All the things you didn't - but should - know about weddings…
Ever heard the term "June bride"? It refers to the fact more people get married in June than any other month. Contrary to popular belief, this tradition did NOT come about because of the dependable weather. Actually, there are a number of interesting reasons J-U-N-E spells "marriage."
For instance, some classical scholars believe the month of June is actually named after Juno, the Roman goddess of marriage. Fast-forward a few centuries and you'll find another compelling reason to book your banquet hall of choice for June: according to one old wives' tale, "Marry in the month of May, and you'll surely rue the day. Marry when June roses grow, over land and sea you'll go."
Not many people, however, are aware of these interesting tidbits. Most couples marry in June because it's common practice. But that's the problem with weddings, isn't it? Too many people subscribe to tradition without knowing why. Couples deserve more than your average, run-of-the-mill McWedding (not to mention the guests, who, having been to cookie-cutter wedding after cookie-cutter wedding, would truly appreciate bearing witness to a more scintillating show).
The more you know about wedding customs, the easier it is to pick and choose the ones that mean most to you and create your own unique ceremony. Likewise, the more you know, the more amused you'll be sitting through each of your girlfriends' ceremonies.
Bridesmaids' dresses: they're not just evil looking, they're evil-repellent. The reason bridesmaids all dress the same is actually because, in ancient Rome, several of the 10 witnesses required to make a wedding legal would dress identically to the bride and groom to confuse any evil spirits that might crash the ceremony. (Unfortunately, this doesn't explain why bridesmaids' dresses are so ugly…)
Blame Greece (the civilization - not the film starring John Travolta) for the reason North Americans put their wedding rings on the third finger of their left hands. Ancient Greeks believed a vein in this finger ran directly to the heart.
And guys, if your wallet's hurting after having to buy your fiancée an engagement ring and a wedding band, you can blame Pope Innocent III. In the 13th century, Innocent instituted a waiting period between engagement and marriage, and insisted a ring be used in the wedding ceremony. Before that, rings were only used to seal an engagement (as well as other important agreements).
Sealed With a Kiss
In ancient Rome, a kiss - considered legally binding - was used to seal a contract. And later on, a bride marrying in the Church of England had to plant one on the minister before she could smooch her groom! I don't know about you, but I'd personally love to go to a wedding where the minister said, "Now I may kiss the bride."
When we drink to someone, we call it a "toast" because of an old French custom where a piece of bread was placed at the bottom of the wine cup for flavour. In France, partygoers would drink and pass the cup; when it reached the person being toasted, he would drain it - crouton and all. A crunchy cosmopolitan? I'll drink to that!
Many things are thrown through the air at weddings: rice (for fertility), bouquets (for luck and protection) and, last but not least, garters (also for luck). In the good old days, before wedding dresses cost as much as small cars, people used to rip chunks of the bride's dress off for good luck.
A slightly related custom used to occur in long-ago England. The groom's friends would take off their socks and throw them; the first to hit the groom's nose would be the next to marry.
Left at the Altar
In Christian ceremonies, the bride stands on the left and the groom on the right. Where did this custom originate? You see, weddings used to be a lot more like the ones you watch on the soaps - with dastardly ex-suitors and other thugs often rushing the altar. Of course, some wedding crashers were heroes, trying to rescue a captured bride. Whatever the reason for the interference, the groom needed to keep his right hand free so he could grab his sword, thus the bride stood clear and to the left. I wonder what happened when the groom was left-handed? ¤ Noa