The history behind common Western wedding traditions

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With wedding season right around the corner, I began to ask myself where some common wedding traditions came from. Some, I might have been able to guess before doing more research, but some were of complete surprise to me. Take a look at some of the history behind Western wedding traditions, and let us know in the comments which ones surprised you most.

The Bouquet

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The carrying of a bridal bouquet, dating back to the Roman period, did not originally include flowers at all. Traditional bouquets consisted of strong-smelling herbs, and spices to ward off evil spirits. It was believed that the strong odor of the bouquet was enough to banish troubled spirits and ensure a life of happiness and peace for the newlywed couple. Grains added to the bouquet mix were seen as a symbol of fortune, fertility, and prosperity.


Although the tradition has evolved into a group of women who tend to the bride on her big day, traditionally bridesmaids bore a far deeper burden at the altar. You’ll likely notice that evil spirits were a big concern in early Western weddings. It was believed that evil spirits would stop at nothing to prey upon weddings and brides. As such, bridesmaids wore similar attire to the bride to confuse any such spirits and steer them away from the newlywed.