Wedding Customs & Omens
Fun & Silly Folklore
The Wedding Day-
The bride will have good luck if she dreams on her wedding day.
It is good luck for the bride to throw away bread as a symbol of throwing away her troubles. Even better, for every piece given to the poor on the way to the wedding, a misfortune will be averted.
It is good luck to see a rainbow or a black cat, or a sneezing cat, on your wedding day.
It is good luck for the bride to receive a kiss from a chimney sweep, as he has magical associations with the family. The hearth of the fire symbolizes the heart of the family.
It is bad luck for the bride to drop her handkerchief while entering or exiting the carriage.
(A good reason not to use one!)
It is bad luck seeing a pig, hare, or lizard running across the road on your wedding day.
It is bad luck spotting an open grave on the way to your wedding.
Some say to make sure the road is clear of monks or nuns too; they foretell barrenness and a life dependent on charity.
If the bride or groom see a cross laying on the ground before or after they are married, they will have a cross to bear, but seeing a hanging cross will bless the marriage.
It is bad luck to give the bride a telegram on her way to the ceremony.
(Unless she's won the lottery!)
It is bad luck for the bride to eat anything while getting ready for the ceremony and until after the ceremony is over. (Did Weight Watchers add that in?)
It is bad luck for the groom to see the bride in her wedding attire before the ceremony.
It is bad luck for the bride to see herself in a mirror completely dressed before the wedding. The old belief says part of yourself goes into the reflection and therefore the bride would not be giving all of herself to her new husband.To get around this, the bride may dress in front of a mirror, but should have a ribbon, flower, pin or other jewelry that is put on just before walking down the aisle without seeing her reflection.
It is said that it is good luck for a bride to cry on her wedding day. All sorrows are washed away leaving room for only happiness.
Going Down the Aisle
The bride is supposed to wear
And a sixpence in the shoe.
The something old should belong to a happily married woman
to insure happiness.
However, not a handkerchief that was used in her wedding.
That is considered bad luck! (and kind of disgusting!)
The something new is a piece of apparel.
The something borrowed was traditionally a gold object to
insure fortune and wealth.
The something blue symbolizes the heavens and true love.
The sixpence, or a new penny in the USA, insures prosperity.
Orange blossoms are lucky in the bouquet or décor.
It is good luck for the bride to carry her mother's prayer book.
Placing a bit of salt in a shoe, pocket or glove will bring the bride luck for several reasons. The Greeks believed salt symbolized loyalty and lasting friendship. Also, devils and witches supposedly hate salt so it keeps them away. (Consider not putting it in your shoe. It sounds a bit uncomfortable)
Bouquets were once combinations of stalks of wheat, corn stalks and leaves to symbolize a fruitful crop. Through the years they have also been made of carefully chosen herbs that were believed to keep away the witches and demons. (Are you ready for your bouquet of chives, rosemary, bay leaves and garlic?...We prefer Swarovski crystals!)
The bridegroom should wear a lucky horseshoe in his pocket (Or a replica!), and if the bride wears one, it is a symbol of fertility.
Some believe it is bad luck for the bride to walk down the aisle during the rehearsal. The one and only time she should walk down the aisle is on her wedding day.
Someone else should stand in for her.
The Wedding Rings-
The circle of the ring, without beginning or end, symbolizes eternal love.
As the wedding ring wears,
So wear away life's cares.
In early Rome, through to the Renaissance, only the wealthy wore rings. The one exception was the wedding band.
In the Anglo-Saxon north, rings were among the gifts given to the bride before the wedding. The word "wed" is from the Anglo-Saxon word for "pledge".
Some believe it is unlucky to remove a wedding ring for one year, others believe seven years. There are still others who believe that it should never be removed. Another belief is that it is good luck to slip the ring off and then on your finger before leaving the church so that you will not have bad luck later if you need to remove it.
To avoid bad luck, the bride should always use her right foot first
when stepping in and out of the church, and when approaching and
leaving the altar. She should also make sure that her right foot is
placed ahead of the groom's at the altar to insure her future influence
It is considered good luck if your veil is accidentally torn at the altar.
(Or is that just said so that the bride won't freak out on the altar?)
If there are cracks or lines on the floor, the couple must stand parallel
to them, not across them, or they will have a cross life. (As if you
don't have enough to think about on your wedding day!)
It is bad luck for the ring to be dropped before it is placed on the
bride's finger or for the bride to try it on before the ceremony.
The master of the household will be the one who sees the other first
at the service (sounds rigged for the groom!) and the one who has
their thumb on top when their hands are joined. Or the first one to drink a glass of water after the ceremony is also thought to be the boss!
Giving the clergy person an odd amount of money will bring luck.
In the past loud noises were said to chase away evil spirits, and during the ceremony, the guests would make noises to keep the spirits away. Today it is traditional for the bridal party to honk their car horns when leaving the ceremony.
If the youngest of the daughters is the first to marry, and the older ones want husbands, they have to either dance barefoot at the wedding or in green stockings. If they want to be insured of their luck, they must dance in a hog's or pig's trough! (How humiliating!)
The tradition of garters being taken off the bride began in England. They were considered to be trophies by the young men. Immediately after the ceremony they would literally assault the bride at the altar, often throwing her down to the floor, to win the garter. To prevent this indecent display, brides began to place the garter in their cleavage and hand it over.
When the bride throws her bouquet, the bridesmaid who catches it will be the first to marry. It is bad luck for the bride if it lands on the floor.
It is bad luck to give away a wedding present.
White has been a symbol of innocence, virginity and purity as far back as the Greek civilizations and was thought to ward off evil spirits. In Rome, the bridal gown was known as a "tunica recta", which was a plain white woolen dress woven by the virtuous Roman bride herself as a proof of her domestic abilities. The sash of the dress was tied in a complex "Herculean" knot to give the groom a challenge later on. The Roman wedding gown was worn with a yellow flame-colored veil known as the "flammeum".
White was not popularized for weddings until the late eighteenth century when it became the standard wedding color.. Because it could not be cleaned and could only be worn once, white was a color reserved for the wealthy and very special occasions. Before the late eighteenth century women generally wore their best dress for their wedding. White was first popularized by Anne of Brittany in 1499 and later by Queen Victoria in the 1800's. In England and France, white was a visual statement of a bride's virginity-so obvious and public a statement that it did not please everyone. Clergymen, for instance, felt that virginity, a marriage prerequisite, should not have to be blatantly advertised.
Red is a traditional color for Chinese brides and was worn by American brides during the Revolutionary war as a sign of rebellion. In India the wedding dress is traditionally red, for good luck.
Green was the traditional bridal color in Norway but is generally thought to be unlucky. The green gown implied a bride of loose morals; her dress became green by rolling around in the grass. Green is also negatively associated with envy and fairies.
In biblical times blue, the color of the heavens, not white, was considered to represent purity and fidelity. Over time this evolved from wearing blue clothing to the bride and groom wearing a blue band around the bottom of their wedding attire and to modern times where the bride wears a blue or a blue trimmed garter.
Black Velvet gowns were traditional in Iceland but, since black implies a sad occasion, it is generally frowned upon for a bridal gown.
Not the case today, but in Ireland, it was once considered very bad luck for the bride's dress to be white or green. The color of choice is blue. Their reasoning...The little people like white and green and will steal the bride away if she dares wear those colors on her big day.
Married in blue, love ever true,
Married in white, you've chosen right,
Married in red, you'll wish yourself dead,
Married in black, you'll wish yourself back,
Married in gray, you'll go far away,
Married in brown, you'll live out of town,
Married in green, ashamed to be seen,
Married in pink, of you only he'll think,
Married in pearl, you'll live in a whirl,
Married in yellow, jealous of your fellow.
A widow may wear black if she wears a rose in her hair
but if it falls out, her second husband will leave or die.
If a bride wears red, she and her husband will fight before
their first anniversary, or he may die soon.
It is bad luck to make your own wedding gown, to tear it or spill wine on it. (Duh!)
A bride must have her hair styled and her headpiece and veil put on only by a happily married woman.
It is bad luck for the bride to show her headpiece and veil to anyone except her family before the wedding.
Unless the bride approves, it is bad etiquette for anyone besides the bride to wear white.
Most cultures cherish pearls on the wedding day as a symbol of wealth and purity, but according to Mexican traditions each pearl worn symbolizes the tears the bride will cry in her marriage.
Change the name and not the letter,
Change for worse and not for better
It is bad luck if the groom's last name starts with the same last name as the bride.
Some believe that it is bad luck to marry someone born in the same month as you.
The Mother-in-Law -
The bride will have mother-in-law troubles if she breaks something on her wedding day.
The mother-in-law test of the bride's housewife rating is to place a broom on the floor. If the bride moves the broom to the side, she will be a good housewife: if she steps over it, she will not be.
Month to Marry-
Married in the month of June
Life will be a honeymoon
As far back as Roman times it was believed that marrying in June would bring prosperity for the groom and happiness for the bride. Juno, the wife of Jupiter, was the goddess of marriage and the patroness of youth who was celebrated at this time of the year.
Marry when the year is new,
Always loving, kind, and true,
When February birds do mate,
You may wed nor dread the fate.
If you wed when March winds blow,
Joy and sorrow both you'll know.
Marry in April when you can,
Joy for maiden and for man.
Marry in the month of May*,
You will surely rue the day.
Marry when June roses blow,
Over land and sea you'll go.
Those who in July do wed,
Must labor always for their bread.
Whoever wed in August be,
Many a change are sure to see.
Marry in September's shrine,
Your living will be rich and fine.
If in October you will marry,
Love will come but riches tarry.
If you wed in bleak November,
Only joy will come, remember.
When December's snows fall fast,
Marry and true love will last.
*In Roman times the month of May, named for Maia, goddess of growth and patroness of the elderly, was a time to honor the unhappily deceased.
Day to Marry and the Weather-
Wed on Monday, always poor,
Wed on Tuesday, wed once more,
Wed on Wednesday, happy match,
Wed on Thursday, splendid catch,
Wed on Friday, poorly mated,
Wed on Saturday, better waited.
(What happened to Sunday?)
There are thoses who think that bad weather on your wedding day is a sign of a stormy marriage but in some cultures rain is considered to be a good omen and means that you will have many children. Snow means fertility and wealth.
In Ireland, a statue called "A Child of Prague" is left under a hedge to bring good weather on the wedding day. A child of Prague with money underneath is meant to bring prosperity.
Rain on your wedding day is also said to symbolize the tears of all of your ex-boyfriends.
(We love this one...keep that rain coming!)
Time to Marry-
Marry between the growing moon and the full moon because the rising moon will follow your fortune. Marry in the time between the full moon and diminishing moon and your fortune will fall with the moon's size.
Marry between the half hour and the hour because the rising hands of the clock will follow your fortune. Marry between the hour and half hour, your fortune will fall with the clock's hands.
Similarly, marry between the rising and the high tide.
The Honeymoon and on-
The honeymoon got its name from the Anglo-Saxon tradition of drinking mead, a sweet honey wine, for the first month of marriage.
Throwing an old shoe will bring the newlyweds luck. The tradition dates back to Anglo-Saxon marriages when the father of the bride gave the groom a shoe taken from the bride's foot to symbolize that he was turning over his authority and ownership of the girl to her new husband.
It is bad luck for the honeymoon if the bride's former sweetheart is not happy for her and then kisses her on her wedding day.
All pins holding the brides apparel together must be discarded. If the bride keeps any, she will have bad luck. If a bridesmaid keeps one, she will be unmarried for at least a year. (This dates way back to when dresses were pinned on.)
When the bride removes her wedding attire a stocking should be thrown over her left shoulder. If it lands straight she will have continuous luck. If it lands bunched her luck will be variable.
The bride should take something borrowed with her on her honeymoon for luck.
It is bad luck to spend your first night of marriage in your permanent residence.
The first person to go to sleep on the wedding night will be the first to die.
Sleeping with your heads facing north on the wedding night will guarantee happiness.
It is bad luck for the bride to put her feet on the bare floor on her wedding night.
A pound of Limburger cheese, placed between two towels and under the pillows of the newlyweds on their wedding night, will bring good fortune and lots of children.
The Romans believed that her husband should carry his bride over the threshold of her new home to protect her from the dangers of envious witchcraft. For a bride to stumble over the threshold would be a prophecy of an unhappy married life.
White Dove & Butterfly Releases-
Doves choose one partner for life and make this commitment until death. The white dove has been used throughout history as a symbol of Love, Peace, Purity, Faithfulness and Prosperity. It is said that if doves are seen on your wedding day, a happy home is assured.
According to an American Indian Legend - If anyone desires a wish to come true they must first capture a butterfly and whisper that wish to it. Since a butterfly can make no sound, the butterfly can not reveal the wish to anyone but the Great Spirit who hears and sees all. In gratitude for giving the beautiful butterfly its freedom, the Great Spirit always grants the wish. So, according to legend, by making a wish and giving the butterfly its freedom, the wish will be taken to the heavens and be granted. We have gathered to grant this couple all our best wishes and are about to set these butterflies free in trust that all these wishes will be granted.
We have few wonderful butterfly headpieces to help with this theme:
Pets & Other Creatures-
If you feed a cat an old shoe, your wedding day will be a happy one.
It is good luck for a cat to sneeze in front of a bride on her wedding day.
It's bad luck to have a grey horse at your wedding or to have a bat fly through during the ceremony.
It is good luck to see a lamb, dove or flock of white birds on the way to church, but bad luck if a pig or flock of black birds should cross the path of your carriage. In England it is good luck to see a wolf, toad, or spider and bad luck to see a cat, dog, rabbit, or lizard.
If a flock of birds flies directly over the wedding carriage, the bride will have many children. (And maybe a bit of a mess if she's unlucky!)
Finding a spider crawling on your wedding gown is considered good luck. (Yuck!)
International Customs- (submitted by our visitors)
In some Middle Eastern Islamic countries, the bride must be a virgin. At the wedding party on the wedding night, the groom and bride leave the ceremony to consummate the marriage. The mother of the bride must stand outside the door of the bedroom to wait for the groom to hand her a blood stained sheet to verify the bride's virginity had not been violated. If the blood is not present, the groom has the right to annul the marriage.
In Germany, the family makes three memory books: one of the bride, one of the groom and one of the couple together. Friends and family send pictures before the wedding or bring pictures to the wedding and add stories to each of the books. The books are then given to the bride and groom as a gift.
In Indian, in the Sikh and Punjabi cultures, games are traditionally played with the groom for money. The sister of the bride hides the shoes of the groom until he pays her. Later when the groom is entering the church, the sister of the bride blocks the groom's entry with a ribbon, and in order for the groom and his family to enter, he needs to pay. He is then
given scissors to cut the ribbon and walk into the ceremony.
In Mexico it is a custom to put a safety pin in the bride's panties on her wedding night to ward off evil spirits and give her a healthy baby.
In Ireland it is custom for the bride and groom to be buried in the positions that they stood on the altar with the bride on the left and the groom on right. If the husband is widowed and marries again he will still be buried with his first wife.
Did you know that the word "bridal" comes from "bride-ale"? It was proper for the bride's family to sell ale that was especially made for the wedding. It helped pay for the expenses and added to the fun!
Did you know that many of our wedding customs date back to Roman times? The purpose of marriage was to create a family and to produce legitimate children. The word "matrimonium" is derived from "mater", or "mother." Marriage was seen as a stabilizing influence on society. The emperor Augustus went so far as to impose penalties for men who remained unmarried too long. The central act of the Roman wedding, which sealed the marriage, was the sharing of a cake made of "far", which was a form of wheat.
Do you have any folklore that we have missed?
We would love to hear from you and we'll add it in!
Sorry, we don't have answers to questions about customs & omens not mentioned above.