1. Wedding Cake
Yum! Who doesn’t love a nice chunk of wedding cake? Especially modern flavours like flourless orange or white chocolate mud. Delish! But apparently wedding cakes weren’t always cake. Lore has it that in medieval times they were constructed from buns or rolls—said to be the origin of the French croquembouche. Yep, before fruit cakes pasted in almond icing and adorned with white icing flowers, cakes were more ‘bready’. And speaking of bread, apparently the Romans used to break bread over a bride’s head to bring good fortune and fertility. Another fun tradition was to bury a charm or ring inside a cake and whoever found the charm (without choking on it) was said to be the next person to marry—similar to the tradition of catching the bride’s bouquet. Try putting a piece of wedding cake under your pillow—apparently you’ll dream of your future husband or wife. Brave enough to try it?
2. The Bachelor Party
Also known as a ‘stag’ or ‘bucks’ party, popular belief has it that this tradition began in Sparta in Ancient Greece and involved much revelry in celebrating a young man’s passage into married life. Today the tradition holds much the same meaning—although some refer to it as a groom’s ‘last taste of freedom’. Though it’s common for groomsmen to create legendary tales, such as a groom being stripped naked and tied to a fence, occurrences such as these are usually fabricated for hilarity. These days, although the boys can still get as boisterous as their Roman counterparts, they’re more likely to organise a celebratory dinner at a boutique brewery or night out at a Go Kart arena. It’s also becoming popular for the bride and groom to share their buck’s and hen’s night—one less thing to organise.
Don’t you love arriving at a wedding reception to find a little personal pressie waiting at your table? Also known as wedding favours, these gifts are a way for the bride and groom to say thank you and share the blessing of their day with you. While these days it’s common to have anything from personalised chocolates (love love!) to lolly jars or candles, originally it was traditional to provide guests with a gift of five sugar-coated almonds: one each for happiness, health, wealth, fertility and longevity. Looking a little deeper, eggs have always been associated with fertility and new life, equating to the beginning of a new relationship and the hope for a family. The hardness of the coating depicted an enduring marriage and the sugar, a wish for a sweet life ahead. Awwww.
4. Wedding Flowers
Ah, they’re just gorgeous, aren’t they? Big fresh bouquets of roses, tulips or orchids? What about a trailing arrangement of frangipani? Love that tropical look! But did you know before these colourful bouquets came about, brides would often carry aromatic bouquets made of herbs such as rosemary for remembrance, lavender for devotion, sage for longevity or thyme for courage. Even garlic made an appearance and was thought to ward off evil spirits. Grains such as wheat were sometimes woven into these herb bouquets or garland headpieces to represent fertility. Just like the meanings behind the herbs, flowers can have special meanings too: white roses stand for purity, orchids mean delicate beauty, and yellow tulips stand for being hopeless in love. In some countries such as India, or in the South Pacific Islands, both brides and grooms wear elaborate flower arrangements around their necks or through their hair instead of carrying a bouquet. I like it—two free hands for champers!