The ring’s continuous circle symbolises never-ending love;
Third finger of the left hand was believed by the Egyptians to be special. They assumed that the vein running through it was connected directly to heart. It was identified by the Romans as the vena amoris or 'vein of love'.
The idea of an engagement ring was first introduced by Archduke Maximilian of Austria in 1477. In order to prevent the father of the woman he loved from arranging a marriage to a wealthier suitor in his absence, he placed a diamond ring on the finger of Mary of Burgundy;
It was a common belief in days of yore, that the ringing of wedding bells would drive away evil spirits;
The wedding veil is to symbolise of the bride to the groom. It originated by the bride standing underneath a canopy to signify being under the protection of her husband;
The wedding cake symbolism originated in Roman times. The cake once consisted of biscuits, was broken over the bride's head, and was a symbol of plenty. The sharing of the cake with the wedding guests signified 'breaking of bread in kinship'. If the wedding couple wished to symbolise great wealth and prosperity they would choose a fruitcake, with its rich ingredients such as raisins, cherries, almonds and spice. Lastly, the knife used to cut the cake was a symbol of the new wife's readiness to accept her role as the keeper of her own household;
Sugared almonds, which are also a tradition to be handed out to wedding guests, have another signification. The sweet sugar coating over the bitter almond represents the duality of life, and the egg shape symbolises fertility;
The familiar Bridal March from Richard Wagner's Opera, Lohengrin, is believed to have been made fashionable by the English Princess Louise – daughter of Queen Victoria. She had it played when she walked down the aisle at St. George’s Chapel to be married to the Marquess of Lorne (later Duke of Argyll) in 1871;
Interestly the Lohengrin Bridal March is usually not played at Jewish Weddings as the German composer, Richard Wagner, was said to be anti Semitic and thus he was shunned by those he rejected. Even today, it has become a tradition amongst those of the Jewish Faith to avoid this particular piece of music when making their wedding selections;
The tossing of the garter hails from 14th century France when the bride would toss her garter to certain unmarried guests to indicate who was next to be married. Later, across the channel, in the 17th and 18th centuries English women gave garters (favours) to their sweethearts as a token of faithfulness;
The popular carrying and throwing of the bride’s bouquet of flowers symbolised a bride's good fortune, which was then passed to the maiden who caught it;
So very popular even today is the medieval rhyme of: 'Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue'. These items are all symbolic of other things, i.e something old is a link to the past - maybe a garter from a happily married woman friend; the something borrowed refers to helpful friends however, it means it should be a piece of gold representing the sun, the source of life, and, according to superstition, this should be returned; the something blue however, is surprisingly a compliment to the moon, regarded as protector of women – the blue also symbolises loyalty; finally the something new is the wedding gown itself, representing the bride's new life;
The custom of toasting is an ancient French custom which called for bread to be placed in a glass, with a good toaster draining the contents to get to this 'toast'. Whichever one of the bride or groom finished the wedding toast first was considered the ruler of the newly formed family!
A tradition Jewish element in the Jewish wedding ceremony is the breaking of the glass. Originally it was to symbolise the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem, but nowadays there are other theories;
Other ancient symbols are the horseshoe - said to be good luck, and flowers – said to be for fertility and joy;
Throwing of rice, or confetti at the bridal couple is to bless their union with fertility. Originally, corn was thrown, however, the Victorian age saw the adoption of rice as a tradition, and more modern times brought about the replacement of food with the throwing of paper confetti, rose petals or even butterflies!
Decorating the bridal car after the event is an old tradition. Usually shoes are used and there were once seen as representing the authority which was being transferred from father to husband;
Lastly, it was the Roman custom that the woman should take her husband’s surname.