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Wedding Day Traditions

SOMETHING old, something new, something borrowed, something blue. Every bride knows the old rhyme and most probably follow it, but why?

According to superstition, something old ensures her friends will be faithful when they are needed and something new is supposed to promise success in her new life, something borrowed means she may take with her the love of her family and blue symbolises constancy.

If a girl marries before her elder sisters, they should wear green garters at the wedding. This is believed to date from a medieval English custom that part of the costume of an elder unmarried sister at the marriage of a younger sister was green stockings.

It is a long-held tradition that the bridegroom should not see the wedding dress before the ceremony, but traditions surround the dress for the bride as well.

It is supposedly unlucky for the whole outfit to be tried on before the day and very unlucky to try the veil on with the dress before the day.

The bride should look at herself in the mirror only at the last moment and even then a final adjustment should be made. It is a common practice to leave a few stitches of the hem to be completed on the morning of the wedding but to leave no pins; they are unlucky, while a spider caught in the folds of the dress will bring good fortune.

To wear the old bridal veil of a happily married woman is lucky and many girls choose to wear their mother's or grandmother's veil.

After the wedding, don't let a friend try on your veil, it's supposed to mean she'll run off with your husband!

There are fewer superstitions surrounding the bridegroom, but it is said to be unlucky if he drops his hat, although a small horseshoe carried in his pocket will bring good luck.

No telegrams should be passed to the bridegroom on his way to the church, and any sums of money he has to pay out during the day should be offered in odd amounts.

Naming the day should not be left to chance, since to change the date is considered unlucky unless there are exceptional circumstances.

To marry during a full moon is lucky, during Lent is poor choice. "If you marry in Lent, you're sure to repent."

There is some doubt as to the origins of the choice of the third finger of the left hand for the wedding ring. Many believe the tradition began with the Romans, who believed a vein ran straight from this finger to the heart. Others believe it began simply because the left hand is generally least used and so a more practical choice for adornment.

The Egyptians used the middle finger of the left hand, while ancient Gauls and Britons favoured the little finger. Roman Catholics preferred to use the right hand for betrothal and wedding rings until the middle of the 18th century. It is supposedly unlucky for a bride to try on her wedding ring before marriage and it is said that whichever of the couple drops the ring in church shall be the first to die. It is also said to be unlucky to remove a wedding ring before seven years of marriage.

The decorative tiered cake popular today is said to have been created by a baker inspired by Wren's design of St Bride's Church. It bears little resemblance to the bridal cakes thrown at a new wife as she entered her new home in Elizabethan times.

Today the cutting of the cake is a focal point at any reception, a tradition rooted in history when the first cut was made by the bride to ensure the marriage would be blessed by children.

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