We humans are symbol-makers and have been for millennia. We use symbols to help share messages, understand our world, tell stories, give extra special meaning to important occasions, and honour culture.  Symbols can be used to connect people of similar beliefs and values.

Symbols carry a weight of power but only if we consider the symbolism behind the images or rituals.

Weddings are full of symbolism. Here are a few of the most common symbols, and their meanings.


Bride putting on wedding ring

Traditionally the wedding ring is a simple gold band. The gold is meant to represent pure intentions. The circle represents eternity.

Why is it worn on the left hand in many cultures?

It seems that the origins of placing the wedding ring on the left hand dates back to ancient Rome. At this time, it was believed that vein in the fourth finger of the left hand was a direct connection to the heart. The Romans named the vein vena amoris (vein of love). While true, science has since found that all fingers have veins that lead to the heart. While still a nice tradition there is no strict rules on where you can wear your wedding ring.



This tradition, where the groom takes off then throws the bride’s garter to eager unmarried men isn’t performed as much now as it used to, but it is still a fun tradition that you’ll see at many weddings. The receiver of the garter is meant to receive with it, good luck.

Going back to the Dark Ages, a bride’s outfit was created with the finest material that her family could afford. As such, to receive a piece of it was considered good luck. When the wedding party would conclude, guests would proceed with the couple to their bedroom to ensure that they arrived safely and to offer final well wishes.  To thank the guests, the bride would throw out a piece of her wedding gown.


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This is another lively tradition where a bride turns her back to a waiting crowd of single women and throws her wedding bouquet over her shoulder. The catcher of the flowers is meant to be next in line for getting married.

The tradition as we have it now can be traced to the 1800s in England. It came about as a way to avoid another tradition which was getting out of hand. As marriage prior to that time was often a way for women to find financial safety, many felt that touching the brides dress would bring them good luck. This devolved into trying to tear off a piece of the bride’s dress. The tossing of the flowers became a way to calm that craziness down and avoid the bride walking out of the party buck naked.


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This one is simple. The colour white is meant to signify purity and virtue. That can’t be all there is to it though. All colours have symbolism that can relate to the personality and attributes of a bride.

The history of the white dress becoming the norm is not that old. Before the 20th century, brides would wear whatever colour they felt like. They still can of course but why has the colour white become standard?

In 1840, a time when media was able to carry images and news far and wide, Queen Victoria stepped out in a white silk-spun gown at her wedding to Prince Albert. Elaborate gold embroidery, fur and rich colours were the go-to for the aristocracy at the time, so this was seen as an audacious move that the public immediately found enticing. Victoria even swapped her crown for a wreath of orange blossoms and myrtle.


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I talked about this one in the blog on traditions from around the world. It’s a fun tradition meant to bring good luck and while stressful to some if left to the last minute, can also feel like a bit of a scavenger hunt-like game. “Something old” is meant to represent connection to the past. “Something new” stands for optimism toward the future. “Something borrowed” is meant to be taken from a happily married friend or family member and is meant to bring luck and fertility. “Something blue” represents love, purity, and fidelity. In the oldest traditions there is also the addition of a sixpence which the bride tucks into her shoe. This was meant to bring prosperity.


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We know WHY a couple would want to go on a honeymoon but where did the name come from? It is believed that in Babylon, around 4000 years ago the bride’s father would supply his now son-in-law with all the beer he could drink for a month. This was after the wedding of course. Nobody wanted a drunk groom stumbling down the aisle. The beer (mead) was honey-based and the Babylonian calendar was lunar-based. So that time-frame became known as “The Honey Month”.  


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The ringing of wedding bells after the ceremony is meant to scare away any naughty spirits that might have it out for the couple and want to destroy their happiness. This is still done at many church services but is becoming less so at secular weddings. Bring it back I reckon.  



Throwing rice, seed or grain as the couple departs is meant to wish the couple prosperity. Rice or grains symbolize fertility and prosperity.

This is a tradition that harks back to pre-Christian times.  The Celts, who were a crop growing culture would toss grains including rice and millet not only to bless the couple with prosperity but also as a way to appease the spirits. Some cultures have that same idea but may toss things other than grains. For example, in Italy they may throw candies or sugared nuts. In some Indian traditions they’ll toss flower petals. In Morocco they’ll go with dried dates and/or figs.

By the way, the idea that uncooked rice will kill birds if they consume it, is an expertly debunked rumour. Birds have no issues with eating rice.



Nowadays we do it with the simple thought of wishing the couple good luck on the next stage of their journey in life. In ancient times it was believed that as the couple had just been blessed, touching them could also bring good luck.


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Firstly, nobody knows how the smashing of the cake into each other’s faces started. I imagine it was just a prank that after a moment of shock received a good laugh and so it caught on. Otherwise, the actual feeding each other symbolises “feeding” and nourishing the relationship.



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I did a blog on party favours that you can read about here.

Almonds are quite symbolic and traditionally, what you present to each guest is five almonds. Almonds represent the bitterness and sweetness that you can expect from a long-term relationship.  Having five almonds represents hope for the relationship: health, wealth, happiness, fertility, and longevity.

Would you like to become a celebrant? Contact us now! We’ll get you started on a journey into a world full of romance, joy, tradition, and wedding food.

To learn more about CHC41015 – Certificate IV in Celebrancy through Rose Training Australia, click here: BECOME A QUALIFIED MARRIAGE CELEBRANT