In 2021, there are truly no ‘rules’ to weddings—anything and everything goes, as long as it brings you happiness as a couple. That said, there is a reason why time-honored traditions have been mainstays of wedding days for so long: They’re guidelines that so many generations before you have indulged, historically, so it feels kind of like a nice privilege to entertain them at your own wedding celebration, right?
The cool thing about weddings now, though, is that you can pick and choose which customs and conventions you want to embrace or dismiss. Not wearing white, skipping the veil, sneaking a peek at your spouse before the ceremony—it can all be done without repercussions.
Whether you consider yourself superstitious or not, you might still want to take a few of these folklore referrals to heart. Ahead, read up on some of the longest-standing wedding superstitions that go well beyond something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue.
Getting married on a weekday.
While Saturdays have long been the most popular days to get married for decades, an ancient Celtic poem claims couples should avoid a Saturday wedding at all costs. It reads: “Monday for wealth, Tuesday for health, Wednesday the best day of all, Thursday for losses, Friday for crosses, and Saturday no luck at all." So if a Saturday nuptials isn’t in the cards, then a weekday wedding is quite alright!
Wearing white on the day you get married is a dress code that dates back thousands of years and this verse explains why: “Married in white, you will have chosen all right. Married in grey, you will go far away. Married in black, you will wish yourself back. Married in red, you’ll wish yourself dead. Married in blue, you will always be true. Married in pearl, you’ll live in a whirl. Married in green, ashamed to be seen. Married in yellow, ashamed of the fellow. Married in brown, you’ll live out of town. Married in pink, your spirits will sink.”
Wearing something borrowed.
Out of the four "somethings" that brides have been conditioned to carry, "something borrowed" makes the most sense when it comes to luck! The idea here is that in addition to wearing something old and new, representing your pre-married life and your happy one to come, you should also borrow something from a happily married woman (your mom, mother-in-law, sister, grandmother, etc.). It’s thought that wearing something on loan from a long-married missus might just let some of her marital success rub off on you!
Forgoing any pearl accessories.
Speaking of something borrowed, although they’re very common family heirlooms, pearls are one semi-precious gemstone that you might want to pass on if they’re offered. According to several cultural belief systems, pearls embody the look of tears and point to sadness and suffering, so it’s best to keep them away from such an important day. If your partner proposes with a pearl, however, it stands that you can rebalance the karma by giving them a dollar—in essence, by paying for it, the ring is no longer a gift.
Including a sixpence in your shoe.
What most people don’t know about one of the oldest and most iconic wedding proverbs is that it is completed with the phrase "and a sixpence in her shoe." Dating back to Victorian times, a father would place a sixpence (a coin equivalent to six pennies) in his daughter’s shoe as a token of good luck and prosperity. Nowadays, a penny is usually subbed in for the sixpence from any family member or friend. And if you don't want to squeeze a coin in your stiletto, consider tying it to your bouquet or ring bearer's pillow instead.
Adding a veil to your ensemble.
Veils have been part of the bride’s traditional trousseau for centuries. But to ancient Greeks and Romans, the veil was for function rather than fashion. They believed that a bride needed to wear a veil to make her less susceptible to the curses and hexes of jealous witches and evil spirits who wanted to steal her happiness. Once her face was obscured, so too were their vexes.
Crying all the way to the altar.
You’d be hard-pressed to find a bride or groom who doesn’t shed at least a few tears on their wedding day, but that’s actually a good thing. In fact, crying all the tears is a tried-and-true method of making sure you’re happy for the long haul. Once you’ve let the waterworks run, they’ll be as good as gone for the entirety of your marriage.
Saying farewell to your fiancée-ship a little too prematurely.
Using your married name before the actual wedding is kind of taboo ahead of tying the knot. There are a lot of negative, foreboding feelings associated with these anticipatory celebrations (like signing letters with your soon-to-be last name), ultimately suggesting that doing so will prevent the event from taking place altogether. And it doesn’t stop there, folklore also warns against trying on everything you’ll be wearing on your wedding day (dress, veil, shoes, headpieces, jewelry) before the day itself comes. So, if you plan on dressing or suiting up pre-wedding, just remember to leave one or two articles of clothing off.
Crossing paths with a nun or monk on the way to the wedding.
The British backstory goes that if you see a nun or a monk (both of whom notably take vows of chastity and poverty) en route to your wedding, you’ll be blighted with a barren life and dependent on charity. Granted, not every couple envisions a future with children and some prefer simplicity and experiences over money and material things, so this does suppose a pretty antiquated point of view.
Dropping the rings.
There is a timeworn forewarning that should someone drop a ring or ring(s) at the time of the ceremony, that person (regardless of role—bride, groom, officiant, best man, etc.) is next to die. Scary, right? Well, we can pretty much guarantee that there’s no truth to it, but you might just want to double-check how tightly those rings are tied on the ring bearer’s pillow and take your time with the ring swap.
Receiving knives for a wedding gift.
We’re well aware that a sharp set of knives is a common registry item. However, according to a legend that dates back to the Vikings, knives symbolize the cutting or breaking of a relationship. You truly never know what your wedding guests will end up bringing you for the big day, but if you want to hedge your bets on not receiving something like this heartbreak-ridden hardware, maybe just remove it from the registry altogether. Or, send your guests a penny enclosed in their thank you card to switch the script from a gift to a purchase!
A spider showing up on your attire.
Most people don't enjoy spotting a spider, but if one shows up on your wedding outfit on the big day, just grin and bear it. English tradition holds that if a spider weaves its way into your wedding day, it’s a terrific and radiant omen; so, come through Charlotte!
Rain on your wedding day.
Rain on your wedding day is something that all couples will stress over, but according to several cultures’ canons, it represents a streak of luck for your special day. If you see dark clouds gathering and raindrops coming down, don’t fret as you’re getting wet: It symbolizes fertility and cleansing, and if ever there were a perfect day to start with a clean slate, it’s your wedding day.