Thursday, September 11, 2008

Traditions & Superstitions-The Bride's Attire

This edition of Traditions and Superstitions is based on the Bride's Attire. Why we wear what we do.

Brides were always thought of being vulnerable to evil spirits. Many of our wedding customs and traditions originated as an attempt to fight them away.

The Dress

  • Ann of Brittany started the tradition of the white wedding dress in 1499 when she married King Louis XII of France. And so it begins.
  • Queen Victoria wore a white dress at her wedding in 1840. Royals usually wore silver to their weddings. She's the reason we do it today.
  • The tradition of virgins wearing white began with the Romans. They would wear white to celebrations.
  • Royal British brides sew a silver horseshoe into the hem of their gowns.
  • Until the 1800's women wore their best dress, usually red or yellow.
  • During biblical times, bridal dresses were usually blue since it symbolized purity.
  • Beginning in early Roman times, white symbolized a joyful celebration.
  • Since the Middle Ages, the length of the train equaled your rank in court. The longer the train, the higher your favor was with the King & Queen. Remember Princess Diana's?
  • During the twentieth century white stood for purity. Today it just means happiness.
  • If you look in the mirror right before you leave to the ceremony it will bring you good luck. But, if you look in one again before your ceremony your luck will tarnish to bad.
  • It is bad luck to make your own wedding dress.
  • You also shouldn't wear all of your ensemble before your wedding day. Some women leave a stitch undone till their wedding day.
  • The English believe a spider found in a wedding dress means good luck.
  • Here is a Victorian Poem about the color of the dress~
    Married in White, you have chosen right
    Married in Grey, you will go far away,
    Married in Black, you will wish yourself back,
    Married in Red, you will wish yourself dead,
    Married in Green, ashamed to be seen,
    Married in Blue, you will always be true,
    Married in Pearl, you will live in a whirl,
    Married in Yellow, ashamed of your fellow,
    Married in Brown, you will live in the town,
    Married in Pink, you spirit will sink

The Veil

  • The veil was worn with the belief that it would disguise the bride and fool the evil spirits.
  • Early Greek and Roman brides wore either yellow or red veils.
  • Early Christian brides wore white or purple.
  • The veil originally symbolized the bride's virginity, innocence, and modesty.
  • Historically, the bridal veil relates to the head coverings worn by unmarried and married women in different cultures as a sign of modesty and female subservience.
  • The veil as a symbol of purity, is from the Judaic tradition when Rebbecca wore a veil to cover her face when she met Issac on their wedding day.
  • In the bible, Leah tricked Jacob into marrying her instead of his beloved Rachael by wearing a heavy veil and concealing her face.
  • The reason we wear veils here in the United States is because of Nelly Curtis. She was standing behind a sheer curtain when her fiance, Major Lawrence Lewis, an aide of George Washington, told her how beautiful she looked. So of course, she decided to wear one on their wedding day.
  • The lifting of the veil at the end of the ceremony symbolizes male dominance. If a bride lifts her veil first, presenting herself to him, she is showing her independence.


  • The earliest brides topped their heads with floral and herbal wreaths.
  • Queen Victoria wore a crown of orange blossoms and myrtle, instead of a tiara.
  • The earliest tiaras are from ancient Egypt. They used them to decorate the heads of royal mummies.
  • In Greece, goldsmiths created tiaras to adorn the heads of statues of their Gods and priests. They also awarded tiaras to contest champions. Remember the Athens Olympics.
  • Highly ranked individuals wore them during social functions and special occasions in Ancient Greece and Rome.
  • Inspired by ancient Rome, women of the court in the 1700's used tiara designs that were simple and symmetrical. These tiaras were usually decorated with laurel and olive leaves.
  • English jewelers were designing finer, sought after tiaras early in the 19th Century. That's when brides started wearing them to their weddings. It was the birth of the wedding tiara.
  • In the middle of the 19th century all across Europe, court life flourished and magnificent jewelry tiaras became all the rage.
  • In the early 1900, more tiaras were worn than ever before.


  • Are symbols of modesty and romance.
  • Without the 'g', they are 'a pair of loves'.
  • Princesses almost always wear them.
  • Tuck a sugar cube into your glove and the sugar will sweeten your union.
  • During the 18th and 19th centuries, gloves were the traditional wedding favor for all guests.
  • Up until the 1960's, all well-mannered ladies wore them, even during the day.
  • Formal etiquette still says that a bride should wear gloves as a symbol of grace.

The Handkerchief

  • The wedding handkerchief is usually passed down from mother to daughter and from generation to generation.
  • Early farmers thought a bride's wedding day tears were lucky and that they would bring rain for their crops.
  • It is thought that a crying bride meant that she would never shed another tear about her marriage.
  • We now use a handkerchief to dab away our tears of happiness and joy.

The Garter

  • It's how most bride's achieve their something blue.
  • Brides wore a blue ribbon to signify "fidelity" in ancient Israel.

The Somethings are actually from a Victorian rhyme.

  • Something Old-something passed down through the bride's family. A symbol of continuity.
  • Something New-is for good luck in the bride's new life and new family.
  • Something Borrowed-should be on 'loan' from a happily married woman, that way her luck 'rubs' of on the bride.
  • Something Blue-represents faithfulness, purity, hope and love.
  • Silver Sixpence in your Shoe-it should be in the bride's left shoe for wealth and happiness in her marriage. Not only financial wealth but a wealth of happiness and joy throughout her married life.


  • There's a Turkey custom that has all of the bridesmaid's sign the bottom of the bride's shoe and whichever name wears off first will be the next to wed and gets to keep the shoes.
  • Modern Traditions-I am loving the colorful shoe. Brides are now adding splashes of color to their gowns if not forgoing the white gown altogether. I love having your something blue not being a garter, but maybe shoes, toe nail polish, or what I did, a heart toe ring with blue stones.
Happy Reading,

The photo is of me.


Amy-jo tatum/bridechic said...

Thanks for posting this info. You did a lot of work on it . .

Steph said...

Thank you.