Wedding Traditions: Veils, Knives, and Ignoring Your Beloved for 24 Hours

Why do brides wear veils? Why can’t we give knives as wedding gifts? And what’s the deal with not seeing your spouse-to-be within 24 hours of your wedding day?

I receive many questions from brides (and grooms) regarding the origin of traditions and superstitions. Here are a few:

 A Hudson Valley bride asks: “How did the tradition of a bride wearing a veil originate?” 

The Wedding Guru says: This custom originated in ancient Rome. Brides would wear a veil in order to “disguise” herself from evil spirits who were jealous of her happiness. Cover your face and keep the bad guys away! Another creepy theory, also from Roman times, is that the bride wore a full-length veil that was later used as her burial shroud. I write more about the history behind other traditions in “Enduring Wedding Traditions: Customs and Their Origins” as part of’s Wedding Guide.

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 A Hudson Valley bride asks: “Why can’t the bride and groom see one another right before their wedding?”

The Wedding Guru says: This superstition goes back to when marriages were arranged by the parents of the prospective bride and groom. Both sets of parents were concerned that, if the couple were to see one another before their ceremony, they might change their minds going through with the wedding.

 A Hudson Valley bride asks: Why is it frowned upon to give knives as a wedding gift?

The Wedding Guru says: Because it symbolizes a rift, a tear, or a broken relationship, it’s considered bad luck to give a knife as a wedding gift. In order to “counteract” the bad aura, the receiver can offer the gifter a penny. (In that way, the knives are not a gift, but a purchase!)

» More wedding traditions and rituals
» More from The Wedding Guru
» Submit a question to the Wedding Guru
» Hudson Valley Weddings 2013

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