When planning a wedding, there are many facets that need to be taken into account. Which friends will be chosen as bridesmaids and groomsmen? Daisies, daffodils or dahlias for the bouquet? An elegantly demure wedding dress or something a bit riskier? It’s easy to get caught up in the wedding details and planning hype but sometimes knowing a bit of the symbolic history behind the Christian nuptial nuances helps make the day (and possibly even the planning) that much more meaningful.
1. The Rings
Although it starts with the engagement ring, it is really the wedding rings that exist as an outward symbol of the couple’s inner bond. The unending circle represents the equality and eternity of love but a more practical aspect is, that rings were literally used as the seal of authority. When pressed into hot wax, the impression left was an official seal on all legal documents. While today’s wedding rings are traditionally made of gold, indicative of love’s purity, originally, they were believed to have been made of braided hemp by the Egyptians, and then iron by the Romans.
2. White Wedding Dress
From off-white to eggshell, there are a range of hues on the white colour spectrum, but pure white for the bridal dress is still a popular choice. Traditionally, the white indicated the bride-to-be’s purity in both her heart and lifestyle. The amount of material and quality would also indicate the wealth of the families.
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3. Bridal Veil
Connected with the purity of the white wedding gown, the veil also shows the betrothed woman’s modesty. The veil is lifted by the father, symbolically passing on his daughter to her soon-to-be husband. In arranged marriages, many men did not see their future brides until the actual wedding day and the superstition dictated that the bride could not be seen before the ceremony.
4. Something old, something new…
Every young girl knows the mantra, ‘something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue’ which is a prerequisite for your wedding day. This superstition originated in medieval Europe, when superstitions were at their prime, and having all four items would ward off evil spirits. ‘Something old’ linked back to life before marriage, ‘something new’ represented the new union, ‘something borrowed’ from a wedded couple would provide good luck and ‘something blue’ represented purity and fidelity.
Looking dapper in their wedding suits, groomsmen were originally needed for more than just the Stag Party. In the Middle Ages, when kidnapping women for marriage was fairly common, groomsmen were required to guard and prevent the bride from being stolen by other clans or tribes.
Probably not quite as rigid in modern times, the question of whether you are attending the wedding ‘for bride or groom’ would determine which side of the church you would be seated. This is not to keep families apart to prevent arguments over wedding costs, but rather to symbolise the cutting of the covenant with the united couple in the front. Parents are generally seated upfront, not only because of their input in the wedding but also because, traditionally, they would be responsible for choosing their child’s spouse and, therefore, they would take much of the responsibility for the union as well.
7. The Tossing of Rice
Harking back to pagan times, the tossing of rice over the newly-wed couple encouraged fertility as many children would be needed to work the land. If crops had been abundant that year, then more expensive grains such as wheat would be thrown instead of rice.
8. The Wedding Cake
Certainly, a delicious addition to every wedding day, the wedding cake originated in Rome where they were made from a much less enticing wheat or barley, similar to bread. In an attempt to make the wife fertile she was ceremoniously hit over the head with the cake while wedding guests gathered the pieces for good luck. The bride and groom also feed each other cake, representative of them giving their all to each other once again. The tiered wedding cake, which still remains popular, was reportedly inspired by the iconic tiered spire of St Bride’s Church in Fleet Street, London.
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As with everything symbolic, meanings and interpretations change over time and whether you choose to incorporate these traditions into your wedding or not, it’s always fun to know where it all started.
One of the elements you will need to consider for your wedding, is the wedding venue. Waterkloof Estate hosts many weddings per year and is an awe-inspiring Cape Winelands Wedding Venue to celebrate your dream wedding at. Professionalism, style, elegance and sophistication are all synonymous with Waterkloof Wine Estate.
Contact Waterkloof today for a Winelands wedding venue that dreams are made of.
Photo Courtesy of Yeah Yeah Photography at Waterkloof Wine Estate.