09/13/2012 05:29 pm ET Updated Nov 13, 2012

Wedding Traditions

"Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue." Sound familiar? Although this is a popular saying that 99 percent of brides know about, a majority of them are unaware of the backstory behind this phrase. Wedding traditions such as this one date back to hundreds and hundreds of years ago, and fascinatingly enough are still very much alive.

Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue
Each item in this phrase represents a good-luck symbol for the bride. It is believed that if she incorporates all of them into her special day, she will have luck and prosperity on her side. "Something old" represents continuity with the bride's family and the past. "Something new" symbolizes the beginning of the bride's new life and signifies hopefulness and optimism for the future. "Something borrowed" is usually an item from a happily married friend or family member, whose good fortune in marriage is supposed to carry over to the new bride. Lastly, there is "Something Blue," which has been linked to Ancient Rome. Brides during this time wore blue to symbolize love, humility, and faithfulness.

The Marriage License
The history of the marriage license dates back to ancient Rome. During this period of time, a bride and groom did not need to fill out any paperwork to make their wedding official. The matrimonial kiss was a contractual agreement and not a romantic gesture.

Ring Bearer and Ring Pillow
For centuries, ceremonial pillows have been used for all occasions of great significance. They have carried the king's crown during his coronation, the ceremonial sword during the Knighting and even Cinderella's slipper, while the Prince searched for his Princess. The ceremonial pillow has always carried an item that symbolizes a great change in our lives -- the kind of change that we dream about when we lay our heads down to sleep. When the ring bearer walks up the aisle with the pillow, he not only holds the rings, but also the promise of all your dreams fulfilled. The reason a child carries the rings is that youth represents innocence, the future and new beginnings.

The White Wedding Dress and Bridal Party Attire
Wedding gowns have not always been elaborate or white. Bridesmaids wore dresses very much like the bride's (and the ushers and best man dressed like the groom). This was done to confuse evil spirits or anyone who meant harm to the bride and groom. By dressing in unison, it helped to protect the bride from being kidnapped. White came into the picture when Queen Victoria wed Prince Albert in 1840. She had more influence on weddings than any other monarch and set the trend for the white gown. Though brides continued to wed in gowns of different colors, depending on the circumstance, white was the color of choice and has remained so today.

Legend has it that many years ago in Holland, a young girl gave her heart to a poor but well-liked miller. Her father did not approve and refused to give her the dowry. Word spread throughout the small town and the townsfolk decided to pool their resources. In a procession, they came to her, each one offering a modest gift for her new home. In the end, the young woman and her beloved miller had more than the father could have ever provided. This kind gesture has become today's modern bridal shower.

In England, the gin that was drunk was so oily that a piece of toast was placed on top to absorb the oil. The term "raise a toast to you" came to be, because you would literally raise a piece of toast in your drink to honor the person.

The Bouquet
The bouquet from centuries ago was traditionally made up of scented bunches of garlic, fruit blossoms, and herbs. The bride would carry a bundle of these items to ward off evil spirits and impurities. Over the years, the herbs and grains were replaced by flowers, because it represented a sign of happiness and helped promote fertility.

Bouquet Toss
In ancient times, it was believed that a bride was especially lucky on her wedding day. Guests (especially women who were single) would sometimes tear at her dress so they could take this "good-luck keepsake" home with them. The bride's tossing of her bouquet grew from her wish to offer a good luck souvenir to guests, but mainly to help avoid her dress from being torn.

Giving Away the Bride
This tradition has its roots in the days of arranged marriages. Daughters were considered their father's property. It was the father's right to give his child to the groom, usually for a price. Today, it is more of a symbol of the father giving his blessing and approval for the marriage.

The Ring Finger
All wedding and engagement rings are worn on the fourth finger of the left hand. The vein in this finger was once believed (by ancient Romans and Egyptians) to go directly to the heart.