Tag Archives: wedding traditions

Bridesmaids – The Tradition Of Having Bridesmaids In Your Wedding

How many bridesmaids will be in your wedding?  Why do we have bridesmaids?
At one time, a bride had a court of maids and the primary reason was to fool evil spirits, yes that’s right, evil spirits.  Bridesmaids clothed themselves in a similar fashion as the bride;  it was to confuse ill presences hovering around the wedding.  The ill presence could be in spirit form, or the human kind that just might have intentions to kidnap the bride.  Don’t you know it is difficult to nab the correct woman when her maids are dressed in similar attire!  This superstition of dressing the bridal party the same,  also offered protection from an ill-doer wanting to steal her dowry, which is confusing to me, did she have that on her person?
Colorado Wedding Photographers
Colorado Wedding Photographers
The Groomsmen
The Groomsmen
In Rome, law demanded that witnesses come to the wedding to add confusion to the spirits that had evil intent for the bride and groom.  eHow’s “History of Bridesmaids” states that: “female wedding attendants came to a marriage ceremony in garments akin to the bride’s, while male wedding attendants–the forebears of ushers–wore attire that resembled the groom’s own clothing. This supposedly threw off bad luck that could be directed towards an easily identifiable bride and groom.”  Honestly, I never really knew why the wedding party wore the exact same outfit.
We have photographed all varieties of bridal party clothing; men who are required to wear a dark suit of their choice and matching ties, or bridesmaids that wear a dress of their choice all in a similar color, people in casual clothing; parties in all matching dresses, all matching tux’s.  I think bridal parties, at least partially, are breaking from the old tradition.
The tradition of kidnapping brides has pretty much died off, though, I can’t say for sure if evil spirits still hang out weddings.  That is definitely out of my realm.  In the past, no person of social status was unattended, the more the status, the bigger the wedding bridal/grooms party, a nice way to show off the family’s wealth.  So, why do we still have a bridal party in modern times?  From what I can tell, a girl likes to have her friends around her on a special day, and a guy likes hanging with his buddies to celebrate.   And let us not forget the added bonus of the parties that friends often help throw for the bride and groom leading up to the wedding!
On the wedding day; the bridesmaid is kind of like an executive assistant and helps the bride with her needs on her wedding day.  She is someone who the bride can lean on and celebrate with.
Cielo wedding photographer
I am guessing the bridal party exists today for a multitude of reasons.  They definitely are a big help to the bride and groom, fulfilling little tasks, tying loose ends last minute etc.  Tradition certainly plays a role, although, I am convinced that the average bride and groom are probably not familiar with the true beginning of having attendants.  Moral and emotional support given by the party on this important day is definitely a reason to have close friends around.  The end result is a nice support system of friends that always end up having a laugh and a good time!  It seems like a very nice tradition and a way to bond with friends!

Tradition Of The Wedding Ring

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Did you ever wonder about your wedding ring?  Why do you wear it on your third finger?  Did we always wear wedding rings; cavewomen too? Why do we wear wedding rings?
Wedding rings are not worn on the third finger in all cultures, In parts of India, the wedding ring is worn on the thumb.  In 3rd century Greece, the index finger was for your wedding ring.  Romans OR Greeks, it is not clear whom, believed the vein in the “ring” finger, third finger, runs directly to the heart, and therefore should be worn there.  Furthermore on the wedding day, the wedding band is put on first so that it is closest to the heart.  Symbolically it is done so because the marriage is a bigger commitment than the engagement.
It was the ancient Egyptian who established the custom of placing a ring on the finger of his wife, as a sign that he had confidence in her ability to care for his house. The Greek and Roman bridegroom often gave a ring to the bride’s father-a practice that was probably a survival of primitive bride purchase.

It was not until about 860 that the Christians used the ring in marriage ceremonies; even then, it was not the simple plain band as we know it. It usually was highly decorated with engraved doves, lyres, or two linked hands. The Church discouraged such rings as ‘heathenish’ and, around the 13th century, wedding and betrothal rings were considerably simplified, and given a more spiritual look. The spiritual aspect was conveyed by Bishop Durant when he declared that wedding bands were a “symbol of the union of hearts.” In the U.K., the people believed so strongly in the necessity for a ring that if a groom were too poor to buy one, he rented one for the occasion.

 A little more about the ring:  The circle was the symbol of eternity, with no beginning or end, not only to the Egyptians, but many other ancient cultures. The hole in the center of the ring also had significance. It wasn’t just considered a space, but rather a gateway, or door; leading to things and events both known and unknown. To give a woman a ring signifies never-ending and immortal love.

These rings were made of materials such as reeds, grasses, plants etc. and didn’t last very long and soon were substituted with rings made of leather, bone or ivory. The more expensive the material, the more love shown to the receiver; the value of the ring also  demonstrated the wealth of the giver.

The Roman’s also eventually adopted this tradition but with their own twist. Rather than offering a ring to a woman as a symbol of love, they awarded them as a symbol of ownership. Roman men would “claim” their woman with the giving of a ring.  It is also said that the Romans were the first to engrave their rings.

This research seems a little dry and uninteresting.  But over and over, the same themes came up.

The Following Is A Brief History Of Engagement Rings According To Readers Digest:

Pre-History: The caveman tied cords made of braided grass around his chosen mate’s wrists, ankles, and waist, to bring her spirit under his control.

Circa 2800 BC: Egyptians are buried wearing rings made of a single silver or gold wire on the third finger of their left hands, believed to be connected directly to the heart by the vena amoris.

2nd Century BC: According to Pliny the Elder, the groom gives the bride first a gold ring to wear during the ceremony and at special events, then an iron ring to wear at home, signifying her binding legal agreement to his ownership of her.

1st Century BC: Puzzle rings first appear in Asia, where sultans and sheiks use them to tag each of their wives.

1477: In one of the first recorded uses of a diamond engagement ring, Archduke Maximilian of Austria proposes to Mary of Burgundy with a ring that is set with thin, flat pieces of diamonds in the shape of an “M.”

1800s: The highly sentimental Victorians make jewelry from human hair, and use gemstones to spell out names or endearments, such as a D-E-A-R-E-S-T ring set with a sequence of diamond, emerald, amethyst, ruby, emerald, etc.

1867: Diamonds are discovered in the Cape Colony (now a province in South Africa), the beginning of a huge increase in the diamond supply.

1880: Cecil Rhodes, who arrived in South Africa in 1873, founds the DeBeers Mining Company with other investors. Within the decade, they will control 90 percent of the world’s diamond production.

1886: Tiffany & Co. introduces the “Tiffany setting,” a six-prong ring designed to maximize a diamond’s brilliance by raising it up from the band.

1890s: Affordable wedding rings and diamond engagement rings appear in mail-order catalogs, such as Sears & Roebuck.

1920s: Manufacturers and retail jewelers try to launch the concept of men’s engagement rings, which sinks like a lead balloon.

Early 1940′s: Engagement rings become the leading line of jewelry in most department stores.

2000: Amid growing concern over human rights violations associated with their trade, the diamond industry creates the World Diamond Council to develop and oversee a tracking system that will “prevent the exploitation of diamonds for illicit purposes such as war and inhumane acts.”

2002: According to a Fairchild Bridal Group Study, more than a third of couples buying diamond engagement rings spend at least two months’ salary.

This research seems a little dry and uninteresting.  But over and over, the same themes came up.  I think that the origin and tradition seems a little blurry to me….or maybe it just changed a lot from what it means now in 2012.  I think that we (I will speak for us here in the U.S. only) wear wedding rings as symbols.  They symbolize ever lasting, never-ending love and commitment, just like the ring has no beginning or end.  The ring expresses something about our tastes in jewelry, for some it expresses status.  For sure it is an outward symbol that demonstrates commitment and fidelity.  And privately, the rings signify a symbol of love, promises and dreams that the couple will share for the rest of their lives

Wedding Traditions – Old, New, Borrowed, Blue?

Something old, something new, 

something borrowed, something blue,

and a silver sixpence in her shoe.

This saying came from England from the Victorian Era.  Each aspect of the poem embodies an item of good luck, and a good wish for the bride.  Out of the many traditions that we have surrounding weddings, personally, I really like this tradition.  It doesn’t come with a weird background, like carrying a bouquet to cover your body odor, or not seeing the groom, so that he won’t run away  leaving you at the altar because you are not attractive enough.  This one has a very good well-wishing, loving energy to it.  It is based in sending the bride off with positive pieces of her past, present, and future.  And, you as a bride can have fun with it.  If you agree read on!

The OLD represents the brides heritage of the past, continuity if you will.  A time to reflect on the successful marriages that the bride/you have experienced in your life, and the desire to bring that success to your union.   I once read on a post in The Knot that the traditions in the poem are not of great importance, just little tokens, and that you should not stress about them: feel free to go ahead and take the pressure off of yourself by wearing a used pair of hose. (Washed I am assuming?!)  But, I like the idea of putting a little more thought into it.  I do not see it as a stress, but perhaps a time to reflect on what is important in your upcoming marriage, and a way to privately express those thoughts.  Perhaps you have a piece of jewelery from a grandparent, or I have witnessed brides redesigning and wearing their mother/grandmothers old wedding dress.  Another bride wore an antique dress that was about 100 years old!  So cool!  I personally carried my grandmothers lace handkerchief, and it made me feel like her memory was present with me.

Nicole took her mother’s dress and had it redesigned into a modern-day classic.  Nicole has complied with the tradition of something old in a unique and beautiful way.

The NEW represents the optimism and success of the new life ahead.  This is pretty easy, I am sure that every bride is excited and optimistic about their upcoming marriage, just as  I am sure that every bride has something new in their wardrobe for the big event, the shoes, flowers, dress, veil, underwear, etc..  If not, fall back on The Knot’s recommendation of taking the pressure off, by buying a NEW pair of hose!  And, there is that tradition of the groom buying his bride a gift.  I have witnessed the groom giving his bride a watch, or piece of jewelry  and she knew about the gift in advance, and planned on that gift being the ‘new’ item that she would wear.

The groom hands his bride a gift, she wears it to the ceremony and comply’s with the tradition of something new.

The BORROWED.  It is a symbolic form of support from one of your happily married gal pals or relative.  They are passing on their marital success, blessings and bliss to your marriage.  You borrow an item and with it, its’ positive good marital energy and return it afterwards (otherwise it would change the poem to something old, something new, something kept, something….) It is also believed to symbolize that you can depend on that lending person; I think perhaps you depend on them, the lender,  for marital bliss advice.  It is the same as something old with respect to the item itself…a piece of jewelry, watch,dress, scarf etc. will suffice for the borrowed item.   Borrow something that you like and feel comfortable with and presto; enjoy the well wishes that comes with it!

Something BLUE.  Blue has been involved with weddings for many, many years.  Ancient history is involved here.  In Rome, blue was worn by the bride to symbolize loyalty, fidelity, purity, and love.  Before Queen Vicky changed dresses to white, blue was a popular wedding gown color.  In the past the bridal couple wore blue borders on their wedding attire to express the same ideas that the Romans expressed with blue (loyalty, fidelity, purity and love).  I have seen the bride wear  the following items in blue: shoes, nail polish, garters, flowers, rings, jewels, etc. to comply with this part of the poem. Be creative with it.  Or, if you are stressed by this, just go for the blue hose, used preferably to kill two birds with one stone!

This bride wears a beautiful pair of blue suede ballerina flats, adding a lovely, colorful touch to her gown and complies with the tradition of something blue.

And…the part that we U.S.A. Citizens seem to have forgotten: …..and a silver sixpence in her shoe.  So, the poem/tradition is British and the sixpence is a coin from Britain dating from 1551 to 1967.  It was made of silver and worth six pennies.   According to AskYahoo, a silver sixpence in the bride’s shoe represents wealth and financial security. It may date back to a Scottish custom of a groom putting a silver coin under his foot for good luck. For optimum fortune, the sixpence should be in the left shoe. These days, a dime or a copper penny is sometimes substituted, and many companies sell keepsake sixpences for weddings. And these days, who couldn’t use some reassurance on a future fortune?

This is a tradition that you can really sink your teeth into! If you are not the creative type, it is still easy to accomplish, think previously worn blue panty hose and three are knocked off the list!  What I like most, is that you take time out from the hustle bustle of planning and, you stop and think about what is important from your past,  (the happy influencing marriages from your past), and you look at your present day marriage mentors and then you look to your future dreams for your wedded life.  How nice is that?!

Then you fly to England to collect for yourself a sixpence in an antique shop and you have got a nice trip to England out of that deal.  Or skip the trip to England and put a dime in your shoe.  It can be a very inexpensive tradition that you stick to (if you skip the trip to England), that brings around happy, positive, reassuring thoughts to your upcoming nuptials.  Enjoy!

Nicole in the new version of her mother’s wedding dress.

Bethany’s gown is over 80 years old.  The wedding theme was an ‘antebellum period wedding’, this dress was an amazing touch.

Wedding Traditions – Why Does The Bride Carry A Bouquet?

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Why does the bride carry a bouquet? The origin of this tradition is a little blurred…. One of the reasons that brides carried bouquets was born out of the ‘necessity’ of covering odor, trying to smell pretty on that special day.  Ever take a tour in one of the older cities in Europe, let’s say Edinburgh for example?  It was a very odiferous lifestyle way back then!  In the 1600’s and for a very long time afterwards, people bathed extremely infrequently. According to the Huffington Post, during the 15th century, people took their yearly baths in May and would generally get married in June. Just to be safe, brides carried bouquets to mask the smell of body odor.  You will find this reason repeatedly if you research the tradition behind the bride carrying a bouquet. Another old and popular custom for carrying a bouquet, was to ward of evil spirits.  Usually these bouquets were made from very pungent herbs, spices and yes, garlic could be involved.  I am thinking that you could kill two birds with one stone with a garlic bouquet; evil spirits and evil odor could be knocked out with one bouquet! Oh the old days!  Sometimes the spices/flowers that were included in the bouquet, for example; dill and marigolds (edible) were added and subsequently served up at the wedding feast to promote lust.  So think about the fun that you can have with your bouquet! I will paraphrase what I recently read in “Herlife” Magazine with regard to the tradition.  “In ancient times, a bride was considered especially lucky on her wedding day.  So, guest were compelled to tear off parts of her dress to obtain a good luck talisman for themselves!  Not all brides cared for this activity, as it seamed unpleasant to have their clothing ripped from her bit by bit, compliments of the guests.  So it evolved, that the bride outsmart her guest by giving an offering of herself; enabling a guest to obtain a lucky talisman and allowing herself to keep her clothing intact: she starting throwing her garter and bouquet in lieu of pieces of her dress.”

I was glad to find this article, because it now explains to me some of the crazy bouquet grabbing, or should I say tackling behaviour that I have witnessed at some of my family and friends weddings! Somewhere around the 1700’s brides started carrying pretty bouquets, because:  bouquets are pretty!  and, this tradition is still in style today.  bouquets bring beauty, elegance, a touch of the color scheme, and a bit of the old custom to your day.  There are many florist to shop for your flowers, if you are looking for a good florist here in the Evergreen, CO area, check out Stems,  I simply must mention them here, because I have seen some really creative, elegant, and impressive flowers at some of the weddings that we have photographed, all compliments of this designer.   But, I digress.  So, bouquets:  they also may be used to express yourself through the flowers themselves.  Roses represent everlasting love, lilac is for first love, Stephanotis is good luck, ivy says fidelity and on and on.  You can really add some beauty and say a lot about yourself with a bouquet. This custom seems to have evolved quite a bit from its origin, but todays tradition for the bouquet: added beauty and personal expression.

Wedding Traditions – Bride And Groom Do Not See Each Other Before The Ceremony

Why don’t the bride and groom see each other before the wedding ceremony?

A hundred years ago or so, the bride and groom would put on their best clothing and walk together to the church or town meeting center to ‘make it official’.

And, years before that, when arranged marriages were the norm, the betrothed were never permitted to have a glance at one another.  Marriage was business, and it meant acquiring land, property and other goods through joining two people.   No father wanted to muck up a perfectly good business deal by having the groom see the potential bride and not like what he sees, thus backing out of the deal.  That bride needed to be a 10 on the attractiveness scale for a dad to take such a chance of letting the groom see her before the ceremony.  In some cultures, dowry’s were involved, ah the dowry, no father wants his son to lose that, so, again, no visual for the bride and groom.  In other words, it was considered “bad Luck” for the groom to see the bride because the groom, back in the day, would leave the “visual unpleasing” bride at the alter, indeed bad luck for her.

In the last couple of years, there has been a trend for people to marry because they love one another, and also, they are usually very attracted to each other!  Win, win!

In the U.S., arranged marriages are not very common nowadays, however, many brides still don’t allow their groom to see them before the wedding.  Many brides believe it gives them a sense of excitement and longing, making their wedding day more memorable.  And then many brides enjoy hanging out with their betrothed for a spot of time before their ceremony, allowing them to calm nervousness and share intimate moments together before the ceremony.

So, have you thought it through?  Will you see each other before the wedding?

From a photographers standpoint, we will do whatever you wish; it is your day, but some of the best “first glance” photo’s are birthed out of the calm meeting of bride and groom before the spotlight of the ceremony.  Again, I would like to restate, it is your day, so we will do whatever you would like with respect to seeing each other before the ceremony or not.  With that said, Dave and I have had discussions about the difference that we see when a couple sees each other pre-ceremony versus when they do not.  I personally think that is gives us a chance to capture the “first look” photos but something more; it gives the bride and groom a tender visit with each other.  A time to calm each others nerves, a very intensely romantic time.  The average couple will feel nervous before they walk down the aisle, let’s face it, it is not every day that you do this!  Personally, I think it would be very romantic and very cool to see a tradition form, where the couple spends some time together before the ceremony, reaffirming their love, calming, soothing and celebrating their bond together before they make their grand entrance!  After all, we are no longer talking about a business deal that might fail because of aesthetics…we are talking about the latest tradition of marrying for love.  Below are some pics of a “First Look” from a recent wedding.

What are your thoughts?

Wedding Traditions- Why Are Dresses White?

Long before Queen Victoria set the trend of wearing a white wedding dress, European brides bought a practical garment that would be worn on many occasions after the marriage.  The lower class favored black as it made the dress more practical.  I once read that author Jane Austen’s mother wore a red dress to her ceremony, this was typical for someone of her socioeconomic background.  When a white dress was worn, it was a color of mourning, brides would don white when they had recently lost a close relative, that was of course until Queen Victoria came along.

Are we seeing a trend for colored wedding dresses?  Reese Witherspoon, Julianne Moore, Gwen Stefani and other famous people chose to wear a non-white dress for their wedding.  Or should I say; are we seeing fashion go further back into the tradition of a colored wedding dress…since historically gowns have had color for longer than they have not.  The history behind gowns is rich and full of influence from fashion, social status, religion and culture.

The runway, 2012, is definitely showing more color this year than in many years past with colored wedding dresses or splashes of color on the wedding dress.  It will be interesting to see if the trend takes hold.  Do you have a prediction?  Are you a bride that wants to set herself apart from the others, or are you more steeped in tradition?  Did you ever know the background of why us girls choose white in the first place?  I would love to hear from you!

One of the publications that showcased a departure from the white wedding dress was Grace Ormonde Wedding Style, but then again, it had many white dresses as well!

Whatever you choose: a pink dress, white, or white with a splash of color at the sash, you will look beautiful.  Enjoy your special day, and don’t be afraid to think outside the box!


ps.    WOW, this just in:  Check out Vera Wang’s black wedding dress!  The dress was recently featured in an article titled “10 Unforgettable Weddings Gowns” via Brides.com – published March 26, 2012.


I would like to introduce my wife Peggy.  As some of you may know Peggy is a second shooter that works with me, and foremost, she is my lovely wife.  Having been through a wedding of our own and witness to many friends, family and client weddings, she has and avid interest in the art of putting together a wedding.

Often when we meet with clients, Peggy will go along.  She’ll often speak her mind when it comes to what we see when people are influenced by traditions and customs.  She would also tell you that she see’s many couples motivated by the objective of making their wedding different.  Either way, the ceremony and celebration are always interesting and it is fun for my wife to watch the process unfold into the final day.

She will be writing a few blog posts on the subject of wedding traditions.  Just in case you are interested on the background details of the customs and traditions that may be influencing your wedding.

I hope that you will enjoy her posts!

Trust me she’ll loves this pic!  ha ha!: