Over the past fifty plus years that I have been alive I have had many occasions to watch friends and loved ones marry. There are more than a few things I have learned about weddings as a result of all this, but adhering to some of the most common traditions and superstitions associated with weddings are the most important. Why? Because it just so happens that many of those who chose to ignore these seemingly nonsensical and sometimes almost comical steps to get to the alter have often paid a high price for their disrespect of these long standing customs.
The Wedding Dress
We have all heard that it is bad luck for the groom to see bride in her wedding dress before the ceremony. The truth is that a longer standing tradition says that it is bad luck for the bride to wear the complete wedding outfit before the day that she takes her wedding vows. That is why you almost never see a bride trying on a wedding dress with her wedding shoes, veil and so on. A female college friend of mine knew a young girl who decided to ignore that tradition and display her complete wedding outfit to her bridal party for the purpose of having “some photos taken with her friends” the night before her wedding. So she said, most of those present think she was just showing off. The dress seemed unusually tight to some who saw the bride all decked out that night and soon gossiping tongues spread the news quickly.
The next day the groom decided not to show up for the ceremony after my college friend said that she called and told him that his bride looked “fat or pregnant” when she saw the bride in her outfit the night before. welkomstbord bruiloft My friend was not being mean, but she felt sorry for the groom who had gone out of his way to keep his bride pure (she had claimed to be a virgin) by abstaining from sex with her. He had never seen her in the wedding dress, but even his sister said that she noticed an unusually rapid weight gain in the bride who was not one known to fluctuate in her weight or overeat. There could have been a lot more to the story than that, but I have no doubt that the catalyst for the groom’s cancellation was that phone call from my friend and the call would never had been made if the bride had not been showing off and scoffing at a long-standing tradition.
The Wedding Shoes
Both bride and groom should know that the superstitious among us say it is unlucky to wear any shoes for the ceremony that are not to be used specifically and only for the wedding. They claim that it is also bad luck to wear the shoes before the day of the ceremony, or to ever wear them again after the bride and groom take their vows. The shoes should be ripped apart or burned sometime shortly after the ceremony and never given away to anyone else. This tradition began sometime in the late 1800s and probably came from merchants eager to sell shoes. However, there may be some truth to it.
A friend of mine reports that a neighborhood friend of his who got married about twenty years ago had some very bad luck as a result of ignoring this odd superstition. Ben was a thrifty guy who hated wasting money. Sometime in the year before he was married he had purchased an expensive pair of shoes to wear for weddings, funerals and other special occasions. When my friend went out with him to help choose an outfit for his own wedding, he asked Ben about shoes. Ben told him that he was going to wear his best pair of shoes because they had barely been worn and were like new. After all, even back then a new pair of quality shoes could easily cost over one hundred dollars and Ben felt that money would be better spent elsewhere.
My friend told Ben about the wedding tradition regarding shoes that he had heard about from his mother, father and grandparents. My friend took the advice himself, got married without incident and has remained married ever since. Admittedly, he and his family are very superstitious about things like weddings, but there have been few divorces in his family line and many successful weddings and marriages. Ben wore his “best pair of shoes” on the day of the wedding despite the warning he received from my friend. Amazingly, his bride had her own unique plan for wedding footwear. She decided to wear sneakers for the wedding as a kind of joke as to say that she might be a runaway bride. The joke backfired.