The Bride's Bouquet originates in Holland. The groom would go into the fields the morning of the wedding and pick flowers for his intended. The Bride would carry her gathered blossoms down the aisle.
The ring dates back to when cavemen braided grass circles around the bride's wrist and ankles to keep her spirit from escaping. Diamond engagement rings first appeared in Italy when precious stones were considered partial payment for the bride and as a symbol of the groom's good intentions. The rings are worn on the third finger of the left hand because it was believed its vein led directly to the heart.
The best man and ushers were strong friends who helped capture the bride. Grooms often had to fight off over protective brothers because she wanted to be kidnapped, but to go willingly was considered un-maidenly.
The veil obviously began as a sign of modesty. The custom continues in our times because of its romantic aura.
14th Century wedding guests in France tried to remove the bride's garter thinking it brought luck. Modest brides began removing them to toss to the eager crowd. Soon this custom evolved into the bridal bouquet toss to foretell who the next bride to be.
The legend says a Dutch father opposed his daughter's marriage and refused her dowry. Her friends showered her with gifts to help her set up housekeeping.
Giving Away the Bride
This began in the days when daughters were chattel. Now, fathers (and sometimes mothers) escort the bride down the aisle to show pride and approval.
Originally, the bride brought clothes and other articles wrapped in a bundle (French - "trousseau")
Beginning in Rome, a thin loaf of bread was broken over the bride's head to insure a life of plenty. The guests ate the crumbs for good luck. By the Middle Ages, English brides kissed their grooms over a mound of small cakes. A baker put the cakes together, covered with icing.
Throwing rice started in the Orient as a wish for many children. Today's environmentally conscious brides and grooms are throwing birdseed as it is believed that uncooked rice is harmful to birds that picked up the pieces.
They used to be thrown at the bride by her father to show her he was giving her to the groom. The shoe was a symbol of possession and authority. Another story indicates they were thrown at the groom as he kidnapped the bride.
Carrying the Bride Across the Threshold
Two versions - in roman times she was supposed to be reluctant. Others believed that evil spirits haunted the threshold and the bride was carried over to protect her.
Originated with ancient Teutons. Couples married during a full moon and drank honey wine for 30 days.