Wedding Symbolism

Wedding Symbolism


Is there symbolism in weddings? Of course there is.  We all know the wedding ring is round because it has no end like a couple’s love for each other.  But what other symbolism is there?  Let’s take a look at some of the lesser known history behind the traditions.


The bridal bouquet

Women have been adorned with flowers for centuries, but it wasn’t until the famous medieval poet John Gower planned portions of his wedding that red roses and babies’ breath became popular. As a poet, Gower found symbolism and dualities throughout his life and laced these themes into his writings, and his wedding.

Old letters suggest John Gower selected red roses for his beloved’s bouquet because roses were a flower cherished by royalty and his wife was to be his queen. The color red, even in the darker medieval times of Gower, was associated with both hearts and love.


The Babies’ breath was an interesting addition. The roses were nestled around the many smaller flowers just has John and his wife would be surrounded by many small children.  In those days, it was common for couples to have many kids, knowing many may not see adulthood do to sickness.  Today, if a groom hinted about a lot of children on the horizon he would get more than one wink and a smile from the wedding party.


Wedding Cakes

The wedding cake is a relatively new tradition dating back a mere 200 years or so.

Pies were considered the choice of Europeans for most occasions. The idea of the wedding cake was first introduced in France.  It was considered quite decadent because a cake needed decorating while a pie was simply served.  Even then the cake had several layers as a symbol of the couples growing lives together.  White icing was the obvious choice as yet another symbol of the bride’s innocence.


Early Departure

Until recently it was a common tradition for a couple to have a formal departure from their wedding reception before their guests were finished celebrating. Friends and family would see the couple off as they start their new lives together in wagons and carriages decorated with flowers and bells.

In the 50s Americans with automobiles still made their formal departures, but their friends would tie tin cans to the bumpers in place of bells. Bells didn’t make much noise compared to the roar of an engine and cans banging on the pavement.


First Dance/Father Daughter Dance

H29While the origins of this tradition are a bit shaky the father/daughter dance and the bride and grooms first dance are steeped in symbolism.

Originally the father/daughter dance came before the first dance. The reception was part of the bride’s dowry and many fathers demanded a final dance before giving their daughters to a new family who were often complete strangers with arranged marriages.  The bride and groom would then have their first dance much like the father walking down the aisle and giving his daughter to the groom.




I hope you enjoyed this blog. Some of the information might actually be true. But we make no claims of truth to anything you have read in this post.

We are sixteen years into the new millennium.  Now we make our own traditions.  We copy those from our families and borrow some from other cultures.

Enjoy your wedding and make it uniquely your own.

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