More stories about wedding traditions

Ring Around the Finger

In 860 A.D., Pope Nicholas I pronounced that an engagement ring become a required statement of nuptial intent. He also insisted that engagement rings be made of gold, which signified a financial sacrifice on the part of the prospective husband. The tradition of wearing a wedding ring on the third finger of the left hand is traced back to an ancient Greek belief that a vein in this finger runs directly to the heart. And, you can blame Pope Innocent III for the custom of having both an engagement and a wedding ring. During the 13th century, he instituted a waiting period between engagement and marriage and also insisted that a ring be used in the wedding ceremony. Before that, rings were used to seal an engagement only (as well as other important agreements).

Sealed With a Kiss

The wedding kiss dates back to the earliest days of civilization when a kiss was used as the formal seal to agreements and contracts. The kiss was considered legally binding, and it became a wedding custom to seal the marriage vows at the end of the ceremony. In many cultures, the wedding kiss also symbolizes the swapping of souls between the bride and groom.

Toss Me a Garter

Many things are thrown through the air at weddings: rice (for fertility), bouquets (for luck and protection), and garters (also for luck). Throwing rice originated from an ancient Pagan tradition of showering a happy couple with grain, rice, and nuts to wish them a fruitful union. Pagans believed that the fertility of the seeds would be transferred to the couple on whom they fell. The tossing of the bridal bouquet and the garter go back to England and the belief that a bride, through her garments, could pass on her good fortune. In order to keep from getting their dresses ripped off their bodies, brides began throwing their bouquets and garters to the overly zealous guests.

Why Left?

During the marriage ceremony, the bride traditionally stands on the left and the groom on the right. In the days of yore, weddings were much more exciting, with uninvited guests - often thugs and warriors but sometimes heroes - crashing the ceremony to abduct or rescue, depending on the circumstances, the bride. The groom, needing to keep his right hand free to grab his sword, always stood on the right, and the bride, out of the way, on the left.

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