Superstitions

Traditionally, brides have been thought to be particularly vulnerable to evil spirits and many of the
customs and traditions associated with weddings are to provide protection. The veil was originally worn by Roman brides. It was thought that it would disguise the bride and therefore outwit malevolent spirits.

The veil became popular in Britain in the eighteen hundreds. In this country it is associated with modesty and chastity.

In some Eastern ceremonies the bride is veiled and the groom is not allowed to see the bride’s face until after the wedding ceremony.

In some Jewish weddings there is a ritual where the groom ensures that the bride is his intended before placing the veil over her face.

After the wedding the bride must enter the new marital home through the main entrance. It is traditional for the groom to carry the bride over the threshold when they enter for the first time. The reason for this is uncertain. One explanation is that the bride will be visited by bad luck if she falls when entering. An alternative is that the bride will be unlucky if she steps into the new home with the left foot first. The bride can avoid both mishaps by being carried. A third explanation is that it symbolises the old Anglo-Saxon custom of the groom stealing his bride and carrying her off.

Hindu’s have a similar tradition. The bride is carried by her new husband so that she does not touch the threshold when entering her new home.

In the past there have been a number of customs involving shoes which were thought to bring good luck. The best known, which is still upheld, is to tie shoes to the back of the newlyweds’ car. This has evolved from the Tudor custom where guests would throw shoes at the newlywed couple. It was considered lucky if they or their carriage were hit.

Less well known is for the bride’s father to give the groom a pair of the bride’s shoes to symbolise the passing of responsibility for the daughter to her new husband. A variation of the custom is for the groom to tap the bride on the forehead with one of the shoes to assert his dominance.

The custom of the bride throwing her bouquet over her shoulder, described on the traditions page, was originally performed by her throwing one of her shoes over her shoulder.

Cutting the wedding cake is now part of the ritual celebrations at the reception. The couple make the first cut together to symbolise their shared future.

Cakes have been associated with weddings throughout history. The Romans shared a cake during the wedding ceremony itself. This was not the rich fruit-cake we enjoy today. It was a plain confection made from wheat flour, salt and water. The Fijians and Some Native American tribes still incorporate cake in the wedding ceremonies.

In Britain early cakes were flat and round and contained fruit and nuts which symbolise fertility.

In the past the custom was to throw many small cakes over the bride in a similar way in which we throw confetti today. A modification of this custom was to crumble cake over the brides head and in some versions to break the cake over the Bride’s head. In Scotland Oat Cakes were used for this purpose. This was done to promote fertility.In Yorkshire a plate holding wedding cake was thrown out of the window as the bride returned to her parental home after the wedding. If the plate broke she would enjoy a happy future with her husband but if the plate remained intact her future would be grim.

Another old English custom was to place a ring in the wedding cake. The guest who found the ring in their the piece of cake would be ensured happiness for the next year.

The shape of the modern three tiered iced cake is believed to have been inspired by the spire of Saint Bride’s Church in the City of London. It is said that unmarried guests who place a piece of wedding cake under their pillow before sleeping will increase there prospects of finding a partner and bridesmaids who do likewise will dream of their future husbands.

The top tier of the cake is often kept by couples for the christening of their first child.

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