Blog Post4 Common Wedding Traditions and Why They are Done

Megan Mikulsky October 15, 2021

Weddings are often made up of multiple age-old traditions which have changed over time. Whether you are fully incorporating these traditions, taking your own twist on them, or ignoring them altogether, learn about the history behind these 4 common traditions and why they are done!

Why are Wedding Rings Worn on the Fourth Finger of the Left Hand?

Photo from Smyth Jewelers

The western tradition of wearing a wedding ring is so well-known that we refer to our fourth finger as our “ring finger” way before we ever get engaged. But why?

In ancient times, the fourth finger was thought to have a vein that led directly to the heart. This was called Vena Amoris, or vein of love. It is speculated that this belief originated in ancient Egypt. The idea of a direct vein running from the finger to the heart has since been disproved, however the tradition of ring placement has not changed.

Related: 10 Things No One Tells You About When Shopping For a Wedding Ring

Why is There a Wedding Rehearsal?

The wedding rehearsal is a tradition that gathers family members and the wedding party to prepare for the upcoming ceremony. The rehearsal can involve a run-through of the ceremony and events to occur the day of the wedding. This private celebration gives the couple a chance to thank their guests, and they may give out gifts during this time. It also allows family and friends to get to know each other prior to the ceremony. 

It isn’t known when exactly the tradition of wedding rehearsals began. However, it is often attributed to the trend of elaborate weddings that began in the 1820s. Before then, weddings were held in an intimate setting with fewer guests and in one’s own home, so there was no need for a rehearsal.

Why Do We Hand Out Wedding Favors?

Photo from MFG Toffee & Bark Company

It is believed that wedding favors started in France, where upper class individuals would gift wedding guests with luxurious treats. In Greece, sugared almonds were often gifted to guests inspired by the tale of Demophon, these treats represented the ups and downs found in marriage.

Even now, it is not unusual to see Jordan Almonds at a wedding in honor of this tradition. Today, couples utilize these favors to give thanks to their guests. Wedding favors can include anything from glasses, to candles, to pictures, to sweets, to blankets, and everything in between.

Why Do They Toss The Bouquet & Garter?

The wedding garter is worn on either leg above the knee. Traditionally, weddings will have a Garter Toss during the reception. This involves the  groom taking the garter off the bride and throwing it for the guests to catch. The tradition started in Medieval England, where it was seen as good luck to have a piece of the bride’s clothes. Guests would often get unruly in trying to obtain a piece of cloth from the bride, therefore, in an effort to appease guests, the bride and groom started the tradition of tossing the bouquet and garter.

Modern weddings seem to be following this tradition less and less.  Some brides wear a garter but do not toss it. Some brides skip the removal-part and keep a spare garter to toss, and some skip it altogether.