16 Wedding Traditions and Superstitions
For better or for worse? Spiders, evil spirits, and other marriage omens that have been brewing for hundreds of years.
Ever wonder where "something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue" came from? Or why it's considered bad luck to give knives as a wedding gift? From the bizarre to the spooky, learn more about popular wedding superstitions and practices—and their origins.
Something Old, New, Borrowed, and Blue
We've all heard this rhyme used when someone gets married, but what does it mean? Wearing "something old" represents the bride's past, while the "something new" symbolizes the couple's happy future. The bride is supposed to get her "something borrowed" from someone who is happily married in the hope that some of that person's good fortune rubs off on her. "Something blue" denotes fidelity and love.
Wearing a Veil
This custom traces its roots back to Rome. Fearing evil spirits were jealous of her happiness, the bride would wear a veil down the aisle to disguise herself from them and avoid any ill will they would bring upon her.
Rain on Your Wedding Day
In some cultures, rain on your wedding day symbolizes fertility and cleansing. This couple's wedding was interrupted by a torrential downpour, and nine months to the day of the wedding, their daughter was born.
Knives as Wedding Gifts
According to folklore, a knife signifies a broken relationship and is bad luck to give as a wedding present. If knives are on your registry, just give the gift giver a penny. That way, it's considered a purchase.
Carrying the Bride Over the Threshold
This superstition began in medieval Europe, when many believed that a bride was extra vulnerable to evil spirits through the soles of her feet. To avoid bringing in any evil spirits, the groom carried the bride into their new home.
A Spider on Your Wedding Dress
Finding an eight-legged creature on your gorgeous gown might seem like a big-day nightmare, but English lore claims that it's a good omen.
Using Your Married Name Before the Wedding
Some think it is tempting fate for the bride to write out her married name or monogram before she's actually married, and that the wedding will not take place if she does so. If you're superstitious, save the monogramming for your reception décor and registry items.
The Sugar Cube
According to Greek culture, placing a sugar cube on the bride will sweeten the marriage. For her wedding merging Greek and Canadian traditions, this bride had her florist, Coriander Girl, add them to the stems of her bouquet.
Crossing a Monk or Nun's Path
A bride who sees a nun or a monk on the way to her wedding is said to be cursed with a barren life dependent on charity.
Bells are traditionally chimed at Irish weddings to keep evil spirits away and to ensure a harmonious family life. Some Irish brides even carry small bells in their bouquets as a reminder of their sacred wedding vows, and they are a common gift for newlyweds.
In Italy, many newlyweds smash a vase or glass at their wedding, and they put a lot of muscle into it, too! Why? According to tradition, however many pieces the glassware breaks into will symbolize how many years the couple will be happily married.
Crying on Your Wedding Day
It is supposed to be good luck for the bride to cry on her wedding day because it symbolizes that she has shed all her tears and will not have any to shed during her marriage. So go ahead and get teary-eyed. Just be sure to wear some waterproof mascara!
Bury the Bourbon
Southern folklore says that to prevent rain on your big day, you should bury a bottle of bourbon upside down at the wedding site one month before and dig it up after the ceremony to enjoy.
Seeing Each Other Before the Wedding
This superstition dates back to the time of arranged marriages, when people believed that if the couple saw each other before the ceremony, it would give them a chance to change their minds about the wedding. Today, however, many couples choose to meet up and even have portrait sessions before saying their I do's.
Tossing the Garter
Back in the Dark Ages, the garter was considered a hot item. It's said that family and friends would wait outside the nuptial bedchamber until they were shown evidence—sheets, stockings, a garter—that the marriage had been consummated (seriously!). In time, the garter came to symbolize good luck, and rowdy guests began making a game of trying to strip the bride of that little fabric band. To distract the mob, brides began tossing it into the crowd. Today, the practice usually involves the groom throwing the garter to a group of single men; whoever catches it is believed to be the next to marry.
When Queen Victoria opted to crown her wedding cake with mini sculptures of herself and Prince Albert in 1840, the bride-and-groom cake topper was born. By the 1920s, the trend had crossed the pond to the United States, gaining popularity in the 1950s when couple figurines came to symbolize marital stability. Today, toppers aren't always cookie-cutter brides and grooms, but personalized sculptures highlighting a pair's identities, pets, or hobbies.