The Wedding Ring: A Universal Token of Love with a Tremendous History

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Aside from the gorgeous wedding gown and the breathtaking reception venue, at the core of every wedding day lie a variety of cultural traditions that make each and every wedding ceremony and reception as unique as the couple themselves. There is however one undeniable common denominator to the millions of wedding ceremonies that take place all around the world. It is the most recognized symbol of love that a couple cherishes and keeps long after their wedding day. They wear it with pride and it is a constant reminder of their love and commitment to each other.

The global common denominator that transcends cultural and religious differences is the wedding ring. So how did something as small as a wedding ring come to mean so much? Well, it happens to be a piece of jewelry with a tremendously rich and long history. A history that began in the deserts of North Africa with the ancient Egyptian civilization.

At the time, the ancient Egyptian civilization developed along the luscious flood plains of the Nile River. To the Pharaoh’s people, the river was a source of great fortune and life. In fact, the very first wedding rings were fashioned from plants growing along its banks. Growing alongside the ever-popular papyrus were sedges and reeds that were twisted and braided into rings for fingers.

For Egyptians and many ancient cultures, the ring of course is a circle and the circle was a symbol of eternity. Just like time, it has no beginning and no end; and much like life, it returned to itself. The shape was also worshipped in the form of the Sun and the Moon. Even the empty center of the ring held great meaning: It is the symbol of the gateway leading to events both known and unknown. This is precisely how the ring began to be associated with love in hopes that this great emotion would take on the characteristics of the circle and be captured for eternity.

The ancient Egyptians wore the ring just like we do today, on the third finger of the left hand. They believed that particular finger has a vein that connects directly to the heart. The Greek later took on this legend when Alexander the Great conquered Egypt. The Greek then passed it on to the Romans who called it the ‘vena amoris’, which is Latin for the ‘vein of love’.

These early rings lasted about one year before wear and tear took their toll. It wasn’t long before some decided that they wanted longer lasting material like leather, bone or ivory to craft their token of love.

To this day, the wedding ring is a universal token of love that, as history dictates, was born with the start of civilization. Just like the emotion it represents, the wedding ring and its significance continue to stand the test of time.

Do you have a favourite Wedding Tradition? Please share below! We’d love to hear it!

The Origins of Wedding Traditions

Have you ever wondered where all our beloved wedding rituals began? The origins of some of the things we typically implement into our weddings are quite surprising and not as romantic as you might think, including the wedding itself.

The Wedding: There’s a lot of history here and most of it has nothing to do with love nor can it be covered in one paragraph. Here is a very small snippet based on ancient Greek and ancient Roman beliefs and customs. In the ancient world weddings were primarily focused on the father, or if the father was deceased, the nearest male relative arranging the marriage of a daughter to a worthy male. This was either a close extended family member or a family who provided an appropriate dowry. The actual marriage itself was the contract signing of the trade. It was usually a very sad day for the Bride as it meant she was now the property of her husband and his family. Throughout history, it was common that the act of marriage was contractual and the Bride, usually of a very young teen age was seen as property. As the centuries progressed, suitors and fighting for the lady’s hand in marriage became the romanticism that has evolved us to where we are today.

The Origins of Wedding Traditions ::

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The White Wedding Dress:Contrary to popular belief and what the Bride’s parents would like to believe, the white dress has nothing to do with purity or virginity. In fact, old Christians actually used blue to symbolize purity as it depicted the Virgin Mary. The norm for wedding dresses was actually wearing your Sunday best. Although Red was a popular choice, any colour was acceptable. That is if you were of middle class or below. As far back as the 1500’s, only royal family members and the upper class would wear white. It was a symbol of your place in society, especially in England and in France, despite it being a colour of mourning in France. Since white fabric was so expensive to buy due to its difficulty to clean, it would be something that would only be worn once which in turn translated to your aristocratic stature. The White Wedding Dress as we know it today, became popular and mainstream only after Queen Victoria’s Marriage to Albert of Saxe-Coburg in 1840.

The Origins of Wedding Traditions ::

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The Bouquet:Believe it or not, the bouquet used to be just a few herbs and garlic. There are two schools of thought for this and it’s likely that both are factual: One, that the smell would ward of evil spirits; and two that the very potent-fragranced bouquet would cover up the stench of ‘death’ back in the dark days of the Plague. It was later that flowers started to be selected for their meanings and symbolism and now simply because the couple has a preferred floral design in mind.

The Bridesmaids and Bridesmaid Dresses: Back in Ancient times, Bridesmaids were used to ward off evil spirits. In fact, they would all wear a similar, if not the same dress as the Bride including veils so as to confuse the evil spirits into not being able to detect whom the Bride was. Nowadays, of course, Bridesmaids are our best friends, cousins and even sisters for moral support and to showcase their importance in the couple’s life.

Although this post is not our typical Inspirational Monday post, it is important to know where our rituals stem from, and even more importantly how far we’ve come. Most of us marry for love and wanting to build a life with our true love; We select our dress based on what we like, not being able to afford a specific colour; We don’t need to carry around garlic in our bouquet’s as we walk down the aisle, in fact, we don’t even have to carry flowers if we don’t want to; and the Bridal Party does not have to dress like the Bride, although wearing the same colour is a trend that has made a comeback.

There is a ton more wedding history that we will cover in a future post, what wedding traditions do you want to know the origin of?