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Weddings are the perfect time to express a couple's personalities and beliefs to the ones they love. Many couples today are looking back to ancient customs and perhaps looking toward their heritages as a renewed source for the customs and traditions they will use in their wedding ceremony.

When planning your ceremony, you may come across many traditions that you have seen practiced before but are unsure of their origination. Bride's Magazine has done an excellent job explaining what many of these traditions mean and you can then decide if these are customs you would like to carry through for your wedding day nuptials.

The Wedding Ring
According to Brides Book of Etiquette, the circular shape of the wedding ring symbolizes never-ending love. According to folklore, the ring protected the bride against evil spirits; if the bride or groom dropped it during the ceremony, bad luck would follow. Originally, rings were made of rushes, hemp, or braided grass, which had to be replaced every year.

Romans chose more durable iron to symbolize the permanence of marriage. Gold has always been a popular, but more expensive choice, symbolizing lasting beauty, purity and strength. In ancient Egypt, before coins were minted, gold rings were used as currency and as a symbol of the groom's wealth and his intention to wed. To show that he trusted his wife with his money, the Egyptian husband placed a gold ring on the third finger of her left hand . . .

Why Does the Bride Wear a Veil?
Originally, the bride's veil symbolized her youth and virginity. Veils helped bride's remain modest and hide themselves from jealous spirits. Even today, in Muslim countries in the Middle East, Africa, and Eastern Europe, a young man is bound by constraints of religious modesty to conduct his entire courtship while his bride-to-be remains veiled. He's not permitted to see her face until after the wedding . . .

Why Does the Bride Wear White?
White has been a symbol of celebration for some 2,000 years, since the Roman era. In the 19th-century Victorian times, white was a sign of affluence–since it was assumed that a woman would only be able to wear a white dress once or twice, before it was soiled. At the beginning of the 20th century, white became synonymous with purity. Today, the color white once again symbolizes joy on the wedding day; women who are remarrying may choose among many shades of white–from bright white to ecru to champagne.

Why Does the Bride Carry a Handkerchief?
Not all bride's head down the aisle with one, but if you choose to, it is considered to be a good omen. Early farmers thought a bride's wedding-day tears were lucky and brought rain for their crops. Later, it was believed that a bride who cried at her wedding would never shed another tear about her marriage.

Why Does the Bride Wear Something Old and Something New?
This custom stems from an old English rhyme, "Something olde, something new, something borrowed, something blue (#2040), and a sixpence in her shoe. . ." (#2067) Brides throughout the decades have taken care to include these touches in their bridal outfit, a nod to tradition and superstition. The symbolism: continuity, optimism for the future, borrowed happiness, fidelity, and good fortune.

Why Does the Bride Wear Something Blue?
Brides in ancient Israel wore blue ribbons on the borders of their fringed robes to denote modesty, fidelity, and love–ideals still associated with that color. Blue is also the color that represents the purity and innocence of the Virgin Mary. To add that "Something Blue" (#2040).

Why is it Good Luck to Put a Coin in Your Shoe?
This custom originated in England. Coins (#2067) were given to young ladies as love tokens. A gentleman burnished the reverse side of the coin, then engraved the initials for his beloved. In Sweden, the bride's father places a piece of silver in her left shoe; her mother, a piece of gold in her right, so that she may never lack in luxuries. Royal brides traditionally have a tiny silver horseshoe sewn in the hem of their gown for good luck.

Why Does the Ceremony End with a Kiss?
From the days of ancient Rome, the kiss was a legal bond that sealed contracts, and thus, the betrothal. Christianity incorporated the betrothal ceremony into the marriage ritual. It was also believed that when a couple kissed, part of each of their souls was left behind in the other when their breath was exchanged. Occurring at the end of the rites, the kiss announces a new status.

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