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5 Strange and Delightful Wedding Traditions From The Past

Published Monday, Nov. 29th, 2021

Illustrations by Jessica Levey

Some wedding traditions we’re happy to see fade away, especially gendered and patriarchal traditions of past eras. And new traditions are starting all the time.


But some old-timey traditions are so unusual and interesting that we just don’t want to let them go! 

Here are a few old fashioned wedding customs we’d like to bring back -- but with a modern twist.


Next, ask a friend or family member to get ordained online to officiate your wedding ceremony. 




1. Silver sixpence in a bride's shoe 


Our first question when we heard this one was “Uh, what’s a sixpence?” If you don’t know either, a sixpence was worth about 6 pennies, which makes sense. To bring luck to a wedding ceremony, legend says the coin had to be made of silver and placed in the bottom of a bride’s shoe before she walked down the aisle. 


 We love the sound of this tradition, but prefer a more comfortable approach… Some chunky retro penny loafers with a lucky coin tucked in top? Or maybe a silver charm tied to a delicate white shoe lace would do the trick.

Illustration of yellow 90s style penny loafers with a silver sixpence for good luck at the wedding ceremony while walking down the aisle



2. Wearing someone else’s underwear


Yep, it turns out the “something borrowed” in that whole wedding rhyme was actually about borrowing someone else’s underpants. More specifically, the English folklore says that a bride should borrow undergarments from a woman who’s already given birth to a healthy child or two… so that her own fertility will be boosted! 


We didn’t know that’s how these things worked… But we like to see friends participating in the wedding ceremony. So, why not! Just give them a good wash and fluff first?


illustration of pink underwear with hearts



3. Ringing bells


This tradition started when many couples were getting married in religious ceremonies, and church bells rang out loudly to announce the newlywed couple as they left. But there’s no reason you can’t ring any kind of bell -- in any kind of setting you like! 


It’s also said that ringing bells has the power to keep away evil spirits, which seems like a good idea on a day that’s already stressful enough (without an uninvited spirit showing up). We say grab those handbells and get to celebrating! 


illustration of two handbells, with green handles



4. The High Noon wedding


We’ve heard from a few sources that weddings used to begin right at noon. High noon! Right on the dot! Can you imagine the excitement? (And not just because that meant a wedding actually started on time…)


We don’t know why this wild-west vibe was abandoned, but we want to bring it back. In fact, how about an entire Old West themed wedding set for high noon? With wedding chaps and cowboy hats, and two lovers exchanging dueling (duet style) wedding vows? Sounds like a mighty fine time! 


illustration of a clock showing noon, alongside a pair of reddish pink cowboy boots




5. Matching Bridesmaid Dresses


Ok, we know what you’re thinking. “Good riddance!” to those ugly puffy-sleeved, big-bowed fashion monstrosities that were once a rite of passage for women in decades past. 


But hear us out -- If you don’t want to make your friends wear ugly dresses, that’s your business. But how about matching jumpsuits? Or festive holiday onesies? Or Stormtrooper uniforms? Either way, we still see some clear benefits to asking the wedding party to coordinate.



illustration of three women wearing coordinated bear onesies with hearts




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Jessica Levey
Jessica Levey

Lead Staff Writer & Illustrator

Jessica loves exploring the history and magic of ritual, the connections between people and places, and sharing true stories about love and commitment. She's an advocate for marriage equality, LGBTQ+ rights, and individuality, and is an ordained Minister with AMM. When she’s not writing or illustrating for AMM, she enjoys city hikes, fantasy novels, comics, and traveling.

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