There are several traditions that people will say have to be included in the ceremony. In reality, it is up to you which ones you choose to acknowledge; after all, it is your day. Here are few traditions that are important to have as part of you ceremony.
Probably the oldest, most universal and most important tradition is the exchanging of the rings. The ring is a circle which is a symbol of perfection and never ending love. People have been exchanging rings since ancient Egyptian times, maybe even before that. The wedding ring is worn on the third finger on the left hand. There are two possible origins to this particular part of the tradition. Ancient Egyptians believed that the “vein of love” ran from the ring finger on your left hand directly to your heart. A ring was placed on this finger to indicate eternal love. In the 17th century, the ring was placed on this finger for religious reasons. During the ceremony, the groom would slide the ring part way up the bride’s thumb, index finger and middle finger while the priest said, “In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.” The next available finger is the third finger, which is where the the ring is placed when the priest says, “Amen.” The ring was said to have been blessed and be an outward sign of the unity between man, wife and God.
The tradition of giving the bride away is quite literally that. The marriage would be arranged by the bride’s parents and she would be given to her groom for monetary gain. It does not mean quite the same thing today, however. The bride is still given away, usually by her father, but now it symbolizes her parents’ blessing and support of her union. It is seen as a promise of continued trust and support as she starts this new part of her life.
The bridal bouquet is another must have tradition. Each flower means a different thing. In ancient marriages, the bride would wear herbs under her veil as a sign of fidelity. In Greek weddings, the bride usually carried ivy as a symbol of never ending love. Spaniards would wear orange blossoms to represent happiness and fulfillment. Today, however, flowers are usually chosen based on the wedding colors to bring beauty to the wedding ceremony.
The ceremony kiss is another major tradition. This kiss concludes the marriage ceremony. It is to represent the sharing and joining of the bride and groom’s souls. In ancient roman times, the kiss sealed the agreement between the two families to join in a lifelong commitment.
A final tradition is throwing rice. This can be done either at the wedding ceremony as the couple leaves the church or it can be done after the reception. Rice, in particular, is considered a life giving seed. By throwing it on a couple, the couple is bestowed with fertility. Many churches now will not let you throw rice because of the mess and the potential harm to birds. If that is the case, you might consider bubbles instead. It will have the same message, but is easier to clean up.