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Wedding Traditions and Superstitions Explained

You’re engaged – firstly congratulations! Being engaged is one of the most exciting stages of a couple’s life. When the excitement of sharing the news of your engagement begins to settle down a little, it’s time to start planning all the bits that come together to create your dream wedding like choosing your wedding décor, selecting your wedding flowers and finding the perfect wedding dress.

When you start to plan your wedding, you learn pretty quickly that the day is full of little traditions and symbolic links with our past. Some of them, like for example, wearing a white wedding dress, are a central part of many couples’ wedding day. But most of us pick and choose or adapt these old customs to better suit our modern lives. So which wedding traditions have stood the test of time?

From the thoughtful to the weird and wacky, we’ve gone into detail about some of the most popular wedding traditions and superstitions, and their origins.

1.       Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue and a sixpence in your shoe

A popular Victorian rhyme that dates back to 19th century Lancashire says that every bride should wear “something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue and a silver sixpence in your shoe.” You may have heard of this rhyme and for centuries, brides have included something from each of these categories in their weddings. It can be a meaningful way to incorporate cherished people, objects and memories into your special day.

While “something old” refers to the brides past and connections with her family, “something new” symbolises her new life with her groom. To have “something borrowed” on your wedding day means that the bride should have the good luck of a happily married friend or family member by wearing a piece of jewellery or some other accessory. “Something blue” symbolises love and fidelity and brides often choose to incorporate this colour into their outfit to lean to the tradition. A “silver sixpence in her shoe” represents luck and prosperity in marriage, traditionally given to the bride on her wedding day by her father.

2.       White wedding dress

Centuries ago, it was far more common for women to choose other colours over white to wear for their wedding dress. The now popular tradition to wear a white wedding dress was actually started by Queen Victoria in 1840 when she wore a white gown to marry Prince Albert. Before this, white was an uncommon choice of gown colour due to its impracticality and cost.

Another reason why some brides choose to wear a white dress is that in many societies the colour white has long been associated with purity and virtue. An old rhyme says if you marry in white “you’ve chosen right” while marrying in red means “you’ll wish yourself dead”. Other colours have different associations, for example, yellow and green are associated with humiliation and shame, while pink and blue are considered desirable.

3.       Wedding veils

Veils have been part of the bride’s traditional attire for centuries. Beyond their aesthetic appeal, veils symbolise purity, modesty and the transition from maidenhood to wifehood. However, across cultures veils have diverse meanings, for ancient Greeks and Romans, the veil was for function rather than fashion. They believed that wearing a veil down the aisle would disguise the bride from evil spirits that were jealous of her happiness and to avoid any ill will they wished to bring upon her.

4.       Bouquet toss

The bouquet toss is one of the most iconic and often humorous traditions of modern weddings that dates back to the 1300s in England. As the ritual goes, the bride tosses her wedding bouquet to a group of unmarried women during the wedding reception and whoever catches it is said to be the next to be wed. Bouquet tossing is believed to be symbolic of fertility and good luck. Today, this is still seen as a fun and light-hearted way to celebrate the end of a wedding ceremony.

5.       Horseshoe

A lucky horseshoe is a meaningful gift and ancient symbol of good luck. For Christians the meaning behind the horseshoes comes from St Dunstan. He trapped the Devil inside a horseshoe and said he would only release him if the Devil swore an oath to never cross the threshold of a Christian home that was protected by a horseshoe hung above the door. Consequently, a horseshoe wedding gift was often given to couples on their wedding day to take home and protect them.

6.       Raining on your wedding day

Couples often hope for clear skies on their wedding day and stress over weather forecasts leading up to their special day, but according to several cultures rain on your wedding day is good luck. Mother nature can be pretty unpredictable here in the UK, so instead of looking at the negatives we like the idea of looking for the positives of it raining on your wedding day.

Rain on your wedding day represents many things in different cultures – most of which include fertility, cleansing, unity, renewal and tears. Among these beliefs, rain on your wedding day signifies that you will have children, the cleansing of sadness in your past, that your marriage will last and the beginning of a new chapter. It also symbolises the last tears the bride will shed for the rest of her life.

7.       Getting married on a weekday

While Saturdays have long been the most popular day to get married for decades, an ancient Celtic poem claims couples should avoid weekend weddings at all costs, that is, if you want luck on your side. It reads: “Monday for wealth, Tuesday for health, Wednesday the best day of all, Thursday for losses, Friday for crosses, and Saturday for no luck at all.”

This isn’t the only benefit of having a weekday wedding, though. A major benefit of a weekday wedding is down to the budgeting, saving money and potentially giving you an option of choosing a date in the popular summer months. Furthermore, weekend dates for wedding venues often get booked up years in advance due to high demand therefore, selecting a mid-week wedding date can open up further options.

8.       Receiving knives for a wedding gift

Knife-giving superstitions are prevalent around the world. According to a legend that dates back to the Vikings, receiving knives as a wedding gift symbolises the cutting or breaking of a relationship. Tradition suggests that the only way around this matter is for the gift giver to tape a coin to the knife. The coin must then be promptly removed and returned to the giver as a form of symbolic payment. This transaction prevents the relationship from being cut because the knife was “purchased”.

9.       Wearing pearls

When it comes to pearls, there is a deep-rooted superstition about wearing pearls on your wedding day. The superstition has been around for centuries with ancient folklore claiming that pearls are a symbol of tears and that wearing pearls on your wedding day will lead to a sad marriage. In fact, the number of pearls worn on your wedding day is said to indicate how many tears the bride will cry or how many unhappy years she will endure in the marriage.

10.       A spider on your wedding outfit

Lastly, we’re not entirely sure why, but English folklore suggests that finding a spider on your wedding dress is a sign of good fortune. It’s also thought that finding a money spider on you will bring you new clothes and money. So, while many people have a phobia of eight-legged creepy crawlies, finding a live spider in your wedding dress on your wedding day is seen as a good thing. But be sure to remove it from the dress safely as killing it could mean financial strife… supposedly!


The best thing about modern-day weddings, is that you can pick and choose which wedding traditions and conventions you want to embrace or dismiss. An when it comes to wedding superstitions, there is no evidence to back up any of the claims. Just remember there are no “rules” for weddings and anything and everything goes, as long as it brings you happiness as a couple. At The Lawrence Hotel we love helping couples plan their special day and cater to all types of traditional and alternative wedding requests.


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