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Wedding Traditions + Where They Came From

From the adorable flower girls with flower crowns, to the bride dressed in white, to the girls standing next to her on the big day. These details of the wedding aren’t mere coincidences, or just simply pieces of the bride’s to-do list. These traditions are filled with meaning & purpose, originating from hundreds of years ago.

Often these wedding traditions are unheard of or simply unknown to us. So, we thought it might be a cute idea to share the meanings behind the familiar pieces that help to create a wedding day. Here are a few of the traditions that are so well-loved, and thought out for weddings today!


The Bridal Party

The Maid of Honor

The maid of honor, or matron of honor if she’s married, was in charge of tending to the bride for the days leading up to her wedding. Whatever the bride needed, the MOH was her go-to woman. Traditionally, the MOH was in charge of taking care of the bride’s dow-purse, which is now seen as the bridal bouquet.

MOH’s today have a few more plans in place for their time as the bride’s right hand woman. Usually they are in charge of planning the bachelorette party, hosting a bridal shower, and helping the bride get into her bridal gown the day of the wedding.

Those Beautiful Bridesmaids

Forget the typical roles of your best ladies, and thank them for warding off all of the evil spirits that come your way, as well as being the ones responsible for your groom making it to the wedding venue. Those similar or identical dresses that your bridesmaids wear are solely to brush the evil away, and to keep the day running smooth by confusing the evil spirits on who’s who and making the bride harder to find.

Brides now have the day to spend with their most beloved friends, usually seen getting pampered with makeup & updos while sipping on some mimosas, or by finishing the final touches on the wedding day decor. We love it! Be sure to check out our faves at Kennedy Blue to find your perfect bridesmaid dresses!

The Flower Girls

Yes, even the little ladies of the wedding day have a significant meaning behind them. The flower girls symbolize the bride passing from the stages of a little girl to the maturity of a woman, hence why they walk down the aisle in front of the bride during the procession of the ceremony. The flower petals thrown are a wish of fertility for the bride and groom, as they begin to grow their family.

Today, they’re just super cute and super sentimental. Most brides choose their little helpers to incorporate more friends or family into the special day. Plus, those little dresses & flower crowns…. can’t get enough of them! So cute!


The Groom’s Best Guys

The Best Man

The best man’s role was to traditionally be the first in line for defense in case the situation was unsafe for the bride. He was typically the physically strongest of the men chosen by the groom, which is where the term, “best man”, comes into play.

Best men as we know them, are usually the groom’s best friend, or brother, or someone of huge importance to the groom. The best man’s duties are to perform a toast at the wedding reception, stand beside the handsome groom on his big day, and be the utmost moral support for any tasks needed to complete for the wedding.

Those Handsome Groomsmen

Also previously known as the bride’s knights, these men are the groom’s front line of defense. They historically would carry a sword during the wedding to protect the bride from any harm that could come her way. They also, would typically stand on the side of the bride in order to protect her, instead of the side of the groom which we see in ceremonies today. At times the groomsmen would even have to defend the bride against her own parents. It was typical of the bride’s parents to not approve of the groom or the marriage.

The groomsmen today are chosen by the groom for moral support. Their duties typically include planning the bachelor party, purchasing their suits, or helping with tasks for the wedding day. The big responsibilities of these guys in the past are no more, thank goodness.

The Adorable Ring Bearers

There isn’t a whole bunch of background info on these cute little guys. For the most part, any child involved in the wedding ceremony was purposely placed into the day to signify fertility in the marriage for the newlyweds. Those pillows that are seen being held by most ring bearers today originate back to the Egyptian times where it was a custom for any precious jewelry to be carried carefully on a beautiful, decadent pillow.

Ceremonies today see a bit of everything. From the traditional pillow, to the little men in suits being swapped for golden retrievers running down the aisle. It’s a wonderful way to incorporate even more of your loved ones into your special day.


The Bride’s Attire

Dressed in White

The white dress that you see all over the map today, wasn’t always the crowd favorite. Not at least until Queen Victoria decided to make her mark & walk to the beat of her own drum by choosing a white dress for her wedding in 1840. In fact, most wedding dresses before Queen Victoria’s fashion statement were often tints of red (meaning “special”) or blue (signifying purity).

Today, the white dress prevails. It triumphs. It stuns & awes. Every now and then a bride decides to pave her own path by wearing a color or style that is a unique twist on the typical modern gown. This local shop carries gowns that are filled with elegant classic taste, and the dresses that meet the needs of the most boho bride.

The Veil

This piece of fabric indicates the bride’s purity and is also known to keep those evil spirits away from the bride-to-be. When the veil is lifted, it signifies the the reveal of the bride for the approval of the groom. He takes her hand in marriage for either love or for property. In the weddings most of us are accustomed to, the veil is simply a statement piece that brings the whole, “I’m a beautiful bride” look together.

In recent years, we’ve seen trends such as flower crowns and jeweled wreaths make their way into the brides attire. We absolutely love the flower crowns that Wisteria Design Studio creates! Nonetheless, a veil will always be simply timeless and a perfect addition to any bride’s wardrobe.

The Garter

Supposedly, this little piece of the puzzle is one of the longest standing wedding traditions, and dates back to nearly 500 AD. The garter was the piece of the bride’s clothing that one lucky wedding guest would be able to take home as a token of good luck.

Today, the bride’s garter serves as a fun reception past-time, or as a “something old, something borrowed, something blue” piece for the bride to treasure on her wedding day.

The Flourishing Bouquet

The floral bouquets weren’t originally meant to simply add to the prettiness of the day. They are the symbol of life, hope, and fertility. The perfect mix for the future of the newlyweds!

Another purpose of theirs was to keep the bride smelling lovely & fresh. Can someone shout an amen?! You summer brides know just how warm a mid-summer wedding can be. Anything that keeps us smelling all things pretty while we enjoy our day is a win.


All of Those Beloved Details

The Wedding Rings

The intricate engagement rings & wedding bands have been a symbolic meaning of matrimony for at least 6,000 years, dating back to the Egyptian times. The wedding ring has been traditionally placed on the left hand, “ring finger”, because that finger supposedly has a vein that runs from your fingertip all the way to your heart. The ring itself has no end. It’s a circle, which never ends, signifying the meaning of eternity.

We love that engagement rings & wedding bands are unique to the person that wears them. Whether they are a romantic rose gold, wonderful white gold, or a unique stone such as an opal, we love to see the style of each bride & groom shown in their forever keepsakes.

The Romantic First Dance

Back in time, the first dance of any event was performed by the guests of honor. In which case, for weddings, are of course the bride & groom. At one point in time, ballroom dancing was a part of a young person’s curriculum. It was considered a trade, and a piece of education that every person should be knowledgeable of. Most brides & grooms would perform a waltz, or other ballroom-styled performance for their first dance to a piece of classical music.

A bride & groom today might jet out to the dance floor to surprise their guests with a choreographed dance to modern day music. Or the couple might just simply sway to the beat of their most beloved song that holds a special meaning to them.

Clink, Clink, Clink

During the reception it’s common to hear the sound of wine glasses being clinked throughout dinner time. This tradition arose out of wedding guests being nervous that an enemy might poison their drink & ruin the evening of the bride and groom. So first, a guest sitting would pour a glass of wine for their neighbor, and then take a drink of the freshly poured glass themselves to ensure that they were not poisoning the other guest. Once they solidified there was no harm to be done, the other guest would clink the glass to signal their drink was safe.

Thankfully, this isn’t the case today (or at least we hope not). The clinking of glasses has turned into an appreciation for the bride & groom, and signals them to kiss. Some couples decide they don’t want to be the only ones in the spotlight, so they opt for an alternative.

Piece of Cake

The icing on top of a perfect day. The wedding cake has been around for centuries, with a variety of differences in cultures, but nevertheless a main attraction of the wedding day. Traditionally, the cake was eaten first by the groom, and then the crumbs of his piece were scattered over the bride’s head to insure a fertile life filled with children and prosperity. The tradition of the bride & groom cutting the first piece together, was a symbol of togetherness & unity.

The wedding cake has since evolved into a variety of different forms. Some couples have a sweet treats table consisting of bowls filled to the brim with all kinds of candied goods. While other couples might opt for a donut cake after their brunch-styled menu. We love & appreciate that the tradition of the bride & groom cutting the first piece of cake has hung on after all of these years. Such a sweet little moment for the newlyweds to share!


The sought after post-wedding, stress free vacations for the newlyweds that we know today, weren’t the original purpose of the honeymoon. The original intention was for the the bride & groom to travel to friends & family that were unable to attend the wedding and to spend time with those loved ones. So more than likely, an all-inclusive vacation was off the list for most newlyweds. However, the tradition eventually evolved to the newlyweds sharing a drink of a honey-based alcohol, that was supposedly intended to help with the conception of a baby. The drink was to be shared on the first moon of the married couple, so basically the wedding night.

Honeymoons today have become an experience for the bride & groom to enjoy time together after the stress of the wedding. The trips range from being a road trip across the U.S, a flight to an all-inclusive destination, or sometimes they end up being a little bit offbeat. Thankfully, most of the time you & the love of your life are able to experience a wonderful trip with only the company of each other. What an amazing way to cap off the excitement of the big day!

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photography // Tonya Hjort Photography

photography // Steanna Anne Photography

photography // Justine Montigny

photography // Perry James Photography

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