Wedding Traditions Unveiled: The History Behind Them

by Chelsea in — Updated November 14, 2023 — Reading Time: 3 minutes

While browsing through gorgeous wedding photos, have you ever wondered why the groom traditionally stands to the left of the bride, or why most weddings were traditionally held at certain times of day? We’ve taken some of the most popular wedding traditions and ripped the veil right off. Check out some of the reasons behind wedding traditions we still uphold today.


Why the Veil?

Speaking of an unveiling, why is it customary for brides to wear a veil? Where did this strange headpiece come from and what was the thinking behind it? Would you be surprised to hear that brides traditionally wore the veil to ward off evil spirits who might see her blushing face and happy smile and become angry? This was ancient thinking behind this specific piece of bridal attire. Some sources also point to arranged marriages, and say that the veil was to keep the identity of the bride secret until the marriage was official, and the man could move the veil for his kiss.


Jordan Almonds

So, why do so many weddings feature those little covered almonds? Surely not every bride is a total almond lover? Well, the tradition is actually to give each guest five Jordan almonds. They were said to represent health, wealth, happiness, family, and long life – all wishes that wedding guests had for the happy new couple!


Half-Hour Weddings

Although it’s becoming more and more popular for brides and grooms to say “I do” during all times of the day, many still believe it’s bad luck to get married before the half-hour (for instance, at 2:15 or 5:25 rather than 2:45 or 5:35). Why? Because the old tradition was to get married while the minute hand on the clock was ascending rather than descending. The thought was that while the minute hand was ascending, the marriage would be closer to heaven than if the minute hand was descending.


Bride on Left, Groom on Right

Even the brides who break most traditions, such as the white gowns and the traditional vows, don’t typically break this one: the bride stands on the left and the groom on the right, from the point of view of the guests. Why is that? Well, traditionally, the man stood to the right of the bride, with his left hand holding hers so that his sword arm would be free. That’s right – and he certainly had his sword and scabbard on over top of his finest wedding attire. That way, if an invading army or trouble maker showed up during the festivities, he could quickly reach his sword and begin fighting.

The Honeymoon


Perhaps the strangest tradition we still observe is the honeymoon, which the bride and groom both look forward to. In ancient times, brides were often “stolen” from their families by grooms on campaign or traveling through the area. He would then take her into hiding for a month, with only his closest friends and family members knowing the location. Those individuals would bring sweet wine for the couple to celebrate their union, which led to the name “honeymoon.” Yes, it’s definitely barbaric, but we are certainly glad to have the tradition of the honeymoon, which has much more positive connotations today.

There you have it – some of our most popular wedding traditions unveiled. Do you know of any traditions that started off as necessary customs? Let us know in the comments below.

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