Something Borrowed, Something Blue…the History of Wedding Traditions

by Stefanie Hughes and Christy Kelly

Most of the old, cherished wedding traditions started as a business transaction a long time
ago, and over the centuries have evolved to mean something more emotional. Before
incorporating these traditions into your own wedding, it might be helpful to know where their
beginning was. Here are some of the oldest wedding traditions and how they came to be.

The Dowry

This centuries-old tradition is the price (in money and/or goods) that the groom gives the
bride’s father on the wedding day. While not so common in America today, shades of it can
be seen in the bridal shower, where one legend shows the origins of friends coming together
to support the bride when her father refused to give a dowry.

Ask Permission First

This tradition has morphed into a sign of respect toward your future in-laws, but it originates back from
when marriage was considered a business transaction. Fathers wanted to make sure their daughters would
be properly cared for financially before allowing her to marry.

On Bended Knee
The practice of kneeling to propose has connections with genuflecting at mass as well as
chivalry code, where noble men would kneel while courting ladies to show their respect.

The Engagement and Wedding Rings

The engagement and wedding rings are placed on the left ring fingers due to the belief that the
vein that runs through that particular finger leads right to the heart.

Something Borrowed, Blue, Old and New?

Old: Represents the brides past
New: Represents the brides future with her spouse
Borrowed: Typically passed from someone already married and is a symbol for good luck
Blue: Stands for loyalty and purity

Walking down the Aisle
This tradition started from a push to move weddings into the church in order to prevent
young couples from eloping.

Don’t Look at Me until the “Re-Veil!”

Both saving the first look for the wedding ceremony and the bridal veil share the same origin; preventing the
couple from calling off the wedding at the last minute. When marriages were still arranged, there was the
chance that they wouldn’t find each other attractive and leave, and so the bride remained veiled until the end
of the ceremony.