There are a lot of different wedding superstitions all over the world. In every country the wedding preparations, ceremony and feast have all become loaded with ritual practices to ward off evil and bless the marriage with fortune.
In England, for instance, the choice of date is very important. May is traditionally unlucky for weddings. The tradition that the bride’s parents should pay for the wedding dates from two or three centuries ago, when wealthy families would pay an eligible bachelor to take an unmarried daughter off their hands in exchange for a large dowry. At most formal weddings brides still get married in virginal white – many other colours are considered unlucky.
A bride will also ensure that her wedding outfit includes “something old, something new, something borrowed something blue”. “Old” symbolizes her link with the past, “new” maintains the future, “borrowed” gives her a link with the present, and “blue” symbolizes her purity.
There are special names for some of the people in the wedding ceremony. The bridegroom has a male friend with him called the best man; the bride has some female friends called the bridesmaids. Even a modern bride will observe the taboos about wearing her dress before the ceremony. The groom must not see her in until she enters the church. The veil should be put on for the first time as she leaves for the church.
It’s a lucky omen if the bride should see a chimney sweep on her way to church. Sometimes a sweep is paid to attend the ceremony and kiss the bride – a relic of the idea that soot and ashes are symbols of fertility.
The bridegroom arrives at the church first and waits inside near the altar. Just before the wedding ceremony begins, the bride arrives at the church in a car with her father. The bride and her father walk slowly up the aisle of the church, with the bridesmaids. When the bride and the bridegroom are together at the altar the priest begins the wedding service. After the ceremony the couple is showered with confetti. Photographs are taken of the bride and bridegroom and their families and friends.
After the photographs everyone usually goes to a hotel for the wedding reception, which is a special meal and a party to celebrate the wedding, during the meal the bride and bridegroom cut the wedding cake and give it to their guests. At the end of the meal there are special speeches, usually made by the bride’s father the bridegroom and the best man.
Before the reception ends the bride and bridegroom usually drive away to another hotel. The car the couple drives away in often has a sign saying “Just married”. Before she leaves the bride throws her bouquet to her friends to catch. According to custom the woman who catches it will be the next one to get married.