As many of you know, Women’s Day started in the early 90s, as a movement when women wanted to speak up for their rights. It was a very strong and impactful movement. But in my mind, when I was younger, it was just a fun and joyful, spring-feeling holiday, with lots of flowers! In Hungary on this day boys would bring flowers to the girls at school. It was little bit like Valentine’s Day in America… When you are expected, but not required, to bring presents to everybody in class. Same way the boys had to bring flowers to all of the girls.
In many parts of the World there’s still a lot of inequality, where women are still fighting for their rights. So I wanted to raise a little awareness about where we stand in the World as women. To celebrate us, who need to juggle between motherhood, running the household, having a happy marriage, finding our carrier and passion, feeling accomplished in our life, and finding our place in this world. Knowing what we can do, and what we’re capable of achieving.
Since I often talk about weddings, I thought this would be fun topic. To discover some wedding tradition origins that positioned women and the bride in a specific way. What did they have to do, and what were they not allowed to do?
Some of these traditions are so old, that they aren’t part of our weddings anymore. But then there are some traditions that got modified to a more sentimental, romantic meaning. Not so evil, like it used to be originally.
Knowing these traditions will let you decide if you want to keep them or not. Maybe you’ll just have a good laugh out of this and incorporate them anyway. Because really, weddings are all about celebrating and having fun. I don’t think we should take these too seriously, but it’s good to know where are these traditions coming from.
I’ve already talked about a couple of wedding planning topics that are expected from a specific gender in our society. For example the ‘Proposal traditions’, where men are expected to proposes to the women. Or I wrote about ‘Name changing after your marriage’ which is something that’s required from the woman in most countries.
Women really did not have much to say about the wedding day. Most often not even to choose their husband, let alone planning the whole wedding. The girl was owned by her father, and when it was time to get married, it was a transaction between father and husband. That’s where the tradition of handing over the bride comes from.
Today we do that more to honor our father. It carries a sentimental meaning as you say goodbye to your old life. So don’t panic if you didn’t know about this origin, or if you feel horrible wanting to have your father walk you down the aisle.
In many cultures the bride would wear white dress, and a veil over her face to hide. They would even cover her whole body to symbolize her modesty and untoucheness. But the true reason for covering her was so in these arranged marriages the husband couldn’t see who he’s marrying. Which is crazy!
For the same reason the first look was happening at the actual ceremony.
These days ‘first looks’ before the ceremony are really popular. I think they originated from photographers, who wanted you to see each other before the ceremony and have some good pictures of it. At the same time, seeing the bride before the wedding was considered a bad luck.
In the old tradition bridesmaids would wear the same dress as the bride, because people believed that this way they would confuse the evil spirits, who then wouldn’t know which one is actually the bride.
In most weddings it’s usually the men, (father or husband) who speaks up to give a toast after the ceremony. This comes from when women were not allowed to speak up.
The groom would pick up and carry the bride over the entrance, because they believed that with the bride’s feet the evil spirit would slip into their new house. So that’s why he had to lift up his wife.
This tradition comes from the times when the husband would take away the bride for months, hiding her from the family. Most often the wife wasn’t allowed to come out until she got pregnant.
In the American tradition brides would borrow something old to wear on them during the wedding, as a good luck. These days it’s usually grandma’s jewelry or something like that. But long time ago the bride would have to wear an another woman’s underwear, who already had children. Well, to bring good luck for fertility. So that’s also a little bit creepy, I would say!
Since the bride was considered lucky on her wedding day, all the guests would want to get some of that luck by tearing a piece of her dress off. To distract the attacking guests, she would throw the bouquet it the crowd.
The garter toss originated from when the couple would have a ‘bedding ceremony’, right after saying the vows. They had some witnesses who watched them too. The husband, to show their successfulness, had to throw the wife’s undergarment in the crowd. Creeeeepy!
Don’t freak out, if you’re planning to have a garter toss! I know that these days lots of brides are trying to shy away from this tradition for that reason. But if you find it fun and entertaining, then why not?! Now days it’s all about having fun with the people you’re celebrating with.
All of these traditions used to be long time ago. And if you as a woman and a bride feel like you want to wear a veil (not because your husband never saw you before), or you want to have a bouquet (not because you smell bad), or you want your dad to hand you over to your husband (it’s not a transaction anymore), or for any other reason… If you want to follow the tradition, do it! My goal is not to discourage you.
In Hungary we also have some traditions specific to the bride. One of them is wearing a red dress after midnight (yes, we celebrate until sunrise). The other one is stealing the bride during the reception. Groom then would have to find her and pay as an exchange.
It was interesting for me to think about how these traditions play out when there isn’t any specific gender role. In same-sex marriages, when there are two brides getting married, what are some of these old traditions that are not applicable? For example the veil or bouquet is doable, that’s easy. But then there are some rituals that come from man owning the women, or man being in control of everything. So it’s really interesting to look into wedding tradition origins when there is no man getting involved.
These traditions go back for so long, and most of them have a pretty weird, creepy and twisted origin. Especially the way they treated women, and the kind of things brides had to do. But in modern days if you don’t do these traditions, if you modify them, or leave something out, then you’re wedding automatically becomes non-traditional. So it’s really interesting how we are treating these traditions in our life. Isn’t it?! Throughout everything! In one way we’re trying to be very traditional, but in other ways we’re finding different alternatives. Without really thinking about the true meaning behind it. Without considering if it’s just an outdated heritage, or something that we modified for our own enjoyment and convenience.
Let’s jump back to our modern age, and talk about what is the woman’s role in the wedding planning today. With all the media and society there is so much pressure on women when it comes wedding planning.
After you get engaged, it feels like everybody is asking you million questions. All of a sudden you need to make tons of decisions. Timelines, to dos, what to buy, how much money to spend, which vendors to pick… And the reality is, your fiance, your groom is not expected to play any role in the wedding planning. So I would want to encourage you to have this conversation with your partner. How could the two of you divide the tasks. Make sure that both of you are equally involved.
Marriage is about two people. You and your partner have to work the same way on your marriage, on your relationship, as a parent, as a homeowner. Pretty much on anything in your life. You’ll have to make decisions together. So do the same for your wedding planning. It’s good practice to accomplish something together, before starting your life together.
Don’t let traditions be in charge. Don’t feel like everything that needs to be done has to lay on your shoulders. Let your groom be involved! Everything is pretty much doable as a team, right? That’s how you should start your marriage anyway!
Beside these crazy wedding traditions and wedding roles, our planning gets even more complicated. When we have to blend multiple traditions together. (And I know there are many cultural traditions that I didn’t talk about here.) But I think a good way to start is to rethink what these traditions truly represent. Where do they come from, and why are we doing them? After that, you can decide if you want to implement it into your wedding or not.
Is there a tradition that comes from your partner’s side that you are unfamiliar with? Is there something that you want to implement, want to honor? Maybe a heritage you don’t want to be associated with. If you just think it’s something that sounds pretty fun and enjoyable to do, and you don’t care where it comes from, then that’s fine too! You do you!
Although I was born in Serbia, graduated in Italy and have been living overseas for 14+ years, I'm very proud of my Hungarian heritage.
I love documenting my life adventures, trying out healthy recipes and herbal remedies, or going on family trips in our new home, Canada.