History of Weddings

How a few of our traditions began!

Your wedding day is one of the biggest rites of passage you can go through, and it has been for centuries. Long before recorded history, men and women would tie the knot and start their own families (even if they didn’t call it tying the knot yet!). Some of our traditions seem like they’ve been around forever, but you may be surprised that many of our modern day wedding habits only date back a few centuries.


One of the biggest parts in any modern wedding is the rings. The groom proposes with a diamond ring, and then on the big day the groom and bride exchange simpler wedding bands, usually silver and gold. Diamonds, however, didn’t become popular until 1477, when Archduke Maximilian I proposed to Mary of Burgundy. The ring features several flat diamonds in the shape of an ‘M.’

Back in the cavemen days, men would tie grass around their wives’ ankles, wrists, and waists in an effort to control their spirits. Since then, the idea of binding the wives has reduced to just a finger. The first recorded mention of rings was in Egypt in 2800 BCE. These rings were simple gold or silver wire wrapped around the third finger of the left hand. This particular finger was chosen because it was believed there was a vein in that finger that went all the way to the heart, the vena amoris.

During the second century, grooms gave their brides a gold ring to wear during the ceremony and during special events. He also gave her an iron ring to wear at home, according to Pliny the Elder. The tradition of engagement rings dates back to 860, when Pope Nicholas I decreed that engagement rings are required of those who wish to marry. Peasants in the middle ages, too poor to afford rings, would break a coin in half, one half for the groom and the other for the bride.

Diamonds became vogue in the late 1800’s after a diamond mine was discovered in Cape Colony in South Africa and created a huge increase in the supply. Using gems had already become popular, but diamonds were by far the most valuable and therefore the most desired.


Today, it’s common to see flowers everywhere you look at a wedding. The bridesmaids carry them, the venue is covered in them, and let’s not forget the bouquet the bride carries and later throws. But did you know decorating the church with them and carrying floral bouquets only started in the late 1500’s?

In medieval ages, often the only flowers were worn as a flower crown. And ‘bouquets’ usually consisted of various herbs, especially garlic. The different herbs each had different meanings, such as sage for wisdom or dill for lust. Garlic was also common in these arrangements, because they believed the smell would keep evil spirits away.

It became popular during Elizabethan times for bridesmaids to make bouquets for the guests and a garland of rosemary and roses for the bride. The bride would carry the garland until the end of the ceremony, and then she’d put it on her head. The tradition of decorating the church didn’t become popular until the Victorian age. On top of that, grooms would wear a flower in their lapel. In the country, the bride would walk to the chapel on a carpet of flower blossoms.


You think wedding, you think cake. You think tall, three or four or five layers of cake, decorated with white icing and fancy writing. This custom, however, is less than 150 years old.

Back in ancient Rome, guests used to break bread over the newlyweds, symbolizing fertility, in much the same way as we throw rice. In medieval England, guests used to bring lots of little cakes. They would then stack these cakes and the bride and groom had to try and kiss over the top of it. If they successfully kissed, it was considered a good omen for the marriage. Later, brides would make what was called a bride pie and put a glass ring in it. It was considered bad luck not to take a piece of the bride pie, and whoever got the glass ring was said to be the next to marry. This custom slowly died out in favor of sweeter cakes and fruit pies.

The Wedding Party

It turns out marrying with your friends lined up behind you is a tradition that goes back quite a few years. Grooms had groomsmen first, dating all way back to the “Wedding by Capture” era. The groomsmen played the role of a small army, helping the groom fight off angry relatives while he married the bride.

Bridesmaids came into the picture much later, when weddings were actually planned. They helped the bride get ready, much the same way they do today.

The reason groomsmen and bridesmaids are typically dressed up like the bride and groom is because people used to believe it served as protection against evil. Evil spirits wishing to harm the newlyweds would be confused as to who was the bride and groom.

Venue Spotlight: Hollins University

Our students aren’t the only ones who start new lives at Hollins!

We have two indoor chapels, as well as several outdoor options, which can accommodate ceremonies from 25 – 600 and multiple reception spaces (both indoor and outdoor) which can accommodate from 25 – 350.

From the southern charm of the Green Drawing Room, the tall trees and meandering stream that define the Beale Garden, or the stately porches and lush foliage of the Front Quad, we have what you are looking for to make your wedding a memorable event for you and your guests.

Many people are surprised to learn that our students aren’t the only ones who start new lives at Hollins. In fact, we host a large number of weddings and special events each year.

In addition to our beautiful facilities and grounds, Hollins offers exclusive catering by Meriwether Godsey, as well as two unique lodging options for your bridal party and guests.  Whether you’re looking for a small, intimate space or a large, outdoor gathering, Hollins is the place to make your wedding unforgettable!

Shopping is the Fun Part, Right?


My sister (and my mom) is a quilter, and therefore always down for fabric shopping.

You know how women have this reputation that all they ever want to do is shop? Well that’s about as far from the truth as you can get when talking about my sister and me (Unless it’s fabric shopping. My sister is always up for fabric shopping). This has not changed with wedding planning. It’s actually become more frustrating because none of us are there in person when the other one is shopping.

This is how conversations tend to go:

Mom: “I found these pumpkins that might make great centerpieces!”

Me: “Okay?”

Mom: “Although, the more I look at them the less sure I am about them.”

Me: (With a lot of sarcasm) “I understand completely.”

Mom: “You’ll just have to look at them yourself when you come home.”

Me: “Yes. I’ll do that.”

Yeah, there are challenges about planning a wedding from multiple states. Pinterest only takes us so far. But we’re kind of managing. Mostly. Our key phrase has been “We’ll figure it out when we’re all together later.” That one week my sister and I will be home in November is apparently going to be very busy. But maybe once we’re all in the same room the shopping will be more fun.

Another struggle of this distance thing: without the pressure of seeing my sister every day or every week and therefore needing to collaborate more often, it’s way to easy to push things off. Start looking around at bouquets and bridesmaid dresses? Sure, I’ll do that this weekend…or next…(it has now been over two months I am very sorry sister). Part of my justification for procrastination is there is still so much time; we don’t need to have these things set in stone yet. But they’re also simple things that we could check off the list and actually feel accomplished about in all this planning. (It will get done I swear. I will do it next week).

Thankfully my sister doesn’t procrastinate as much as me, and I suppose being the bride she’s also more motivated. She’s been shopping around on her own a bit for some stuff, and this has presented a whole new set of challenges. For one, shopping as a plus size bride is already a horror on its own, but my sister also needs a good quality strapless bra. Those are incredibly hard to find. In her words, “There are no strapless bras I can put on alone without looking like a contortionist who should be fired.”

Now I want you to follow this train of thought with me: If she can’t find a bra to put on by herself, that means she needs one that someone can help her with. Logically, that falls on the Maid of Honor’s shoulders. Keeping up? Have you realized that’s me? Ding ding ding, I’m the lucky winner!

I knew I’d be helping her into her dress on the big day, but having to help with her bra too blindsided me a little. I’m not saying I don’t want to be as helpful as I can, and I’m certainly not complaining about having to do this. Truthfully, I really don’t mind all that much. It’s just helping my big sister into a bra wasn’t exactly on my bucket list. But hey, that’s what family and Maid of Honors are for, right?

It’s mostly frustrating that I’m not there in person right now to help. All we can do is text pictures to each other or try to explain what we mean over the phone, which isn’t the same at all. And a lot of stuff we want to try and get done keeps getting pushed off until we’re all together. Which makes sense, it’s easier to do it when we’re together. That’s why it’s so hard to be trying to do anything on our own. It’s just a lot harder to support my sister and my mom when I’m hours away. Texting that everything will work out and that it’ll be a great wedding just isn’t the same as hugging them and telling them that.

But for all its challenges, I’m excited to see the final product come together next year. And knowing how much work went into this will make the big day that much better, I think. (You know, assuming we aren’t all dying of stress making sure everything stays perfect).


Clueless Maid of Honor Reporting for Duty

Thoughts from a clueless Maid of Honor as she helps her sister plan her wedding.

She said yes!

He finally proposed!!!

Hearing that your sister’s boyfriend finally proposed is some of the best news you can get all day. And having her ask you to be the Maid of Honor and the only bridesmaid at all just puts a special feeling in your gut. I was glowing with happiness for a solid hour after I heard. Seriously, I could not stop smiling.

And then I realized the Maid of Honor actually has to, like, do stuff. What kind of stuff you ask? That is a great question, one that I do not know the answer to. Yeah, that happy glow faded pretty fast as I rushed online to see what my sister expected me to do.

Most of it seems pretty easy- plan the bridal shower, go dress shopping, keep track of the registry, be the bride’s right hand gal. Simple enough, right?

Maybe if you’re in the same state. Or even just a couple hours away. But no, because wedding planning on its own isn’t challenging enough, we are planning this wedding from three different states, none of which are next to each other. Yep, my sister lives in Illinois, I live in Virginia, and her fiancée as well as where the wedding will take place is in New Jersey.

So all those seemingly simple Maid of Honor duties just got ten times more complicated, because they will have to be done remotely. And I still don’t have a clue what I’m doing in the first place. (My sister may have more faith in me than I deserve.)

Thankfully, we have a wonderful mother who does have a clue, and is more or less the actual wedding planner. It helps that she’s in Jersey too, so she can actually go stake out places and vendors. Let’s hear it for Wonder-Mom!


It’s only been a few weeks since the engagement, but we’re already doing a lot of planning. The ceremony will be in our home church in October 2017, the wedding colors are most likely going to be navy and ivory, the guest list has been made, a venue secured, we’re already stressing about budgets, and my sister has tried on her first wedding dress. Not bad for less than a month, huh?

Most recently, my sister asked me to take charge of her bouquet. The only requirements were it had to have at least two of these three requirements: Simple, Elegant, and Quirky. And she pinned some ideas on Pinterest, to give me visuals on what she was thinking (Pinterest is also a Godsend). So, my mission has been set.

There’s still fourteen months until the wedding, which is both a blessing and a curse. It gives us time to plan everything, but then it also gives us this weird “well it’s too soon to start thinking about that.” Decorations for the ceremony, for example, are probably not things we need to have planned out so well just yet. Things like the venue and food feel just a little more important. But, thanks to Wonder-Mom, things are working out. (Not that she tells me half the time. I only found out half an hour before writing this that they picked a venue.)

But, truth be told, of all the stuff we still have to do, I’m most excited for the dress shopping. We’ve picked a week in November for my sister and I to meet my mom in Jersey and go shopping, and I am already counting down the days until I can see my big sis wearing a wedding dress. It’s been a long time coming, and we’re all excited to see her finally get married. Here’s to hoping the stress doesn’t get to us!

Historic Wedding Gown Exhibit

Historic Wedding Gowns, Tuxes, Memorabilia Go On Display June 3

On March 24, 1818, 22-year-old Mary (Polly) Armstrong of Augusta County stepped into white leather slippers for her marriage to William Clayton. Her shoes, along with more than 50 items related to weddings of the past, are in an exhibit titled “Happily Ever After” opening June 3 at the History Museum of Western Virginia in Roanoke’s Center in the Square.

Ashley Webb, museum curator, has sorted through the Museum’s permanent collection to find treasurers that took couples to the altar and off to their honeymoons up through the 1970s. These include an 1824 black silk taffeta wedding dress and 1916 tails with black and white pinstriped pants. Also on display will be “going away” dresses and even “first night” wear such as a black see-through negligee complete with interior corsetry from 1890. Wedding registry type items (china and silver) have been included along with wedding invitations, garters and cake toppers.

On display with the wedding finery will be wedding photographs, including some from contemporary brides so the exhibit can serve as inspiration for upcoming weddings as well as a trip into nostalgia.

An opening reception has been scheduled for 6-8 p.m on June 3. Tickets are $8 for non-members and free for members of the museum. Please RSVP to info@vahistorymuseum.org or 540.342.5777. The exhibit runs through Oct. 16, 2016.

Roanoke Wedding Crawl Hosts Real Wedding!

 Roanoke Wedding Network Hosts Real Wedding at 4th Annual “Wedding Crawl”

On Sunday, April 3, the Roanoke Wedding Network will host the fourth annual Wedding Crawl, with all proceeds supporting the programs and services provided by the Roanoke Valley SPCA to homeless animals and those in need in our community. In addition, there will be a live wedding to take place in one of the five venues, incorporating a real, local couple and their guests into the event.

The Roanoke Wedding Crawl is a unique bridal show experience for Roanoke where five prominent downtown venues are setup as actual wedding receptions, with the help from local wedding vendors to showcase their businesses to future brides. Venues will feature caterers, cake bakers, florists, lighting experts, photographers, photo booths, DJs, wedding planners, dress shops, salons and so much more. Brides are encouraged to come hungry, as the caterers are ready to feed attendees. Attendees can walk to each venue, though transportation will also be available.

Venues include Center in the Square, Patrick Henry Ballroom, Taubman Museum of Art, Blue 5 – The White Room, and Charter Hall. More than 50 vendors will be participating to showcase their services and products to future brides and grooms. Attendees will have opportunities to talk at length with vendors, sample food and wedding cakes, get a mini manicure and updo, as well as win fantastic prizes such as a submission in bridebook magazine amongst many others. As the main sponsor, AmRhein’s Fine Jewelry will offer a gift certificate to their store for a grand prize winner.

The date of the event is Sunday, April 3, 2016, from 1:00pm to 5:00pm (rain or shine). Registration will be open from 12:00pm-2:00pm. Guests may purchase tickets in advance for $15. Tickets will also be sold at the door for $25.

Since October 2013, the Roanoke Wedding Network has donated approximately $9,090 to the Roanoke Valley SPCA. All proceeds from the Roanoke Wedding Crawl ticket sales are donated to the Roanoke Valley SPCA. It’s a partnership that brides seem to love!

Tickets may be ordered through the Roanoke Valley SPCA website. The deadline to order in advance is April 1, 2016.

Registration will be held from 12:00pm-2:00pm at the Roanoke City Market Building. RVSPCA is providing volunteers to staff the registration areas. At registration, guests will each be given a goody bag and map of the different venues participating as well as their starting venue. Once guests leave their first assigned venue, they may visit other participating venues at their leisure.

Find out more about the Roanoke Wedding Network or see the Wedding Crawl event on Facebook.



Buff Bride: Awesome Abs

Try these four exercises to achieve a stronger core, better balance and good posture for your wedding day.

When it comes to getting in shape for your wedding day, targeting core muscles is most often a number one priority. The importance of a strong core reaches far beyond just physical appearance.

Benefits of a strong core include stronger back muscles, better balance and good posture. Working all muscles of the core pulls the entire stomach and abdominal muscles tighter, resulting in an overall flatter stomach.

There are tons of fad diets, products and exercises that promise to give women a flat stomach, but Kayla Itsine’s e-book “Bikini Body Guide” and Toneitup.com are two resources that women anywhere can depend on for advice on how to shape up their midsections. Both provide fitness plans to kickstart a healthy lifestyle.

Here are four main exercises that help promote a strong core that can be found in the “Bikini Body Guide” and Toneitup.com.


Begin by placing palms or elbows and knees on the floor, then straighten legs to be supported by the balls of the feet. The back should be flat, and the body should be in a straight line parallel to the floor. If this is too advanced, the alternative would be keeping the knees bent and touching the floor. This should be held for two minutes then repeated once.

Start on the balls of the feet and palms of the hands with elbows slightly bent, then lower to the floor as far as possible and return to the original position. Do two sets of 15 reps.

Toe Taps
Begin by lying on the floor on the back with arms above the head and legs extended straight into the air. Bring the hands up to touch the toes, using your abdominal muscles to pull the rest of the body up. Finish the move by lying back down with arms back on the floor above the head. Remember to squeeze the abs the entire time on the way up.

Ab Bicyles
Lie flat on the back with shoulder blades off the ground and hands holding lightly behind the head. Knees should be bent. Bring the right knee to meet the chest while the left leg is extended straight out. Alternate sides adding an upper body twist to each corresponding side.

Flat-Belly Foods

Most people assume that exercise is the number one key to a flat belly and healthy lifestyle. While that is definitely a component of getting in shape, nutrition is also an important factor to remember. When trying to achieve a strong core and flat belly, reach for these four fantastic foods:

Grapefruit: Grapefruit breaks down fatty acids in the body and boosts metabolism to help the body absorb nutrients and digest food quicker. It also aids in digestion, which decreases bloating in the stomach, promotes lean muscle growth and helps curb the appetite.

Pineapple: Pineapple reduces belly fat, which helps the abdominal muscles show through and appear more defined.

Blueberries: These berries contain catechins, which target fat-burning genes in the body but specifically in the abdominal fat cells.

Yogurt: The probiotics contained in yogurt help speed digestion, which gets rid of bloating to create a flatter looking tummy. Reach for plain Greek yogurt, which has no sugar added.

Beautiful Bridesmaids

Forget tacky, over-the-top dresses they won’t ever wear again. Puffy pieces and neon ’80s colors are so behind the times. These days, brides are more flexible in terms of pricing, colors, and dress styles in order to keep their bridesmaids happy and helpful!

A few quick tips: Not everyone looks great in bright orange. Consider a two-color palette that pleases everyone and still matches your theme. Be sure to think about the season and time of day. You took the time to pick a particular day or season; chances are your décor will match the time of year. The same rules apply for the dresses. Time of day matters, too; for example, you wouldn’t want your girls in formal evening wear for an afternoon ceremony.

We love the trend of similar dresses in different styles. You’ll still have control of color and fabric selection, while each girl can choose her favorite style that works best for her body type.

In the end, make sure you’re happy with the decisions. Your best girls will be there for you no matter what color you put them in. It’s your day, after all!

20 Wedding Superstitions

By Lydia Weltmann, bridebook Intern

We’ve all heard some crazy legends revolving around a person’s big day. The bride has to do this and the groom has to do that, or else! Some of these legends have been around for a while, but do you know what all of them really mean? Check out these old wedding superstitions and what they meant!

Photo by Stephanie Parker Photography

Photo by Stephanie Parker Photography

1. Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue

Something old represents continuity with the past and something new represents the coming future. The something borrowed is supposed to come from someone who is already happily married to try and ‘borrow’ their good fortune. Something blue is for fidelity and love.

2. Wearing a Veil

This tradition originated back in Rome. The veil was meant to hide the bride from evil spirits jealous of her happiness.

3. Seeing Each Other Before the Ceremony

Dating back to times of arranged marriages, the idea was if the couple saw each other, they might change their minds and not go through with the wedding.

4. Rain on Wedding Day

Contrary to popular belief, rain on the big day is actually a good omen. It symbolizes fertility and cleansing.

5. Knives as Wedding Gifts

Before you go buying that special chef’s knife for your soon-to-be-hitched friends, you should consider this old superstition. Knives and scissors used to symbolize cutting off a relationship. On the flipside, if you happen to find a knife in your pile of wedding gifts, simply give the gift giver at least a penny in return. This turns the gift into a purchase and negates the effect. Of course, if everyone involved doesn’t believe in old superstitions, there’s nothing wrong with a quality knife for the newlyweds’ kitchen.

6. Carrying the Bride over the Threshold

People used to think brides were susceptible to evil spirits through the soles of their feet, so it was the job of the husband to protect her as she entered the new house.

7. Spider on Your Wedding Dress

While most people think finding a spider on them is a nightmare come true, seeing a spider on your wedding dress is actually a sign of good luck!

8. Using your Married Name before the Wedding

This superstition was believed to tempt fate. People thought the wedding wouldn’t happen at all if the bride started using her new married name before she was officially married.

9. Crossing a Nun or Monk on the Way to the Wedding

People used to think that seeing a nun or a monk while in route to the wedding would curse the bride to a life of barrenness, dependent on charity.

10. Ringing Bells

The Irish thought ringing bells in the church would keep evil spirits away during a wedding. Brides would sometimes put them on their bouquets as extra protection.

11. Breaking Glass

The Italians break a vase or a glass, usually by slamming it on the floor. They believe the number of pieces it breaks into symbolizes how many years of happy marriage the couple will have.

12. Crying on your Wedding Day.

While it tends to be fairly common anyway, crying on the big day means the bride has shed all her tears about the marriage and won’t need to shed anymore later in the marriage.

13. Getting Married in May

Despite this being one of the most popular months to get married in, marrying in May is actually considered bad luck. “Marry in the month of May and you’ll surely rue the day.” Tell that to my parents who have been happily married for 32 years!

14. Don’t Drop the Rings

This superstition foretells of death. Whoever drops the rings will die before their spouse (though the lore doesn’t mention when they’ll die).

15. Throwing Shoes

It goes against our nature to let people throw things at us, but throwing shoes at the bride and groom used to be good luck. Most people nowadays just tie shoes to their cars.

16. Sugar Cubes

Coming from old Greek tradition, placing sugar cubes on the bride sweetens the marriage.

17. Rings on the Ring finger

It was once thought that a vein in the fourth finger of the left hand led to the heart. Wedding rings were therefore placed on that finger, as the symbol of love would have a direct route to the heart.

18. Tossing the garter

Throwing the garter used to be a sign of consummating the marriage. People would wait outside the door of the newlyweds until seeing the garter, sheets, or stockings. Tradition then became tossing the garter into the crowd for good luck. Now it is tossed into a crowd of single men, and whoever catches it will be the next to get married.

19. Sisters

If the younger of two sisters marries first, the oldest must dance barefoot at the wedding or risk never landing a husband.

20. On your left

Brides stand on the groom’s left in typical Christian weddings because in old days he needed his right hand to fend off unhappy suitors that may try to steal the bride.

What other wedding superstitions can you think of?

OneLove Returns to Roanoke


On Sunday, November 8, the OneLove Wedding Expo will return to the city of Roanoke. At the Expo will be numerous wedding photographers, caterers, florists, and more who support LGBT couples and are proud to do business with them. Sponsored by R.M. Johnson & Sons Jewelers, the proceeds from the Expo will be donated to the Metropolitan Community Church of the Blue Ridge.

The OneLove Wedding Expo is a place where people can meet LGBT-friendly vendors, sample food and drink, and check out entertainment such as DJ’s and photobooths.

While the Expo initially began to showcase local businesses that support same-sex couples, it’s open to the public. All couples are highly encouraged to attend. The OneLove expo in February 2015 brought out many people of all ages, race, and orientation.

Sarah Pendleton, Pumpernickle Pickle Catering owner, is also the head of the event. “This show is extremely important to show that Roanoke is progressive and excited to join LGBT couples in marriage. Our goal is to be a tangible resource for Roanoke and surrounding areas, that LGBT and allies can utilize, so that they can feel comfortable they will experience no judgment or rejection based on their lifestyle.”

OneLove chose to donate their proceeds to the MCC Blue Ridge because of their involvement and support in the LGBT community. The church has an ever growing LGBT library and is a proud sponsor of Roanoke Pride’s annual “Pride in the Park Festival.”

The Expo will be held on Sunday, November 8 from 1pm to 5 pm at the Sheraton Roanoke Hotel and Conference Center. Tickets are $5 and can be purchased in advance online at oneloveroanoke.com or at the door. For more information, please see their website or visit their Facebook page for more information.



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