Your ABC guide to wedding traditions

IF THERE is one day of your life that you want to run smoothly and without hiccups, it is your wedding day.

And with an endless list of customs to think about, it is easy to become lost in a sea of what you should and should not be doing.

So what are the most well-known customs and where do they come from?

Here is the Advertiser Brides’ Guide to getting it right:


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The rhyme originated in Victorian times although some of customs referred in it are much older.

The "something old" represents the couple's friends who will hopefully remain close during the marriage. Traditionally this was old garter which given to the bride by a happily married woman in the hope that her happiness in marriage would be passed on to the new bride.

"Something new" symbolises the newlyweds' happy and prosperous future.

The "something borrowed" is often lent by the bride's family and is an item much valued by the family. The bride must return the item to ensure good luck.

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The custom of the bride wearing "something blue" originated in ancient Israel where the bride wore a blue ribbon in her hair to represent fidelity.


It is unlucky for the groom to see the bride in her wedding dress until she arrives at the ceremony.  The bride should not wear her entire outfit before the wedding day. Most brides today marry in white which symbolises maidenhood. The tradition was given a boost by Queen Victoria who chose to marry in white instead of silver which was the traditional colour of Royal brides. Before the white dress brides wore their best dress.


Some people choose the flowers at the wedding on the basis of their symbolic meaning. Orange blossom signifies purity and chastity,  roses symbolise love and snowdrops represent hope.


When the bride is ready to leave the house a last look in the mirror will bring her good luck. Seeing a chimney sweep on the way to a wedding is thought to bring good luck. Other good luck omens include lambs, toads, spiders, black cats and rainbows.


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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.

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.

Another old English custom was to place a ring in the wedding cake. The guest who found the ring in their piece of cake would be ensured happiness for the next year. It is said that unmarried guests who place a piece of wedding cake under their pillow before sleeping will increase their 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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After the reception the bride throws her bouquet back over her shoulder and whoever catches the bouquet will be the next to marry.

A parallel custom is for the groom to remove the garter worn by the bride and throw it back over his shoulder toward the unmarried male guests. Again the one who catches it will be the next to marry.


The term "honeymoon" is thought to originate from the times when a man captured his bride. The couple would hide from the bride's parents before marrying. The couple would remain in hiding for a further cycle of the moon after the wedding. During this period they drank honey wine.

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