Much as we may be modern thinkers and dismiss any kind of hocus-pocus as, well, hocus-pocus, most brides do pay a little sneaky regard to superstitions and how they may affect the outcome of the wedding and the marriage.
Being a pragmatic type I have to say that superstitions should not be taken seriously. But then, why do I refuse to walk under a ladder, or feel overjoyed when I find a four-leafed clover?
Let’s take a look at some of the more commonly known wedding superstitions – just for the sake of academic interest, of course!
It seems you should gather together all the bows and ribbons from the wrapping of your wedding gifts, stick them together into a large bouquet, and hang them over your marital front door for about a year. This apparently brings good luck. It will also bring cobwebs, dust and all manner of other creepy crawlies to your new home. Perhaps pressing all the bows into a flat collage, duly framed with insect-proof glass, would be more appropriate?
Many sources say it’s good luck if the bride sees, or preferably is kissed by, a chimney sweep on her wedding day. Just be sure you’re not wearing your pristine white dress at the time.
Knives as gifts
Jewish traditions say that if you receive knives as gifts; it’s bad luck. The remedy is for the recipient to give the donor a coin, so demoting the gift to a business transaction which solves the problem.
Rain on wedding day
This is an interesting one. Many superstitions say it’s bad luck if it rains on your wedding day, others say it’s good luck. Maybe that depends on which hemisphere you live in, or at least which climate. Those of us who live in chronically rainy Northern Europe should probably assume that rain on our wedding day is just one of those blasted things that we have to deal with whatever event we’re organising. However if you’re of a romantic frame of mind … rain on your wedding day can mean fertility via good news for the farmers’ crops. Some cultures say rain on your wedding day means you will have many children.
Finally, if you’re a Roman Catholic, I’m told that hanging a rosary outside on your clothes line if it’s raining on your wedding morning will ensure the downpour stops in time for the big event. I wish it were that easy…
Rice, throwing after ceremony
This tradition goes back quite a long way and the little rice kernels are supposed to represent fertility despite their being a squillion times larger than reproductive ova. (Confetti and flower petals represent the same thing.) Rice is also a damned nuisance in the yards of wedding ceremony venues because the kernels tend to acquire dampness, swell up and get caught up in the soles of everyone’s shoes – especially trainers. Before you allow rice to be thrown, check it out with the powers-that-be at your ceremony to ensure it’s permitted.
Right foot forward
This one is a bit like the old children’s superstition, ‘Step on a crack, break your grandmother’s back.’ It seems the bride must step into the wedding ceremony venue with her right foot first for good luck. Just watch you don’t catch it in the hem of your dress.
Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue
(And a silver sixpence in her shoe.) It seems this rhyme first emerged in Victorian times, but its origins go back further. The meaning of each item is not clear, but generally it’s taken that something old refers to the background of the couple – their friends and family. This is symbolised by the bride wearing something that isn’t new. Something new is about the couple’s future together, and shouldn’t be hard to symbolise as chances are the bride’s entire outfit is new – or at least new to her which is all that matters.
Something borrowed should be something belonging to a happily married family member so their good fortune carries on to the bride, and some say you should be sure to return the item if you want to avoid bad luck. Yes, even if you borrow your grandmother’s diamond earrings.
Something blue seems to have a variety of origins including ancient Rome , early Christianity and the Jewish faith. Take your pick.
Finally, the sixpence in your shoe. You would be hard pushed to find a sixpence these days since it was taken out of circulation in 1980.
Spider in the wedding gown
Many sources say that if you find a spider in your wedding gown, that’s a symbol of good luck. Probably not if you’re arachnophobic, however.
Oh, dear, this is a confusing one. There are many different and conflicting superstitions about the relevance of the bride crying at her wedding. The majority say it means that you’ll never cry again in your marriage, which is good news, but if you do your mascara will run, which isn’t. Decisions, decisions.
Throwing the bride’s bouquet
Tradition says the bride should call all interested female parties to gather around her, turn her back on them, and throw her bouquet over her shoulder.
Whoever catches it is next to be married. Either that or the lucky lady will get a jaunty black eye from catching a heavy bunch of blooms in her face.
Throwing the bride’s garter
A similar tradition says that the groom should remove his new wife’s garter and, having gathered all his single male friends around him, he should then throw that over his shoulder. Whoever catches it is the next man to be married. Mind you if the bride still has her dress hitched up from having had the garter removed, the men’s attention may well be elsewhere.
According to one perfectly serious source, the act of tying tin cans to the back bumper of the wedding car ensures that evil spirits will be warded off. Riding in a car would suggest 21 st century timing to me; aren’t we a bit too modern to believe in evil spirits?
Originally veils were worn to hide the bride away from evil spirits (and bridesmaids all dressed alike were suppose to confuse, thereby inhibit, evil spirits). In later cultures veils were worn more as a mark of chastity and modesty. And besides, they look lovely.
Some say that wearing the colour white for your wedding has diddly squat to do with the old virginity myth, but is purely a matter of financial one-upmanship. Evidently in the old days it was very costly to bleach fabrics and the whiter a fabric was, the more it must have cost the people concerned – hence the desirability of a whiter-than-white fabric for the wedding dress.