The Meaning of Something Old, Something New… & Five Common Wedding Traditions

Weddings are steeped in tradition, but do you know the origins of those traditions? Have you ever wondered why it’s considered bad luck for the bride and groom to see each other before the ceremony? Or why a bride’s “somethings” have become essential?  Below are five common wedding traditions.

 #1:  Something Old, New, Borrowed, and Blue

Screen Shot 2014-05-21 at 11.40.12 PMThis tradition is intended to bring good luck and stems from an old English rhyme, “Something Olde, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue, a Silver Sixpence in Her Shoe.” Although brides in the United States follow only the first four parts of the rhyme, something old represents a connection to the bride’s family and past while something new represents the couple’s happy future.  Something borrowed should come from a happily married couple in the hopes of borrowing their good fortune and something blue symbolizes fidelity and love.


#2: Bad Luck to See the Bride Before the Wedding

Screen Shot 2014-05-22 at 12.18.55 PMThis superstition has its roots in the days of arranged marriages when the betrothed couple wasn’t even allowed to see each other before the ceremony. A marriage was more of a business transaction between families. If the groom saw the bride, he might not like her appearance and call off the wedding. It therefore became tradition that the bride and groom met for the first time at the ceremony. The bridal veil played a big role in this custom. The bride’s face remained covered until after the marriage, at which point, the groom was committed to her and couldn’t back out of the transaction. The veil was also thought to protect a bride from evil spirits. This tradition has remanded because what can compare with the look on the groom’s face as his beautiful bride walks down the aisle and he sees her for the first time.


#3:  Giving the Bride Away

Screen Shot 2014-05-22 at 12.43.58 PMThe tradition of the father giving away his daughter also has its origins in the days of arranged marriages. In those days, a daughter was considered her father’s property and, as such, he had the right to “give her away” for a predetermined price.  Today, giving away the bride is symbolic of a father’s blessing of the marriage.




#4:The Ring Finger

Screen Shot 2014-05-22 at 12.37.45 PMWhy is the wedding ring worn on the fourth finger of your left hand? One theory is that the Romans believed that particular finger housed a vein that traveled directly to the heart. Another less romantic and more practical theory is that the soft metal of the ring would be less damaged on the second to the least used finger of the left hand, since most of the population is right-handed.



#5: Saving the Wedding Cake

Screen Shot 2014-05-22 at 12.30.38 PMThe tradition of saving the top tier of the wedding cake started in England in the 19th century, when a wedding cake was made of brandy-soaked fruit that was easily preserved for long periods. At the time, it was assumed and expected that a baby would follow the wedding within the first year. Rather than bake two cakes for two occasions, couples would save the top tier for the christening. Today, most couples wait longer than one year to start a family so the tradition has evolved into freezing the cake for the first anniversary. Eating it together on your first anniversary is said to bring good fortune to your marriage.


Traditions play a significant role in the ceremonies of our lives, and are so engrained in our culture that we don’t think to question them. How these charming traditions started and what they once meant are less important than the fact that we share the memories of those traditions with our family and friends. Embrace your culture’s wedding traditions; they connect you to your family’s past, future and the larger community.

Do you have questions or comments about gift-giving or wedding etiquette? Please email us at We will personally respond to your questions and may also use them as the subject of a future blog.






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