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  • Writer's pictureAlicia LaHaie

Refreshing the Classic Wedding Traditions

Some of the more known wedding traditions are getting a facelift for the modern couple. Some are being changed up, some are being thrown out entirely, and it’s really making weddings so much more personal and unique to the couple and their own unique experiences. There’s no reason to do something simply because it’s tradition, especially without knowing the origins of those wedding traditions. So, for those of you thinking a little more out of the box and wanting to create something unique to you and your fiancé, here are some fun new ideas to shake things up. Some are based on existing traditions, while some, are just entirely new concepts. If you decide to use one of these or have something else completely different than I have listed, let me know. I would love to learn about what you’ve come up with.

Bride and Mother of the Bride hugging
Photo by Hoppe Images

History of the Bouquet Toss:

The tradition of the bouquet toss as we know it today started in England in the 1800s, but the origin of this tradition is even older. Prior to the 1800s, it was considered good luck to simply touch the bride on her wedding day. Hopeful single girls would often rush the bride—crowding her, touching her—in the hopes that a little bit of the bride’s wedding-day good fortune would rub off on them and they would soon be married. As legend has it, some single women would even go as far as to try and take home keepsakes of the bride’s wedding dress as she walked by. To escape, the bride would often toss the bouquet and run. The bouquet toss tradition was created, in part, to bestow luck on guests without going to such extreme measures.

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  • Instead of doing a Bouquet Toss

    • Have your bouquet made into sections and tied together, at the reception, untie your bouquet and hand out the smaller bouquets to those women that had a hand in making you the woman you are today

    • Give out the bridesmaids’ bouquets to all the single women that you know would rather have the flowers than have to compete for them on the dance floor

    • Pass the Torch: Give your bouquet to a couple getting married soon to bring them luck and wish them congratulations. Also makes for a fun transition video from wedding to wedding of all your friends.

  • History/Origin of the Unity Candle

This “classic” tradition began about 35-40 years ago, representing the joining of two people. Before taking their seat, the mother (traditionally) of both sides would light a taper candle that is seated at either side of a larger pillar candle. The candles remain untouched through the ceremony until the bride and the groom have exchanged vows. Together, the couple lights the center pillar candle using the flames of both candles that are already burning to represent both sides of their families. The custom first became popular in the second half of the 20th century in American Christian weddings. The origins are unclear, however the use of a unity candle in a 1981 episode of General Hospital may have helped to popularize the practice.

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  • Instead of doing a Unity Candle at your Ceremony

  • Love Letters and Wine Box: In this unity ceremony, you and your fiancé each write a love letter and place it and a bottle of wine or your favorite liquor in a box. During the ceremony you hammer nails in together (or close a lock together) to seal the box. The box then serves as a time capsule to be opened and enjoyed on an anniversary.

  • Unity Sandwich: For the foodies, here’s looking at you. Each layer of the sandwich represents a different part of marriage - bread as the foundation, your favorite 2 cheeses or a mixed cheese like Colby jack to represent the two families coming together, lettuce pulled from the head as their shared dreams, salami for the hard times, ham for the sweet times, etc. The couple put it together then take a bite!

  • New Orleans version with a Muffaletta: Bread is the foundation, the olive mix is the families joining together, the salami to represent the hard times, the ham for the sweet moments, and the Swiss cheese for open communication.

  • Ring Warming: This one is my personal favorite because it involves all your guests and instead of a separate keepsake, you just use your wedding rings. During the ceremony, the rings are passed among the guests. As each guest holds them, they make a wish for your happiness. You then exchange the rings as usual, but they've been infused with each guest’s well wishes.

  • Red Thread: The Red Thread of Fate, also referred to as the Red Thread of Marriage, is commonly thought of as an invisible red cord around the finger of those that are destined to meet one another as they are "their true love".

"This red string of fate binds us, through all eternity, we once were to blinded by heartbreak, to hurt to see. We lived our lives separate, always feeling incomplete, to ignorant to notice this invisible red thread at our feet. No matter the distance it can become tangled, yet never broken, the moment we met it was as if destiny had spoken. The red string of fate can stretch throughout the world, yet will always lead us to each other, forbidding us to successfully love another. We are forever connected, by this string tied around your ankle and mine, binding our hearts together since the beginning of time. It led me to you, now we have found our way, in my heart and soul forever is where you will stay. When this life ends and we begin anew, I have no doubt that this red string of fate will again lead me to you."

Traditionally a red thread a tied to the two lovers during the ceremony, the Couple have chosen to incorporate their version of the red thread by stitching one another’s initials into their attire with red thread.

  • Origins of the Wedding Cake

Wedding cakes have their roots in Ancient Rome, when marriage ceremonies ended with a scone-like wheat or barley cake broken over the bride’s head for luck and fertility. The new husband and wife would eat a few crumbs together as one of their first unified acts as a married couple. Not quite the mouthful of frosting you’d get today, but close enough. Once the newlyweds had their share, wedding guests would scoop up the leftover crumbs for good luck.

By the medieval days, the English stopped with the plain ol’ wheat cake and starting stacking spiced buns, scones, and cookies as high as possible—a precursor to the tiered cakes of today—and the bride and groom would try to kiss over it. Legend said if they smooched successfully without letting the whole thing topple over, they’d have good fortune.

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  • Traditional Wedding Cake Alternatives

    • King Cakes (in season only)

    • Freshly made beignets served with coffee

    • A cookie tower or multi-tier cookie cake (it’s all about the cream filling between layers)

    • Pies (each of your favorite pie flavors displayed on different cake stands), also see Cheesecake

    • Bundt Cake and mini bundts for guests

    • Are you a lover of Rice Krispie treats? Turn them into your wedding dessert, make a multi-tier treat because you know cutting into that, the sound is irresistible!

    • Donut stacks surrounded by a beautiful display of donut holes, or whatever your favorite donuts might be; crullers anyone?

Bride and Groom cutting their wedding cake
Photo by Jordan Blanchard Photography
Cookie and Cream Layered Wedding Cake
Photo by Randy P Schmidt Photography, Cake by Gambino's Bakery

As the wedding industry changes with time, so do the traditions and practices that couples are finding meaning in for their union from dating to married. As I tell my couples all the time, your love story is unlike anyone else’s, so why would you want your wedding to look like someone else’s wedding? Take the time to really consider what makes your love story beautiful? What is it about the two of you that bonds you and makes you stronger?

Thank you for taking time to check out my blog post. Check out some of the other posts and don't forget to share with your friends and family that are in the process of planning their wedding.

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