1. A bride is traditionally carried over the threshold either to symbolise her reluctance to leave her father’s home or because evil spirits hovered over the threshold of a house—so she was lifted over the entrance to protect her from the spirits.
2. Wedding rings are often placed on the third finger of the left hand because ancient Egyptians believed the vein in that hand (which the Romans called the “vein of love”) ran directly to the heart.
3. The bride’s veil traditionally symbolised her youth and virginity. Veils also hid the bride from jealous spirits or the Evil Eye. In the past, veils could be red, blue or yellow (the colour of Hymen, the Greek god of marriage). The modern white veil became popular during the Victorian era as a symbol of purity and modesty. A white veil also indicated that a bride was wealthy enough to wear white.
5. A wedding cake is traditionally a symbol of good luck and fertility and has been a part of wedding celebrations since Roman times, when a small bun, symbolising fertility, was broken above the bride’s head at the close of the ceremony. During the Middle Ages, custom required the bride and groom to kiss over small cakes.
6. The phrase “tying the knot” initially came from an ancient Babylonian custom in which threads from the clothes of both the bride and bridegroom were tied in a knot to symbolize the couple’s union. Literally tying some type of ceremonial knot at a wedding ceremony can be found across cultures
7. Pope Innocent III (1160/1-1216) declared that a waiting period should be observed between betrothal and marriage, which led to separate engagement and wedding rings. The first recorded account of a diamond engagement ring was in 1477 when King Maximilian I of Germany (1459-1519) proposed to Mary of Burgundy (1457-1482) and offered her a diamond to seal his vow.
8. Greek brides believed that tucking a lump of sugar into the wedding gown would bring sweetness throughout married life.
9. In Mediterranean countries, Jordan almonds are given to guests at a wedding to represent the bitter and the sweet sides of marriage.
10. The superstition that the bridegroom must not see his bride before the wedding stems from the days when marriages were arranged and the groom might never have seen the bride. There was the chance that if he saw her, he might bolt. Other sources say that to see the bride in her dress is peering into the future, which can bring bad luck.
11. In several countries, including Germany and Greece, the bride attempts to cover her new husband’s foot while dancing in order to establish dominance.
12. The bachelor or stag party supposedly started in fifth-century Sparta where military compatriots would feast and toast one another on the eve of a wedding, like warriors going to battle.
13. Early Roman brides carried a bunch of herbs, such as garlic and rosemary, under their veils to symbolise fidelity and fertility and to ward off evil. These herbs served as a precursor to the modern bridal bouquet.
14. In many cultures, the groom historically often kidnapped the bride, and the groom’s friends would help him, leading to the modern-day groomsmen. At the alter, the groom always stood on the bride’s right side so his right hand—or his sword hand—would be free to fight/defend a jealous rival.
15. Flower girls traditionally threw flower petals in the bride’s path to lead her to a sweet, plentiful future.
To ensure fertility, the Irish would take a hen that was about to lay an egg and tie it to the wedding bed. The origins of ‘The Hen Party’ me thinks..!