Ancient Wedding Traditions in Modern Life

Ancient Wedding Traditions in Modern Life

Written by Antoinette Corbishley on 11 February 2011

It’s pretty amazing how many of the things we do today actually come from traditions spanning from ancient times! Take the modern wedding ceremony for example, from the wedding rings and engagement ring, to the quirky traditions in the ceremony that we consider a norm they all come from ancient traditions.


Although wedding rings and engagement rings actually originated from very early civilisations (did you know that the original concept of wedding rings came from the behaviour of cavemen?) engagement rings became a mainstay of married life in Ancient Rome, particularly for the wealthy! They were exchanges as they are today to announce a betrothal. They were worn on the third finger of the left hand (as many cultures do today) as the Romans believed there was a vein in this finger which connected it directly to the heart, known as the vena amoris. Ancient Egyptians developed the idea of a circle as a symbol of something being never-ending. It was the wedding ring which became the perfect symbol of marriage, an idea which the Ancient Romans believed also. Of course in early Roman culture divorces were not allowed, therefore marriage really was an unending part of their lives!

If you’re worrying about what date to set for your wedding day, just be thankful you aren’t an Ancient Roman! Roman’s traditionally had to choose lucky days for their wedding ceremonies. The most popular month was June, and you weren’t even allowed to get married in May or February! So Valentine’s Day was a definite no no!

Even the clothes had a similar appearance to what we wear today! It was a popular tradition to dress a bride in white and she was usually accompanied by a bridesmaid. But unlike today’s modern habit, it was actually traditional for the guests to wear clothes that were similar to the bride and groom. So you could guarantee that some other girl was going to wear white too!

Even our tradition of having a wedding cake comes from ancient times! In Rome it was customary for an offering of cake to be made to the god Jupiter before the wedding dinner! So when you are cutting a slice of cake on your special day, you are actually a part of a tradition spanning back hundreds of years!

The wedding procession also involved the modern idea of confetti. But instead of today’s rice, the Roman actually through nuts... so it was probably a little bit healthier for neighbouring birds getting a bit peckish! The procession ended with the bride being carried over the threshold, but it was a blown out torch that had been carried in the procession that was thrown to the party guests later on in the celebration!

So if you want to be really traditional don’t forget, you could have your engagement ring and wedding rings commissioned in the Ancient Roman style, or even have a Roman themed wedding ceremony!