The wedding ring. An ancient Germanic superstition, older than recorded history, held that a bride’s finger would fall off on the wedding night if not bound with iron. Gold or silver is now usually substituted for the traditional iron, but the meaning of the gesture is the same.

Throwing shoes. In the days when brides were commonly obtained by abduction from neighboring tribes, it was natural for the relatives of the bride to make use of whatever projectiles came to hand, or to foot, if one may use the expression.

Bridesmaids. These were originally members of the bride’s bodyguard, and still retain the custom of dressing in uniform.

Throwing the garter. Originally the garter held a concealed dagger; with the disappearance of that traditional accessory, the garter itself had to be thrown, and the supposed meaning of the tradition underwent a subtle change.

Tossing rice. Rice began to be substituted in the nineteenth century for the more traditional, but more expensive, buckshot.

Honeymoon. The wedding trip or honeymoon vacation originated in the custom of running like blazes as far as possible away from the angry mob of the bride’s relatives.



  1. Clay Potts says:

    The Shotgun. In the American frontier, where reliance on the shotgun for the hunting of wild game to feed, and for the protection of, one’s family was vital, it was often the custom for the father of the bride to stand behind the bride and groom at the altar holding a shotgun, to serve as a symbolic reminder of the consequences of virility, and of the father’s passing on the responsibility of providing for his daughter to the groom. In my own family, as in so many, this practice was so deeply entrenched as to be observed in the marriage ceremonies of each of my seven sisters.

  2. Dear Dr. Boli,

    I have a lovely Pekinese dog who worships me, or seems to. He often pays close attention to me when I’m talking to him. I think he’s very intelligent. Do you really think he understands what I say? Since I’m such a big fan of yours, I named him “Irving”, short for Mr. Vanderblock-Wheedle.

    Astonished in Aspinwall

  3. Don’t forget the “bridal shower,” that pre-wedding ceremony in which the bride elect in showered with horse bridals.

    Jeffery Hodges

    * * *

  4. C. Simon says:

    The Vow is another widely popular wedding custom with superstitious origins. The superstitious used to believe that the vow actually worked.

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