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71 old wedding superstitions, traditions & marriage myths that range from sweet to silly to sad

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old wedding superstitions, traditions & marriage myths
From guidelines about the bridal gown to the lucky tips to know about the cake, getting married would be a lot more complicated if you took too many old wedding superstitions to heart. (And you’ll also see that if you were looking for love, the requirements were similarly complex.)

For generations, even the non-superstitious have followed old traditions to bring good luck — such as making sure the bride was wearing the essential four: “Something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue.”

Here are more than seventy wedding superstitions — many of which date back hundreds of years, even though we are including them as they were reported during the first part of the 20th century. At the end of the article, we have also included a breakdown of what it means to marry in each month of the year.

So good luck out there, ladies and gents. May a pigeon land on your church, and don’t forget to wear orange blossoms.

Good luck or bad luck for your marriage? Wedding superstitions from years ago

Marriage, being an ancient institution which vitally affects the lives of men and women, it is not surprising that practically everything connected therewith has some superstitious belief or other associated with it.

There are many well-known wedding superstitions and traditions of old.

The majority of people believe that particular incidents, colors, days, flowers, etc. determine absolutely the weal or woe of the parties to a marriage. They avoid supposedly unlucky days for their weddings.

They take pains to arrange everything so as to assure conjugal happiness, and they worry themselves nearly to death it anything in connection with the ceremony takes an unpropitious turn.

Vintage bride from the 1920s thinking about wedding superstitions

29 wedding superstitions and good & bad luck symbols from 1921

1. If a bride marks her linen with the initials of her betrothed, it is commonly believed that she will never have occasion to use it as his wife.

2. It is regarded as very unlucky if her fiance sees her wearing any part of her trousseau before the day, or even the hour, set for the wedding ceremony.

3. Only bad luck can be expected, many believe, if the bride makes her own wedding dress, or if the making of the dress is begun before the day is named for the wedding.

4. Superstitious brides usually avoid velvet as a material for their wedding dresses, believing that it would be certain to bring them bad luck. Satin is favored because it is believed to assure good fortune.

5. If one holds a wedding dress in the hands for five minutes and makes a wish, the wish will “come true,” many believe.

6. Brides are happy if the first flower they behold on their wedding day is white, and unhappy if it is red. The white flower is supposed to augur happiness, and the red unhappiness and care during the married life.

7. If flowers are worn in the bride’s hair, uncovered by a veil, she will be sorry she married. To leave her bouquet in the church and then turn back for it is considered equally portentous.

8. The girl who finds or snatches a flower from a bride’s bouquet may expect an early marriage, while the one who dons a bridal veil or wreath in a spirit of fun will be an old maid, according to a popular belief.

9. If the bridegroom appears with his tie awry, it is a “sign” that he loves another girl; and if a raveling is found on his clothes, the supposition is that another woman loves him.

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10. Many are convinced that the bride should not bake the wedding cake herself if she desires to avoid bad luck.

11. She can be sure of good luck, they say, if she cuts the first slice of the cake.

12. Any accident to the cake gives warning that the bride will experience sorrow in her early married life.

13. If an unmarried girl carries a piece of wedding cake in her pocket during the honeymoon, she will become a bride before the dress is worn out, ’tis said.

14. To eat a piece of the cake that the bride has left on her plate will likewise bring an early marriage.

15. Girls often place wedding cake under their pillows, believing that they will then dream of their future husbands.

16. When the elder of the daughters of a family marries, a piece of her bridal cake must be left in the house, else, it is said, none of the other girls will marry.

17. A wedding ring, a thimble, a coin and a button are sometimes baked in a wedding cake. The understanding is that the person who gets a piece containing the ring will be the first to marry. The one who gets the thimble is doomed to be an old maid. The one who finds the coin may expect wealth, while the one to whom the button falls will be a bachelor.

18. It is considered unwise for either the bride or bridegroom to glance to right or left or to recognize anyone in going up the aisle of the church; the one who does will shortly go elsewhere for love.

Actress Vilma Banky in a wedding gown in the 1920s
Actress Vilma Banky in a wedding gown in the 1920s

19. If a pigeon alights on the church as the bridal pair enters the church, it portends good luck.

20. If the officiating minister makes a mistake, it is taken as an indication that someone present is opposed to the match.

21. If the bride forgets and signs her maiden name instead of her new name to the church register, bad luck and possibly separation will result, the superstitious say.

22. In some places, it is regarded as decidedly ominous if the minister misplaces his glasses when about to “tie the knot.” This is a “sign” that one of the contracting parties will not bear inspection.

23. To have a minister refuse for any reason to perform the marriage ceremony is very unlucky. He always must see the bride before he ties the knot.

24. Being married in a ruined church, some believe, will be certain to bring good luck.

25. Good luck may be further assured if the couple, immediately after the ceremony, run out of the church hand in hand.

26. In some countries, it is supposed that if the bride is the first to arise from the altar, she will be the first ever after to get up in the morning; while if the groom arises first that “honor” will forever be his.

27. The French believe that it will bring bad luck for a person older than the bride to precede her in entering the church.

28. The Spanish have an old custom of tying a silk sash fringed with gold about the necks of the bridal pair as they kneel before the altar. This, it is believed, will bring them good luck.

29. In Russia, the bride and groom run rapidly down the aisle after entering the church, the understanding being that the one who first reaches the altar will be “boss” of the household.


Bride and groom from 1916

42 more old wedding myths, superstitions & signs from 1918

1. Sprinkling the bride with wheat is a lucky sign. It takes the place of rice in some places. Both are considered emblems of fruitfulness.

2. In some countries, it is customary to throw money over the heads of the bride and groom as they come out of church — it ensures fortune.

3. Flinging the stocking was an old custom on the bridal eve. The young men took the bride’s stockings, and the girls those of the groom, and threw them over their heads. If they fell upon the bride or groom to whom they belonged, the thrower was sure to be married soon.

4. It is considered a sign of good luck if the bride does not walk into the groom’s house, but is lifted over the sill by her nearest relatives.

5. It is lucky for the bridesmaids to throw away a pin on the wedding day, and unlucky to be stuck with one.

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6. It is considered unlucky for a pair to be married in a church if there is an open grave in the churchyard.

7. It is unlucky to be married in green.

8. The wearing of orange blossoms at a wedding ensures good luck.

9. It was formerly considered unlucky if the bride did not weep at her wedding. It portended tears later on.

10. A storm with thunder and lightning is a bad omen during a wedding ceremony.

11. To marry a man whose name begins with the same letter as one’s own is sometimes considered unlucky.

MORE: Vintage wedding etiquette: What guests needed to know (1914)

12. If a younger daughter chances to get married before her older sisters, the older girls should dance at her wedding barefoot.

13. A clot of soot coming down a chimney at a wedding feast is a bad omen.

14. If the bride accidentally breaks a dish at the wedding feast, it is a bad sign.

15. A bird dying in his cage on the day after a wedding is a bad sign. A bird sitting on the window sill chirping is a good omen.

16. It is unlucky for a woman to read the marriage service entirely through. She will never get a husband.

17. Bees should be informed that a wedding is in progress and their hives decorated. It brings good luck.

18. If at the wedding dinner an unmarried person sits between the bride and groom, it means that there will soon be another wedding.

19. Marriages on the last day of the year are considered lucky.

20. June is a popular month for marriages among Americans and Europeans. Some authorities believe that June’s having the longest day of the year is symbolical of a long and happy marriage.

21. A wedding on St. Valentine’s Day or another popular holiday, indicates a happy union.

22. Being married during a thunderstorm is a sign of bad luck. If the sun shines right after a storm, the auspices are good for a happy union.

23. Getting married on Sunday is a sure sign of a fortunate union. Friday is a bad day on which to get married. Other days of the week are about equal in their effect upon the destinies of a married pair.

Bride and groom getting lucky by jumping through a wedding ring

24. A marriage during a heavy snowstorm is considered lucky; although the contracting parties may never be wealthy, they will be happy.

25. Bride cakes, or wedding cakes, are a survival of an ancient Roman custom. When a wedding was solemnized, the bride and groom ate a cake of wheat or barley in the presence of ten witnesses. The crumbs were carefully preserved by the unmarried women present to ensure their getting husbands.

26. Slices of cake passed through the bride’s wedding ring and eaten by the bridesmaids will bring a husband within a year.

27. A piece of wedding cake should be put under the pillow of a maiden and if she dreams of a man, she will marry him within a year.

28. In some countries, a plain gold ring is baked in the wedding cake, and the maiden who gets the slice with the ring will have the privilege of proposing to a man of her choice.

29. Bridesmaids date from Anglo-Saxon times. It was the bridesmaid’s duty to escort the bride to church, and it was believed that the girl on whom this honor fell would be married within a year.

30. A bridesmaid who stumbles on the way to the altar will die an old maid.

31. It is a custom for the groom to present his attendants with some gift as a souvenir of the occasion. This must be carefully preserved. If lost, the loser is apt to remain unmarried.

A bride at her wedding in 1913

32. A diamond engagement ring is especially lucky, as diamonds are considered the highest form of gift, and the sparkle is supposed to originate in the fires of love.

33. A pearl in a ring is unlucky, as pearls signify tears.

34. During the Commonwealth in England, the Puritans tried to abolish wedding rings as being a remnant of heathen practice.

MORE: Should older women marry younger men? (1914)

35. The ring, being round and without end, is a symbol of never-ending love and affection that should continue to flow in an uninterrupted circle.

36. If a wedding ring breaks, it is a sign of marital trouble.

37. A wedding ring that has been worn to a thin thread is lucky, and brings luck to the wearer’s children.

38. The wedding ring is usually worn on the fourth finger of the left hand. The probable reason is that the left hand is not used as much as the right, and the fourth finger is rarely used alone.

39. It was formerly believed that a special artery led from the heart to the fourth finger.

40. A wedding ring rubbed three times on the eye is supposed to be a cure for styes.

41. A wedding ring should be turned around three times if you want your wish to come true.

42. It is unlucky to take off your wedding ring except in cases of necessity.

Old traditions and wedding superstitions

Months and marriage: January, June or December – what does it mean? (1912)

Reader question: What is the significance attached to wedding superstitions and marriage in the several months of the year?

Married in January’s hoar and rime,
Widowed you’ll be before your prime.

Married in February’s sleepy weather,
Life you’ll tread in time together.

Married when March winds shrill and roar,
Your home will be on a distant shore.

Married beneath April’s changing skies,
A checkered path before you lies.

Married when bees over May blossoms flit,
Strangers around your board will sit.

Married in the month of roses — June,
Life will be one long honeymoon.

Married in July with flowers ablaze,
Bittersweet memories on after days.

Married in August’s heat and drowse,
Lover and friend in your chosen spouse.

Married in September’s golden glow,
Smooth and serene your life will go.

Married when leaves in October thin,
Toil and hardship for you gain.

Married in veils of November mist,
Fortune your wedding ring has kissed.

Married in days of December cheer,
Love’s star shines brighter from year to year.

Vintage wedding book - Something Old

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