There are many wedding traditions that you will observe and perhaps take part in the next time you attend a wedding ceremony or wedding reception.
It's interesting to find out more information about certain traditions such as their geographic origins, when they first emerged in history, and how they've evolved over the years from ancient folklore to modern practice.
Let's start with one you've heard countless times. “Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue.” The saying refers to the fact that a bride should hold or wear something that falls into each category. The original purpose of following the dictates of the rhyme was to keep evil spirits away from the marriage celebration.
Wedding rings are circular because circles have no start or finish. The unbroken circle represents something continuous - love which always has been and will be forever. The significance of the exact finger on which wedding rings are placed (left hand – third finger which these days is now traditionally referred to as "the ring finger") is due ot the fact that the populations of ancient Greece believed the vein in the third finger was connected to the heart.
When the priest, minister, rabbi, or other officiant says to the groom, "You may now kiss the bride," the reason for this is based on the ancient Roman dictum that a kiss signifies acceptance of a legal agreement or engagement. (Of course, with arranged marriages, betrothals were indeed a type of legal agreement between the father of the bride and the suitor.) In modern times, the kiss is the physical symbol that illustrates for the guests the meaning of the words "I now pronounce you husband and wife."
Another explanation for the traditional wedding kiss comes from the superstitions of the Medieval time period. Common beliefs in those days stated that kissing between two people imparted pieces of the soul when the air was exchanged during breathing. Therefore, the kiss represents the union of two souls, or two lives into one.
Since unity is the overall theme of every wedding day, the ritual of lighting a unity candle also deserves some attention. Two sepearate candles jointly light the unity candle producing one flame. Again, this is a visual representation of the idea of two lives being joined as one. The same concept applies if the couple chooses a variation of the custom – having various members from each family all simultaneously light the unity candle. In that case, the newly lit flame symbolizes the joining of the two families.
You may be able to guess at the meaning of some of the cultural traditions above, but this next one will probably be a bit more elusive to all but the sharpest of historians. Drinking a toast to the happy couple dates back to a French tradition of putting a slice of bread inside a wine goblet before the liquid is added. Each person around the table would take a sip of the drink as the cup was passed around until it reached the person in whose honor the drink was poured. At that point, the honoree would drink the rest of the wine and consume the bread as well.
This explanation should give you a deeper appreciation for any wedding traditions you want to incorporate into your special day.