The Surprising History Behind The Most Popular Wedding Traditions

Illustration: Seung Chun
If you’ve ever been to a wedding or even just watched a rom-com, you’ve probably heard the phrase “something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue.” That well-known saying is just the tip of the iceberg of wedding traditions and superstitions. If you’ve ever been to a wedding, you probably didn't think twice about the spouses-to-be taking care to avoid seeing each other until they walked down the aisle, for example.
But imagine that you’re an alien visiting Earth for the first time. You’d probably be baffled by wedding traditions, because they’re so unlike humans' day-to-day lives. In what other situation would a person’s close friends all wear the same dress? And why would you throw a bouquet of flowers at your single guests — don't they have it hard enough? Wedding bouquets are heavy, you know!
The meanings of wedding traditions have changed over time — so even if your favourite tradition has a surprisingly dark history, it can represent something different to you today. On the other hand, if a certain tradition creeps you out, you don’t have to participate. When it comes to getting married, the only requirement is signing the marriage license — and with non-legally-binding weddings on the rise among celebrities, that’s becoming optional, too.

More from Sex & Relationships

R29 Original Series