Traditional Wedding Phrases and Their Meanings

Most brides today would never even dream of taking their walk down the aisle without the traditional “something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue” included in the bridal wardrobe.  The “old” refers to the bride’s ties to her past, especially her childhood and family life.  The “new” is a symbol of hope for her new life with her new husband.  The “borrowed” represents her current friendships and the “blue” symbolizes faithfulness.

In early times, this familiar expression included an additional line, “and a lucky six pence in her shoe,” and every English bride had one there.  It represented good fortune in the future for the newlywed couple.  Today, some brides choose to place a shiny, new penny in one of their shoes to symbolize that sentiment.

“Tie the knot” is another saying used quite frequently when referring to an upcoming marriage.  According to an ancient Chinese legend, the gods tie an invisible red string around the ankles of a boy and girl who are destined to be united someday as husband and wife; red symbolizes love.  As the years pass, the red string, which can never be untied, becomes shorter and shorter until the couple finally meets and weds.

Originally, veils were meant to represent a virgin bride’s innocence.  Society, today, considers the bridal veil an essential wedding custom.  Nelly Curtis, George Washington’s adopted daughter, is thought to be the first bride to wear a veil made of lace.  When she was first introduced to her love (an aide to Washington), she was standing behind a lace curtain.  In order to duplicate this moment at the ceremony, Nelly made her own veil from white lace.

The custom of “giving away the bride” goes back to the time when a daughter was considered the be a possession of her father.  Part of the wedding ritual was the formal transfer of “ownership” from the father to the groom.  Now, the custom (thankfully) simply signifies the parents’ blessings on the marriage.  Some brides choose to have both their mother and father walk them down the aisle as a symbol of love and support; however, most still prefer to be “given away” by their father.

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