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THE BRIDAL SHOWER - In Holland, legend has it that a father refused to provide his daughter with a dowry which could enable her to marry a poor miller. Her friends provided her with the needed dowry by “showering” her with gifts.

THE BACHELOR PARTY - In fifth century Sparta, military buddies would toast one another and feast the evening before a friend’s wedding to alleviate the groom’s jitters before the big day.

THE MAID OF HONOR - In the olden days, a maid of honor would spend several days making the bridal wreath and helping the bride get dressed. All the bridesmaids used to dress up like the bride to confuse evil spirits who might come to harm the bride.

THE BEST MAN - In the Middle Ages, suitors would take a group of friends with him to capture a bride from an overly protective family. If a groom really meant business, he would take along his “best man” to help him do battle for his love.

SOMETHING OLD ... - In Victorian times, “Something Old” represented the couple’s friends; “Something New” symbolized their happy future; “Something Borrowed” was lent by the brides family and returned later for good luck; and “Something Blue” originated in ancient Israel as a sign of fidelity.

THE WEDDING RING - A truly universal custom dating at least back to ancient Egypt, the circle of the ring at first symbolized eternity. Rings have been made of braided grass, leather, bone and carved stone. In medieval Italy, precious stones were added to rings as the groom’s payment for the bride. In the Middle Ages, it was believed that the third or “ring” finger had a vein directly connected to the heart.

THE BRIDAL BOUQUET - A bridal bouquet used to consist of bunches of garlic, herbs and grains to drive evil spirits away. Eventually, flowers were added to symbolize fertility and everlasting love.

THE BRIDAL VEIL - Centuries ago, when parents arranged marriages to improve their business and political ties, the groom would not even be allowed to see the bride until the end of the ceremony. He would lift the veil and hope for the best!

GIVING AWAY THE BRIDE - Daughters were once the possession of their fathers, and the giving away of the bride was a formal process of transfer of ownership. Today, the custom is an expression of the parents’ blessing of their daughter’s choice of a husband.

THE KISS - The kiss began as a symbol of trust and the sealing of the marriage agreement. It is now an expression of romantic love.

THE GUEST BOOK - In the days of old, formal records were kept of all the witnesses to a ceremony, and all the guests would sign the marriage certificate. When only two witnesses began signing the certificate, couples brought out guest books to preserve the memories of their happy day.

THE WEDDING CAKE - In ancient Rome, a loaf of bread would be broken over the bride’s head for fertility and fulfilling life. Today, the couple cut the first piece of cake together to symbolize their shared future. Then they feed each other the first piece of cake to symbolize how they will nurture one another in their marriage.

THROWING RICE - In the Orient, rice symbolized fertility. Today it is more popular to blow bubbles or ring bells or release balloons.