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Americans know the routine of a traditional wedding, you buy a gown and a veil, collect some old, new, borrowed, and blue items, throw confetti and rice, and eat wedding cake. But what are these customs all about, and how did all these customs originate?

The wedding gown and veil

The traditional white wedding gown symbolizes the innocence of the bride in her preparation for her new husband. It is customary for the bride not to wear the gown in front of the groom before the wedding ceremony. It is also unlucky for the wedding dress to be fully sewn until the wedding day. Many brides will save the last stitch of the gown until just before leaving for the church.

Wearing a wedding veil is still highly popular in the United States. The tradition originated in an effort to fend off evil spirits for the bride before the wedding. The thought is that the evil spirits will see the veil and not be able to get to the person inside, preserving the bride for the husband.

Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue

This is a rhyme that began in Victorian times. Typically, the something old refers to the friends who are in the wedding party who will be present during the wedding that will bring the bride luck during the marriage. The something new is meant to be the new bride and groom's future happiness and success. The something borrowed often comes from the bride's family. This should be an item the bride can take with her to the altar that is from–and quite valuable to–her family. The something blue, long ago, referred to the blue ribbon the bride was to wear in her hair. Now this can be any item, as long as it's blue. The meaning of this rhyme is meant to bring the couple good luck.

Confetti and rice

The throwing of confetti and rice comes from the Italian tradition of throwing candy over the heads of the bride and groom when they exit the church. It is also appropriate to throw nuts or raisins, or even paper confetti. Rice is typically thrown in American weddings to with them fertility in their marriage.

The wedding cake

The tradition of eating cake at a wedding began with the Romans who shared cake in honor of the new couple. An American tradition quickly grew from that which included throwing cake over the head of the bride, much like what is done with confetti. This was to symbolize good luck throughout the marriage. Now, a tradition that has evolved has been one of the bride and groom feeding each other a bite of the first piece of cake. Again, a symbolic gesture that is meant to bring the couple luck.