Tag Archives: wedding traditions

Ring Fingers: Who’s Right…What’s Left?


In America, when we want to perform a perfunctory assessment of whether someone is married or not, we scope out the fourth finger on their left hand and check if there’s a ring situated there.  In essence, we are investigating if someone did indeed like it, and if they put a ring on it.  However, this tried and true method for seeing if you have a shot (romantically) with a particular individual may not play out so seamlessly in some other corners of the globe.  Why?  Because in some countries and cultures, the wedding/engagement ring is worn on the …wait for it… right finger.

Before delving into this , you may want to edify yourself on the general history of wedding rings, so you fully understand how far back and complicated the whole international betrothal ring routine is.


Ok, let’s start with the basics.  In many Western cultures, the ring is worn on the left hand because (according to legend) there is an artery that runs the course of your left arm and channels right into your heart.  Hence, once the ring is placed on that prized left digit, an unbreakable, eternal bond is forged between your heart and the person who placed the ring on that spiritually connective finger.  It’s quite the cute explanation.  So why doesn’t every country adopt this adorable practice?  Well, if we can take a break from unbridled nationalism for a moment, we can see that there are several important factors at play in other global territories.  Up until fairly recently, all Indian women wore their wedding rings on the right hand for one immutable reason; the left hand is viewed as “unclean.”  The right hand is used for fun and positive things, such as eating and squeezing a baby’s cheek; the left hand is used for cleansing oneself after using the restroom… So not the best location for an esteemed and symbolic piece of jewelry.  Another group that adheres to the right-ring-hand principle (for a somewhat similar reason) is the Greek Orthodox clan.  They keep with Roman rituals in many respects, and the relevant one here is that the left hand is considered to be evil or “sinister.”  In the Latin tongue, ‘sinis’ means left, and ‘dexter’ means right.  Ergo, the left hand and left-handed people were thought to be not so great; therefore there was no way anybody was putting a lovely ring on that dastardly hand.

Diamond-Lighthouse-selling-wedding-ring-Indian-henna Diamond-Lighthouse-selling-Greek-couple-just-married-bicycle

Other lands that go along with the right hand wedding band motif are some of the Nordic ones, including Denmark and Norway.  Perhaps they are just chilly there and prefer to keep their left hands in their pockets a lot, while the right one conducts all necessary functions of life (just a theory).  Moving a few kilometers east, the nations of Bulgaria, Poland and mother Russia still contain entire populations with right-hand-ring bearing peoples.  The actual explanation here is rooted in religion.  There are a few biblical references to The Lord telling people to put rings on their right hands – and eat yummy fatted calves, rejoice, etc., etc.  It appears the devout people of these places aren’t about to break this tradition anytime soon.


Finally, there are some wedding ring idiosyncracies that utilize a custom known as the ‘ole switcharoo.’  In sultry Brazil, both males and females wear engagement rings on their right hands.  Once they exchange vows – bam – they switch them over to the left.  In the opposite hemisphere, the Netherlands and Germany do the reverse; start with the left, switch to the right (keeping in accordance with the ‘cold left hand theory’…)  People of the Jewish faith perform a nifty switch too; the wedding ring is first placed on the index, or pointer finger,  because it is the most important.  Decorum has the wearer shift the ring over to the fourth finger, after the glass has been smashed and everyone has cheered ‘Mazal!’


While some people are strictly traditional, rigidly adhering to past customs, there will always be a rebellious sect, carving out a unique niche for themselves.  As cultures continue to mix and mash, time will tell what wedding ring habits will stay the course and which ones will fall by the wayside.  As we collectively revel in the past and explore new and exciting options, only one thing is truly for certain; your grandma wants you to settle down and stick a ring on one of those fingers, darnit.


-Joe Leone 

Royal Wedding Dresses and How they Changed the World

The wedding dress may be the most photographed dress a woman wears in her life, but a look at dresses over the decades show that the classically white gown has changed vastly. The role of the British Royal family in these trends cannot be overstated, as many highly attended and closely watched Royal Weddings received high accolades and chiseled their place into the history of fashion. Here’s a closer look at three of the most iconic royal wedding dresses of all time.

Kate Middleton, 2011



While Kate Middleton looked beautiful on her wedding day, part of the excitement surrounding her wedding dress was related to the kept mystery of its designer. On the day of, it was revealed to be created by the creative director of Alexander McQueen, Sarah Burton. Its nine-foot train and hand-cut flower designs on the bodice added to the intricate detail that was made to mimic the design of a flower opening. Burton also designed Pippa Middleton’s coordinated dress, which received a lot of attention on that day.

As anticipated, the Party Pieces heiress’s dress influenced fashions around the world, influences that are still very much in fashion. “The Kate Middleton effect” as “ladylike gowns with clean, simple lines.” The iconic characteristics of the dress include long, dramatic trains and veils, lace detailing, plunging V-necks, and long sleeves.

After the wedding, the dress was on display for a little over two months at Buckingham Palace, attracting a record number of visitors. During that time, replicas of the dress popped up all over the world.

Lady Diana Spencer, 1981

via en.wikipedia.org
via en.wikipedia.org

After a longstanding trend of more casual dresses with some women even getting married in business suits, Diana brought back the concept of a fairy tale wedding with her dress for her 1981 marriage. In the classic bigness of the ‘80s, the train on Diana’s dress put Kate’s to shame, measuring in at 25 feet. The dress, the design of which was called fashion’s “most closely guarded secret” at the time, featured sensationally poofy sleeves and a (very) full taffeta skirt. The “something old” on the dress was the antique lace detailing; the “something new” was spun silk, and the “something blue” of British tradition was a blue bow around the belt. The dress was designed by David and Elizabeth Emanuel, who had previously designed a blouse for Diana that was a favorite of hers.

Where is Diana’s dress today? After a decade of display in the museum at the Spencer family’s Northampton estate, Althorp, and then a long trip on the road in the charge of Diana’s brother, Charles Spencer, it is finally coming home to live with Prince William and Prince Harry, as was stipulated in Diana’s will. (source: People magazine)

Queen Victoria, 1840

via en.wikipedia.org
via en.wikipedia.org

175 years ago, Queen Victoria married Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha wearing white. That statement shouldn’t seem surprising, but at the time, it was essentially an unheard of choice. Even though Mary, Queen of Scots had also worn white, the style didn’t become a trend until Victoria did it. Prior to 1840, brides often wore colored dresses on their wedding days, with red being a particular favorite but other colors being widely accepted as well. One particularly iconic feature of the dress was the appliqued lace, which she described in her journal as “an imitation of an old design.”

Shortly after her wedding, the infamous Godey’s Lady’s Book described white as “custom… from the earliest ages,” while fashion magazines began saying white was the best choice for brides, citing its purity and elegance as fitting for the day and the change from girlhood to womanhood. (source: Wikipedia)


Let Them Eat Wedding Cake


A few weeks ago, we shared the backstory of six well-known wedding traditions, and some of them were pret-ty weird. Today, we’ve got some more traditional weirdness for you, this time, it revolves around that sweet, sticky stuff—cake—and is a little less scary for the girls.

The Wedding Cake & Its Related Activities

Wedding Cakes today are elaborate feats of baking and balance, costing an average of $466 in 2014. (What!? $466 for something that is just going to get cut to pieces and smashed into the newlywed’s faces, and then, possibly/probably, frozen? Yes.)

According to Mental Floss, the cake-in-the-face tradition was actually born before the tradition of a wedding cake itself, except it was done with bread. The groom would take a big ole bite of the bread, then hold the rest of whatever was left and break it over the bride’s head, letting the crumbs fall into her hair and face. Some sources say the couple would then eat a few of the crumbs together, but other sources make no mention of this unifying step. The crumbs that fell on the floor were scrambled after by the guests, who took them as a token of good luck.


Eventually, people started using a prettier and tastier baked good—cakes—to celebrate the newly betrothed, which forced change upon the crumby bread tradition. At first, sweet wheat cakes were used, and the guests and groom simply crumbled several of them over the bride’s head, essentially showering her in food. Since cakes are a bit harder to just pick up and nom on, the ceremonious breaking of bread morphed into a more civilized slicing of cake on a table. To hang on to the idea of offering crumbs to the guests who were apparently in desperate need of luck, the bride took off her ring and pushed tiny morsels of the cake to each person as they got to the front of the line. BUT! The guests were not to eat their precious morsels. Instead, they were to put it under their pillow for good luck. It all seems kinda messy, don’t you think?

The next generation realized that the passing cake through the ring was, honestly, quite weird and also very tedious, and guests got greedy and were given whole slices of cake. But! The whole tradition couldn’t go by the wayside—no, they put those whole slices of cake under their pillow at night. Sounds like Lady Luck has a good sense of humor.


Gastronomica.org reports that once the aforementioned crumbled wheat cakes were “used up” at French weddings, the guests took to throwing nuts and dried fruits at the couple. At the weddings of those who could afford it, sweetmeats (confectionaries) were “thrown about enthusiastically.” This tradition actually morphed into the rice-throwing tradition, which morphed into flower petal and bird seed throwing (since birds were eating the rice and dying because the rice kernel soaked up the liquid in their little bellies and expanded until, well…), which now is sometimes replaced with more photogenic sequin wands and glitter.

While throwing things in celebration went rogue, the cake tradition went its own way. When war forced cultures to mix, the British tradition of making a tall cake caught on (probably because it’s way more fun and less messy.) If the bride and groom could kiss over the tall cake, it indicated they would have a happy and lucky life together. Eventually, these towering sweet cakes brought about the beautifully expensive cakes that are custom today, and the bride and groom smash theirs on one another while the guests politely eat 70 percent of theirs.


But, one of those pieces gets left behind and is given a special spot in the freezer of the happy couple. Why? Well, because people are cheap and presumptuous. Back in the olden days, it was generally agreed that the bride would get knocked up shortly after marriage, and if the cake from the wedding was kept in edible condition, then they could just use it for their little one’s christening.

This description of the exciting life of the wedding cake is actually quite short. A more expansive look at the history of wedding cakes involves pregnant hens, smashing plates, the misfortune of fruitcake, a five hundred-pound royal wedding cake, and royal icing. Who knows what’s next?


Nice Day for a Weird Wedding



An adorable little girl trots down the aisle, gleefully tossing flower petals as she goes.  The blushing bride then glides down this passageway, adorned in a gorgeous, flowing white dress.  She meets her beau, who dons a sleek black tuxedo.  Next, a small boy proudly scampers down the path as well, holding a pillow with an expensive ring nestled aloft.  The heartfelt ceremony is completed, the groom smooches the bride, and the couple runs off together – all while loved ones hurl handfuls of uncooked rice at them.

Pretty typical wedding practices, right?

Well, not if you are located in basically any other country on the globe than America.  Many nations and areas have wedding customs that are far different than ours; that we may consider bizarre, intriguing, and flat out: “Huh??”
Continue reading Nice Day for a Weird Wedding

Are Millennials Killing the Wedding Industry?


Well, not quite yet, it would appear – but many wedding service professionals are biting their nails nonetheless.

‘What’s so bad about Millennials?’ you may ask (not taking into consideration their unruly facial hair and/or knitted beanie hats).  Aside from their love of all things tech and their rejection of some traditional customs, Millennials (individuals currently aged 18 to 34) are just as prone to consume as the next generation.  So what’s the fuss about?  The short answer is that this chunk of the population isn’t getting married…as quick as people once did.
Continue reading Are Millennials Killing the Wedding Industry?