Traditions from all around the world have merged in South Africa, resulting in varied and mixed ideas about the 'correct' approach. Today's open-minded attitude about who-pays-for-what and who-does-what allows for more freedom of choice and action.
The degree to which couples get involved in directing the wedding arrangements usually depends on factors such as age and financial independence. If you or your fiancé are still living at home, it's likely that your parents will play a pivotal financial and organisational role, while if you've been self-supporting for a few years you will probably want more autonomy in planning your special day. If the latter is the case, be prepared to take on some extra financial responsibility as well.
Marriage traditions - how and where they started.
The continuous circle of the RING symbolises never?ending love. The Egyptians believed that the vein running through the third finger of the left hand was connected directly to heart, identified by the Romans as the vena amoris or 'vein of love'. Archduke Maximilian of Austria introduced idea of the engagement ring in 1477 when he placed a diamond ring on the finger of Mary of Burgundy to prevent her father from arranging marriage to wealthier suitor.
- The ringing of wedding BELLS was supposed to drive out evil spirits.
- Symbolising submission, the wedding VEIL had its inception when the bride would stand beneath a canopy to signify being under the protection of her husband.
- Originating in Roman times, the wedding CAKE once consisted of biscuits broken over the bride's head as a symbol of plenty. Sharing the cake signified 'breaking of bread in kinship'. Fruitcake, with its rich ingredients such as raisins, cherries, almonds and spice, symbolises wealth and prosperity. The knife cutting the cake signified the new wife's readiness to accept her role as the keeper of her own household.
- Traditionally handed out at Greek and Italian weddings BONBONNIERES are usually sugared almonds. The bitter almond together with its sweet sugar coating represents the duality of life, while the egg shape symbolises fertility.
- The BRIDAL MARCH from Wagner's Lohengrin was made fashionable by the English princess, Louise.
- In 14th Century France the bride would toss the GARTER to unmarried guests to point out who was next to be married, while English women in the 17th and 18th centuries would give garters to their sweethearts as a token of faithfulness.
- The BOUQUET symbolised a bride's good fortune, which was passed to the maiden who caught it.
- WEDDING ATTIRE: 'Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue' is a medieval rhyme. 'Something old' is a link to the past, such as a garter from happily married woman. 'Something borrowed' refers to helpful friends and is usually a piece of gold representing the sun, the source of life, (according to superstition, this should be returned). 'Something blue' is a compliment to moon, protector of women, as well as symbolising loyalty; while 'something new' is the wedding gown itself, representing the bride's new life.
- The ancient French custom of TOASTING called for bread to be placed in a glass, with a good toaster draining the contents to get to this 'toast'. Whichever one of the bride or groom finished the wedding toast first was the ruler of the newly formed family.
- The BREAKING OF THE GLASS is a traditional element in the Jewish wedding ceremony, and symbolises the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem.
- An ancient symbol of fertility the HORSESHOE is said to be good luck, while FLOWERS signify fertility and joy.
- SHOWERING of the bridal couple to bless their union with fertility was originally with corn, in the Western tradition, or rice, according to Eastern (Hindu) tradition. The Victorians adopted the tradition of rice, and more modern times have seen the use of paper confetti, rose petals or even butterflies!
- Shoes are often part of the tradition of DECORATING THE CAR as they were once seen as representing authority, which was being transferred from father to husband.
- According to Roman custom, the woman took her husband's SURNAME.
Second weddings, particularly in the case of the widowed, tend to be quieter, less elaborate affairs than first marriages. Where one of the partners concerned is divorced, it is not possible to remarry in the Roman Catholic Church, unless the first marriage has been annulled. Other denominations allow remarriage if the minister concerned is satisfied that the request is sincere.