real life

5 seriously bizarre origins of wedding traditions.

Why is this actually a tradition





When you think about it – wedding traditions can be seriously weird.

The whole wedding ‘concept’ is rather nice of course – two people declaring their eternal love for each other, blah blah, lovely, lovely – but why on earth are we so stuck on white dresses? Why do we always save some of the wedding cake? Why does the bride have to be given away – can’t she walk herself down the damn aisle? She’s been walking around pretty much every other day of her life.

Mental Floss have researched the bizarre origins of different wedding traditions – and we’ve rounded up the strangest of them. And… well prepare for your world to be rocked because some of those quaint and delightful traditions have some pretty bizarre roots.

1. On white wedding dresses…

There was a time when a bride’s wedding attire was simply the best thing in her closet (talk about “off the rack”), and could be any color, even black. It was dear ol’ Queen Victoria (whose reign lasted from 1837-1901) who made white fashionable. She wore a pale gown trimmed in orange blossoms for her 1840 wedding to her first cousin, Prince Albert.

Just recently, Jessica Biel married Justin Timberlake wearing a pale pink wedding dress – and the world collectively lost its shit. “A PINK WEDDING DRESS?” we all exclaimed. “HOW OUTRAGEOUS!”

But hey, it seems that Biel was simply going back to pre-Queen-Victoria times and embracing the potential for originality. Bring back coloured wedding dresses, we say. (But other 19th century things can DEFINITELY stay in that era. Corsets? The Plague? Enough said.)

2. On giving away the bride….

All of our society’s gender issues stem from the fact that fathers once used their daughters as currency to a) pay off a debt to a wealthier land owner, b) symbolize a sacrificial, monetary peace offering to an opposing tribe or c) buy their way into a higher social strata. So next time you tear up watching a beaming father walk his little girl down the aisle, remember that it’s just a tiny, barbaric little hold over from the days when daughters were nothing but dollar signs to daddy dearest.

Here I was thinking that it was such a beautiful, heartfelt tradition for a dad to walk his daughter down the aisle. Turns out it’s all just a transaction. And those beautiful veils I’ve always admired? Simply tools of trickery and deceit, apparently they only existed so that the groom wouldn’t bolt if he didn’t like his new bride’s appearance.


How disappointing. In a way, this feels just like the time I found that that Elmo was just a puppet and not *really* an adorable red monster that hangs out on the coolest street in the world.

Life can be such a lie. At least we’ve still got Santa.

3. On the Best Man…

The original duty of a “Best Man” was to serve as armed backup for the groom in case he had to resort to kidnapping his intended bride away from disapproving parents. The “best” part of that title refers to his skill with a sword, should the need arise.

Men, forget about silly things like friendship – you should ALWAYS pick your best man based on his sword-handling and/or dueling skills. But make sure you invest in a sword that matches the floral arrangements, otherwise your bride might get cranky. It would be such a shame to spend thousands of dollars on the perfect wedding, only to muck it all up when it’s time to kidnap the bride.

4. On the Bridesmaid’s dress…

Brides’ faithful attendants were instructed to wear a dress similar to that of the bride so that during their group stroll to the church it would be hard for any ill-willed spirits or former boy-toys to spot the bride and curse/kidnap/throw rocks at her. (Ditto for the boys in matching penguin suits, saving the groom from a similar fate.)

Bridemaids, you can stop whinging about how much money you were forced to spend on that ugly dress that you’ll never be able to wear again. You’re not there to look nice – you’re there so that you can be cursed by the evil spirits targeting the bride! Self-sacrifice is the new black, people.

5. On refusing to throw away the leftovers of the cake…

Why do couples eat freezer-burned wedding cake on their one-year anniversary? It used to be assumed that when there was a wedding, a christening would follow shortly. So, rather than bake two cakes for the occasions, they’d just bake one big one and save a part of it to be eaten at a later date when the squealing bundle of joy arrived.

This one actually seems pretty clever. While the cake is bound to be less tasty, you’ve still saved yourself infinite amounts of time, energy, money and frustration.

With this method, you know that the vanilla-with-frangipani-decorations ice-cream cake you ordered isn’t going to accidentally turn out to be an exact chocolate cake replica of Thomas the Tank Engine. Friends, the taste of happiness is sweeter than anything.


You can go here to read more baffling origins of wedding traditions. But in the meantime, tell us – what wedding traditions do you like? If you’ve had a wedding, which traditions did you embrace, and which did you throw by the wayside? If you’re yet to get married – what do you think of the traditions?