Garter by The Garter Girl, Julianne Smith
We recently came across an old article by Mental Floss that shares some familiar wedding traditions and their not-so-familiar origins. In the interest of debunking (or proving) these unlikely assumptions, let's take a closer look at what the article claims.
The white wedding dress was supposedly brought into fashion by Queen Victoria, who reigned from 1837-1901. Up until that point, a bride would simply pick the very best dress she had in her closet, be that yellow, green or even black. But when Victoria married her first cousin, Prince Albert, in 1840 decked out in a pale gown trimmed with orange blossoms, the white wedding craze was born. At the time, the color white for a gown was actually associated with mourning and therefore not thought to be appropriate for a wedding. We were able to find enough references to this to call it sort of proven, though we're sure Vicki's wasn't the first white wedding gown, just the most influential (until Lady Di came along, of course).
The origin of daddy walking daughter down the aisle isn't nearly as charming and tear-inducing as it is today; in fact, it's a hold-over from days long ago when daughters were considered property. Therefore a father walking his daughter down the aisle to her new "owner" could be thought of as similar to the car dealer handing over your keys so you can drive your new car off the lot. Some modern brides choose to blow off this tradition completely these days, but those who still exercise it generally appreciate the symbolism of their parents' blessing of the union.
The wedding party is allegedly a relic from the days when groomsmen would serve as armed guards, be that to protect the would-be husband from any jilted lovers who might show up at the wedding or to kidnap the bride in the good old days of marriage by capture (think getting clubbed and dragged off to the cave). It is said that the Huns, Goths and Visigoths captured so many brides against their will that they kept a cache of weapons hidden beneath the floorboards of churches. How romantic!
The garter toss is where it really gets weird. Apparently, back in the day (and in some uber traditional weddings a more modest version of this still happens), the new couple would be expected to consummate their vows in the presence of witnesses, and the husband would toss her garter to prove he'd done the deed. Kind of funny that now we do it on a dance floor in front of everyone, eh? This is, actually, one of the oldest surviving wedding customs, though it's debatable whether or not it has actually survived.
Curious to read more about the origins of familiar wedding customs? Check out Bride & Groom for an even more in depth peek at the roots of some of our most popular wedding traditions.