Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Origins And Legends

Many of our modern popular wedding traditions have their origin in times past. Here's a sampling.

The Bridal Shower tradition has its roots in the 1800's. The story is told of poor a miller who fell in love with a wealthy maiden. But, the father of the maiden was against the marriage. He refused to provide a dowry for her, and a bride could not marry without a dowry. The story goes that the bride had generous friends who "showered" her with so many gifts, they could forego the missing dowry.

Why "something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue?" The "old" was usually a personal gift from mother to daughter, a symbolic piece of wisdom for married life. The "new" symbolized the new family being formed by the marriage. "Borrowing" is especially important since it is to come from a happily married woman, thereby lending the bride some of her own marital bliss. "Blue" has two traditions, ancient Roman maidens wore blue on the borders of their robes to denote love, fidelity and modesty, while Christians associate it with the purity of the Virgin Mary.

In very early days, fathers would offer daughters as peace offerings to warring tribes. Because of the hostility, the families were placed on opposite sides of the church so the ceremony could proceed without bloodshed. The ceremony united the two warring factions into one family, and the danger was resolved. Today, family members still sit on opposite sides.

Because the early Anglo Saxon groom often had to defend his bride from would-be kidnappers, she stood to his left, leaving his sword-arm free just in case. The "best" warrior in the tribe stood by the groom and was responsible for helping defend the bride, should the need arise. Thus we have the placement for the best man.

Ever wonder where the phrase "tie the knot" comes from? Supposedly this also goes back to early Roman times. The bride would wear a girdle that was tied in many knots, which the groom had the "duty" to untie. As a side note, this can also refer to the tying of the knot in Handfasting Ceremonies, which were usually done without the benefit of clergy.

In early times the bride had to be carried over the threshold because she was (or was pretending to be) reluctant to enter the bridal chamber. In those days, it was considered ladylike to be hesitant at this point. Another legend has it that the bride was carried over the threshold to protect her from any evil spirits which might be lingering there.

The term "Honeymoon" also originated centuries ago. It was the custom for couples to get married beneath a full moon. Then they would drink honey wine for thirty days in a row, to foster good luck. This created the term honeymoon.

The wedding cake originated from the ancient custom where a loaf of wheat bread was broken over the bride's head to symbolize hope for a fertile and fulfilling life. The guests ate the crumbs which were believed to offer good luck. The custom found it's way to England in the Middle Ages where guests would bring small cakes to a wedding and put them in one large pile. The bride and groom were expected to stand over the cakes and kiss.

Loud noises were said to drive away evil spirits, and during the ceremony the guests would make noises to keep the evil away. Today, it's traditional that the bridal party honk their car horns and drag rattling tin cans while leaving the ceremony.

Kathryn Lemmon, Wedding Zone Staff Writer

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Rehearsal Dinner Ideas

Traditionally, on the day before your wedding, the festivities get started with a rehearsal. Over time, this function has split into two separate events, a practice session along with a meal. The meal brings together close friends and family, generally the same people who attended the rehearsal, plus appropriate others.

Is a rehearsal of the ceremony really necessary?

Although a formal rehearsal of the ceremony is not required, most officiants will want to take a run through of the full program. Those included would be the bride and groom, their parents, the wedding party and any readers/singers. The officiant will give everyone their cues for the next day, so things will go smoothly. Knowing where to stand and what to do will ensure everyone is a fraction less nervous at the wedding.

What if we can't use the wedding site for the rehearsal?

Ideally, you should have the rehearsal at the wedding site. This can be especially valuable if there are young children in the wedding party. Sometimes however, the requirements of the site do not make a rehearsal feasible. A rehearsal can be done in someone's home, or in just about any large space.

What's the function of the rehearsal dinner?

After the rehearsal, everyone gathers for a celebration dinner, where the bride and groom are the center of attention. In this less-formal setting, family members meeting for the first time can mingle and get better acquainted. Unlike the Big Day, the bride and groom are under less pressure and have more time to talk with relatives in a relaxed fashion.

Once everyone has arrived and is seated, either the bride or groom should take a moment to welcome their guests with a few heartfelt words and thank them for attending.

Numerous toasts are usually part of the rehearsal dinner. If you need someone to start the toasts, the groom's father is a good choice.

Who should be invited to the dinner?

The rehearsal dinner guest list should include immediate family, (parents and siblings) wedding-party members and any spouses and significant others along with the parents of any child attendants. You should invite the officiant and his/her spouse to the dinner, unless it's a civil service. If you have out-of-town guests who have already arrived for the wedding, you can invite them to the dinner portion of the evening.

Who handles the costs of the dinner?

The groom's parents traditionally paid, but these days it can be hosted by anyone. No matter who hosts, be sure they are involved in the entire planning process.

Is it necessary to send formal invitations to the rehearsal dinner?

No, engraved invitations are not necessary, unless you're planning an event as big and formal as the wedding reception. For most couples, word-of-mouth or simple phone calls are fine.

When is the rehearsal dinner?

Often, this event is on the eve of the wedding, however it could be anytime during that day, as in morning, noon, or evening. The term "dinner" is used loosely.

Where should the dinner be held?

Where you hold the event will depend on the number of people you expect to attend and the costs involved. The options are wide open, from a casual barbecue in the backyard to a table for twenty-five at the local country club. Keep in mind, relaxation and chatting are high priorities at this event. The location should also be convenient for out-of-town guests, who may not be familiar with your city. Provide a detailed map if necessary.

Should I handout gifts during the dinner?

In addition to family members meeting each other, the dinner provides an excellent opportunity for the couple to hand out their attendant's thank-you gifts. Chances are, this setting will be much less hectic than the reception and can make the gift giving more personalized. The couple should present their parents or anyone else who was an important part of the wedding process, with a token of appreciation.

Kathryn Lemmon, Wedding Zone Staff Writer

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Floral Traditions And Trends 2012

Nothing quite captures the romance of a couple joining together in matrimony like the beauty and sensuous scents of nature's magnificent creations, flowers. But, more than just decoration, flowers set the tone and make a personal statement about the couple.

For centuries we have associated different flowers with the emotions which underscore the union of two souls - the rose has always symbolized the love between two individuals, for example. Blossoms and greenery have adorned churches, homes, gardens and parks, enhancing the backdrop where lovers wed.

But, the bridal bouquet remains the real focal point for the bride and the florist. Strict rules about bouquets have all but vanished, leaving brides free to design any sort of arrangement they prefer. Flowers are no longer limited to white or cream, although pale blossoms are often chosen because they fit the spirit of the occasion and don't draw attention from the bride. Fall weddings inspire even bolder palettes. For example, burgundy roses arranged with pale, peach-colored blooms make for a stunning and very romantic bouquet. Other color additions include a touch of blue or lavender. Lilacs and hydrangea are popular choices. Red roses and poinsettias remain popular for holiday weddings.

One recent trend has been to simply hand-tie a mass of like-colored roses with ribbon so they look graceful, yet unpretentious. This simple, elegant look has been extremely popular for the past several years and gives the bride more of a natural appearance, as if she just stepped from the garden.

Another new approach is a herb bouquet. An herb bouquet, which also contains flowers, might include a combination of sage, lemon balm, lavender, rosemary, orchids and twigs. It smells lovely and will make a wonderful keepsake.

Experts say the choice of your wedding bouquet depends a great deal on the style of your gown. For instance, a bride dressed in Victorian-inspired white lace might select an old-fashioned cluster of sweetheart roses and violets for the bouquet. On the other hand, a bride in a country-style gown might want a more casual profusion of wildflowers and daisies. The most traditional and formal bouquets, however, are usually all white. However, white bouquets can include a bit of fern or ivy for color. The bouquet size should also be in proportion to the bride. Too large an arrangement will overpower and clutter the look of the bride.

Florists advise against making a firm decision on flowers too early in the planning process. As the bride will probably attend weddings and get many ideas from wedding publications, it can be premature to select flowers a year in advance. Color schemes change and ideas change often over a year's time, which can lead to confusion. Four to six months prior to the wedding is usually a better time frame.

It's helpful to a florist if the brides bring in photos (or other visual aids) of the floral arrangements they like, as well as samples of dress fabrics of the bride and attendants.

Florists are now seeing a trend toward having flower decorations at all phases of a wedding, from the ceremony to the reception. Some florists will move flower arrangements from the ceremony sites to the reception sites, then rearrange existing displays into centerpieces or use them to embellish doors, tables, stages, or other areas.

Bridesmaids, mothers, the groom and groomsmen should all wear flower styles which match the theme of the wedding and the bridal bouquet. Bridesmaid flowers should not upstage the bride's ensemble, but it is recommended that the maid of honor have a larger bouquet with a distinct arrangement.

Most popular flowers are associated with a desirable quality. The list below includes some flowers and their special meaning.

Apple Blossoms - good fortune
Baby's Breath - pure heart
Bluebell - constancy
Blue Violet - faithfulness
Daffodil - joy
Gardenia - joy
Gladiolus - generosity
Iris - wisdom
Lily of the Valley - happiness
Magnolia - nobility
Orange Blossom - purity and fertility
Orchid - beauty
Rose - deep love
White Daisy - innocence

Kathryn Lemmon, Wedding Zone Staff Writer