a glance into the spiritual significance of popular wedding traditions
These days, less and less people belong to a formal religion, and therefore less and less people get married in religious ceremonies. Because of this, the spiritual significance of many parts of the wedding ceremony are being forgotten.
Here are some spiritual traditions that surround weddings, what they mean, and how they can affect you and your wedding day.
The vast majority of brides in the west wear white on the wedding day, and the tradition (although barely a century old) has gained several connotations over the years. Before Victorian times, brides would marry in any color (although most avoided black and sometimes white because they were mourning colours). Queen Victoria’s choice to wear white in her 1840 wedding set a trend and soon it became standard for brides to wear white.
That said, just because the tradition of wearing white began as a fashion choice does not denigrate the spirituality many feel is now associated with the colour. Many brides hold the tradition of wearing white above reproach, even though it is in fact rather modern.
This is often tied to social mores as well. In the American south for example, wearing a white wedding gown when one is not a virgin is seen as slightly affronting and such brides often wear beige or another off-white colour. Additionally, although not related to the spiritual element, it is now also deemed to be a serious social faux pas to wear white as a guest at a wedding.
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While white is the ‘wedding’ colour in the western tradition, the same rule does not apply in the east. Generally, women wear red in Asian countries on their wedding day as red is often a colour associated with luck in Asian cultures. Although the practice is certainly not uniform across the diverse Asian cultures, it does have a status somewhat like that of wedding white in the west.
Ironically, white was not the traditional colour for women who wanted to show their piety and purity. Influenced by Catholic teachings on Marian devotions, blue was the original colour associated with virginity and purity in the Christian faith.
Modest dress for church
Strapless wedding dresses may now be the fashion, but they can be problematic for any bride who wishes to get married in a church. Both men and women must generally cover themselves before entering a church (with many also wearing hats to cover their head or hair).
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However, recent rules of etiquette have been relaxed (especially outside the catholic faith) meaning that it is generally more acceptable to have bare arms and shoulders in a church. This however often preludes weddings, and many priests and pastors will require brides to cover if they wish to get married in a church. The practice does however vary from place to place, so it is best to check before buying a dress.
Role of the Bridal Party
The spiritual role of the bridal party is now also an item that is forgotten even for religious brides. Although it is not an issue for brides of no faith, religious brides have traditional relied upon their bridal part not just to give help in ordering the wedding day but also to give spiritual advice concerning the wedding and married life.
There is also a slightly more comical side the the bridal party. Until Victorian times, the Roman tradition was followed; members of the bridal party dressed like the bride in order to confuse ‘evil spirits.’
In general, there are many spirituals traditions surrounding weddings that modern brides and grooms can be unaware of, and this often results in breaches of etiquette. Have fun reading up on the rules according to you or your partner’s faith, and see if there is anything you could incorporate if you want to give your wedding some more spiritual meaning.
Happy Wedding day!