Weddings and traditions go hand in hand, so much so that we rarely stop to wonder why we do some of the things we do. Now that I’m a wedding planning intern at Weddings in Vieques, I’ve become more curious. Take, for example, the tradition of the groom carrying his bride over a threshold. Where did it come from? It ages itself back to around the same time flower girls started throwing flower petals down the aisle, and the idea of a runner making a path to the altar. We have the ancient Romans to thank for starting this wedding tradition that has become quite common over the years. But do you really know why the heck we do it? Well, leave it to ancient times to be creative about their reasoning for conducting this particular act. The Romans believed the bride had to show that she was unenthusiastic and not crazy about leaving her father’s home; therefore, the groom must “drag” her over the threshold to their new home together. This resembles the “hard-to-get” game that couples may play when they’re dating. This belief, for the most part, has been lost through the course of time. Asian weddings have a similar tradition of playing capture the bride games before the wedding. Today, most children leave their homes after high school, many heading off to college for their first semester. I think I can speak for the majority of society when I say those freshmen year college students are thrilled to leave home and enter the world of “responsibility.” Clearly, we don’t know what we’re getting into. But the point is that we’re not sitting at home waiting to be captured so the threshold-carrying thing is really just symbolic. If you want to take it that way. Another major reason for carrying the bride over a threshold was that they believed that if the bride tripped over the threshold, she would bring bad luck into the home and the marriage. The groom carrying his bride through the entryway ruled out any possibility of the bride tripping. I wonder if you get double the bad luck if the groom trips and they both go down. Back in the day, they worried a lot about “evil spirits.” And supposedly, newlyweds are extra susceptible to evil spirits. Apparently, some believe that the bride plays the role of a metal pole in a lightning storm. Meaning, the bride’s body supposedly provides a great entry point for spirits. In my humble opinion, this concept is farfetched. Can you say outdated? Let’s continue on with the farfetched and very archaic theme. Hear me out on this next one. The reason the groom carried the bride was to prevent this spirit intrusion. During ancient times, people believed that evil spirits would most likely enter the body through the soles of the bride’s feet. If the bride was swept off her feet, this eliminated any potential of evil spirits entering and haunting the bride. Now, I am sure people are aware that a bride walking herself over a threshold is supposed to be bad luck, but seriously? An evil spirit entering the body of the bride because she walked through the doorway on her own? That’s just plain ridiculous. To take this threshold tradition one step further, let’s think about the fundamentals of the threshold. How does the groom decide which threshold to carry the bride across? Is it into the honeymoon suite? Their first home together? The apartment they’ve lived in for a while? Chances are the couple has already been living with each other before their wedding. So doesn’t it seem a little bizarre to carry the bride into the home they have already been living in together for an extended period of time? I think so. But really, how do you decide which threshold? I think it would be a little redundant to carry the bride over every significant threshold in the newlywed’s life, not to mention the groom may get a bit tired. At some point, I think the bride is going to want to walk herself through an entryway on her own two feet, evil spirits or not. So now that we know the reasoning behind this long held tradition, let’s fast forward to modern times. It is to no surprise that the average person has grown in size since ancient times and we women have gotten bigger too! Back then, people were a lot smaller in both height (the average of woman’s height is no longer 4’8″) and weight (we won’t go there, but leave it to say we do not go out and hunt for our every meal). We must add into the equation that carrying a bride (especially in a massive, poufy wedding gown) might not be so practical for the groom anymore. After being engaged, I would hope the groom would know whether or not he could safely pick up his bride. So hey, if the groom wants to do it for old-times-sake, more power to him!
The reasoning behind carrying the bride over the threshold has been lost throughout the course of time. Couples that like a traditional wedding will most likely participate in this simple act. I would advise any couple who is superstitious to go ahead and partake in the tradition. We don’t want you worried for the rest of your life about whether you’re possessed by evil spirits or not. But if you’re like me and do not believe in superstition (I own an all-black cat), then maybe you want to participate in this romantic tradition just for good old-fashioned fun. Claire McCarthy, Intern at Weddings in Vieques