a topper that’s ‘so you.’
  • Forget the cake table. The cake must be well-presented to the guests.

Cake cutting is perhaps the most awaited part of a wedding. Above are some of the do’s and don’ts when cutting your wedding cake. This is one first-time that should also be the last-time. So, do it right!

Image credit: Confetti.co.uk