FOOD AND WINE:
The reception is the official celebration of the new couple. The wedding cake represents the sharing of the bride and groom’s body to become one. The drinking of wine symbolises the sharing of the bride and groom’s life together with God.
A wedding just would not be complete without fertility symbols, like the wedding cake. Ancient Romans would bake a cake made of wheat or barley and break it over the bride’s head as a symbol of her fertility. It became tradition to pile up several small cakes, one on top of the other, as high as they could, and the bride and groom would kiss over the tower and try not to knock it down. If they were successful, it meant a lifetime of prosperity. During the reign of King Charles II of England, it became customary to turn this cake into an enjoyably edible palace, iced with white sugar.
FIRST ON THE DANCE FLOOR:
At the evening celebrations, the bride and groom traditionally dance first on their own to a waltz. However, as ballroom dancing is not so popular these days, the newlyweds usually dance to a favourite romantic song. During the playing of this song, it is traditional for the couple to dance the complete song alone. After the first dance, the bride and her father or brother dance followed by the groom and his mother.
SIGNING OF THE GUEST BOOK:
The signing of the marriage certificate documents a public record of the marriage. The guest book was a record of all people who witnessed the wedding. For that reason, the guest book is supposed to be signed following the official wedding ceremony.
THROWING OF THE GARTER BELT:
This ritual dates back to a time when woman wore hose with a garter belt. It was a chance for the single men to share in the good fortune of the groom. Today, it is believed that the man who catches the garter when it is thrown will be the next to marry. In the 14th century, is was customary for the bride to toss her garter to the men, but sometimes the men got too drunk, and would become impatient and try to take the garter off her ahead of time. It became less trouble for her just to toss the bridal bouquet.
FLOWERS AND THE THROWING OF THE BOUQUET
Flowers were incorporated into the ceremony because they represent fertility, purity, new life and never ending love. Traditionally, bouquets were a mixture of flowers and herbs. Dill was a very popular choice as an herb because it was believed to promote lust. Following the ceremony, the dill was eaten for that purpose.
Tossing of the bridal bouquet is a custom which has it’s roots in England. It was believed that the bride could pass along good fortune to others. In order to obtain this fortune, spectators would try to tear away pieces of the bride’s clothing and flowers. In an attempt to get away, the bride would toss her bouquet into the crowd. Tradition says that the single woman who catches the bouquet is the one who receives the bride’s fortune and will marry next.
THE GRAND EXIT AFTER THE RECEPTION:
Traditionally, old shoes were tied to the back of the car to represent the transfer of property from the father of the bride to the groom. Horn honking, the shooting of firecrackers and ringing of bells were a means to protect the bride by warding off evil spirits.
THROWING OF RICE / FLOWERS:
When thrown as the couple exited the church, throwing of rice and flowers represented the wish for the couple to have a fruitful and plentiful life together. Originally, rice and wheat were thrown over the married couple to represent the hope for fertility.
When rose pedals are thrown before the bride as she walks down the aisle, it is to ward-off evil spirits below the ground and grant fertility.
Throwing confetti over newly weds originated from the ancient Pagan rite of showering the happy couple with grain to wish upon them a ‘fruitful’ union. Pagans believed that the fertility of the seeds would be transferred to the couple on whom they fell. The throwing of rice has the same symbolic meaning.
The word confetti has the same root as the word confectionery in Italian and was used to describe ‘sweetmeats’ that is, grain and nuts coated in sugar that were thrown over newly weds for the same Pagan reason. In recent years, small pieces of coloured paper have replaced sweetmeats, grain and nuts as an inexpensive substitute but the use of the word confetti has remained.
Wedding favours are mementos of the special occasion given to each wedding guest to thank them for sharing the momentous occasion with the bride and groom.