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!

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?

Gift Ideas for the Groomsmen

By Rachel Barton

Recent popular wedding blockbusters like Bridesmaids have solidified the important, emotional, and often hilarious bond between a bride and her best friends. This relationship is an integral part of dress buying, wedding planning, and bachelorette celebrations. However, the equally as important relationship between the groom and his groomsmen is less talked about in popular wedding culture, save for drunken portrayals of college buds creating chaos at over-the-top bachelor parties.

Photo by Laura's Focus Photography

Photo by Laura’s Focus Photography

Indeed, it would seem that the bridesmaids have a much bigger role in actually creating the wedding, but the importance of the groomsmen should not be reduced to “those guys that made the groom show up hungover to his own ceremony.” This misunderstood group of dudes gives a lot to make the wedding a special and memorable situation: they rent that expensive tux that they’ll probably never wear again, they keep the groom looking sharp and feeling supported, they usher guests into their seats to minimize family drama, and they give some pretty hilarious, touching speeches at the reception.

Basically, groomsmen deserve a big shout out for helping the groom in all the ways that only his best friends can. And that’s why we’re talking about the best way to say “thanks” to your ride-or-die crew: groomsmen gifts. Here are a few suggestions:

Photo by Noah Magnifico

Photo by Noah Magnifico

  1. A stylish flask.

C’mon, what guy wouldn’t want his own personal flask? These small, discreet accessories come in basically every style imaginable, from vintage leather to engraved wood. You can also order personalized flasks to give your gift a special touch. Nothing says “thank you” like some portable liquid courage, after all.

 2. A personalized leather wallet.

There’s nothing quite as classic as the basic, dependable leather wallet. There’s something about this tried and true accessory that says “Hey! I have my life together.” Indeed, a good wallet is an everyday life-saver and an absolute necessity for every man. And, with a personalized touch, these simple gifts become special mementos in honor of friendship and matrimony.

3. An engraved pocket knife.

Pocket knives are probably one of the most useful tools on this planet. And yet, they are surprisingly rarely seen outside of summer camps. Do your groomsmen a favor by hooking them up with this cool and convenient gadget. An engraved wooden finish will preserve its functionality while giving it a mature and stylish look.

4. A retro shaving bag.

Though a simple leather shaving bag is an outrageously practical and affordable purchase, many men have yet to make the leap. Like the leather wallet, the shaving bag communicates sophistication and maturity. Though this is meant as a “thank you” to your groomsmen, they will likely end up thanking you for making their lives that much easier.

5. A whiskey glass.

A whiskey glass, like a flask, is simply a really cool way to have a good time. Everyone should have one (or more) in their cupboard for when the occasion arises. A customized glass will provide an especially unique gift, and a small set of these is very affordable on craft sites like Etsy. It’s easy, fun, and effortlessly classic.

Photo by Kimberley Izatt Photography

Photo by Kimberley Izatt Photography

Invitations 101

By Christine Winder

So, he popped the question, you said yes, and now you’re planning the wedding of your dreams. The next step is to invite guests to your soiree, but you want to make sure you abide by Emily Post’s etiquette while staying under budget and stylish. Invitation 101 tells you everything you need to know when it comes to addressing, phrasing, and designing your invitations.

Niederlehner-Gelderblom Wedding, Issue 3, page 44 Image by Kemper Mills Fant Photography

Niederlehner-Gelderblom Wedding, Issue 3, page 44
Image by Kemper Mills Fant Photography


Did you know that the way you phrase the invitation actually describes the type of venue the ceremony will be held in? The phrase “request the honor of your presence” means the ceremony will be held in a place of worship. Saying “would be delighted by your presence” describes a more informal location for the ceremony such as a vineyard or beach wedding.

Host Line:

Choosing how to word the host line of the invitation can be tricky when it comes to complicated family or financial circumstances. A great way to bypass the issue is to use the phrase “together with their parents” before the couple’s names and the invitation or announcement line. This way no one feels left out or overlooked.

Clay-Tucker Wedding, Issue 2, Page 88 Image by Pasha Belman

Clay-Tucker Wedding, Issue 2, page 88
Image by Pasha Belman



Proper etiquette says responses should be due two to three weeks before the wedding, and the RSVP line should be located in the lower left corner where other important information such as attire is found. It’s stressful for a bride to chase after guests for RSVPs, so one way to help guests remember to respond is to include a response card, envelope, and stamp within the invitation. It is also acceptable to call and request a response by mail.


It is acceptable to send invitations to guests about six to eight weeks prior to the date in order to give everyone plenty of response time and preparation. When inviting guests to a destination wedding, it is better to give them up to three months advance notice. If you wish to send save-the-dates in addition to invitations, they should be sent six to eight months ahead of time.

Now that you know how to make the perfectly worded invitation, it is equally important to create a beautiful one. This year there are several new styles to try out.


Richard-O'Shea Wedding, Issue 3, page 96 Image by Kathy Taylor Scott

Richard-O’Shea Wedding, Issue 3, page 96
Image by Kathy Taylor Scott


If you or a close friend is artistic, this is the opportunity to incorporate personal details in the invitation. They can be as detailed or simplistic as you desire, but hand-drawn designs pair well with outdoor, bohemian weddings.

Pop of Color:

Guests won’t forget to RSVP when they see an invitation in bold, bright colors. They stray from the traditional, neutral colors of invitations, but using bold colors gives the bride a chance to incorporate wedding colors or even just favorite colors into the invitations.

Graphic Prints:

Invitations are traditionally known for beautiful scrollwork and calligraphy, but more modern brides should try bold prints and lettering instead. This style can turn ordinary invitations into artwork.

Southern Ceremony Traditions

By Christine Winder

We’ve all heard the age old saying “something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue.” According to tradition, incorporating these elements into your wedding day ensures good luck in the marriage. If these four tokens don’t seem like quite enough there are four other Southern traditions that will bring good luck on the big day.

Photo by K.D. Burke Photography

The Polson Wedding, Issue 2, pg 119 Photo by K.D. Burke Photography

Bury the Bourbon

No bride wants the threat of rain to ruin her day, especially since many Southern weddings are held outdoors. Tradition says that burying an unopened bottle of bourbon upside down exactly one month before the day of the ceremony brings the promise of good weather. Not only does this make for beautiful pictures, but it also adds a fun touch to the ceremony when the bride and groom dig the bottle back up to share with family and friends. The only catch? Don’t forget where you buried the bottle!

Charm Pull Cake

The cake pull, a lesser-known practice, is a unique twist on the bride throwing her bouquet. During this event, the bride gathers her bridesmaids around the cake prior to cutting it with the groom. Each girlfriend chooses a ribbon attached to a charm baked inside the cake, and then all at once they pull to reveal their assorted charms. Each one has a different meaning. For example, a butterfly symbolizes eternal beauty and a hot air balloon means adventure awaits. Much like catching the bouquet, the bridesmaid who receives a ring charm is meant to be the next bride. This tradition can even be incorporated into the wedding party gifts by giving each girl a charm bracelet to show off her new charm.

Photo by Amodeo Photography

The Housden Wedding. Issue 2, pg 86 Photo by Amodeo Photography

Unity Candle

In this popular tradition, the bride and groom’s respective families take turns lighting a candle. The bride and groom each take one candle to then light the center candle to represent their new union and family in one another separate from their parents. Many brides now choose to take a more unique approach.  For example, some brides use colored sand to pour into a vase to symbolize unity and match their beach themed décor. More nautical themed weddings could feature a knot tying ceremony.



The Tackett Wedding, Issue 1, pg 54 Photo by Tara Lilly Design & Photography

Tree Planting

Another unique way to blend the new families is through a tree planting ceremony. Couples can incorporate family members into their personalized versions where their mothers bring a pot of dirt from each of their gardens that the couple uses to plant a tree or flowers. Often times, the bride and groom will gather dirt from their childhood or current home; once blended, they’ll take the dirt and/or trees to plant in their new home they’ll have together!

Reception Music: Celebrating the Happy Couple

By Christine Winder

Roy Prusak of RSP Entertainment Photo by Kemper Mills Fant Photography

Roy Prusak of RSP Entertainment
Photo by Kemper Mills Fant Photography

Everyone knows that one of the best parts of weddings is the celebration after the nuptials. And one of the best parts of the celebration is the music. It plays a key role in setting the tone for your wedding, and it gives the opportunity to really showcase the bride and groom’s personalities.

While the DJ may be interested in playing a mix throughout the reception, the couple may choose to personalize their first dance song. This is my personal favorite part of any wedding, and I believe it is important to pick the perfect song to describe the romance.

Hopeless Romantics

This couple believes in love at first sight and finding soul mates. The song should be equally fitting. This bride and groom believe that love is timeless, and the song should be timeless as well. A good song choice would be “Iris” by The Goo Goo Dolls or “Lucky” by Jason Mraz.

Class Clowns

This couple is madly in love and probably bonded over their wonderful sense of humor. Just because it’s their wedding day doesn’t mean they have to stay traditional. Their song should be fun and upbeat just like they are while still telling their love story. “You Don’t Know You’re Beautiful” and “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart” by Elton John are sure to delight.


Some couples prefer to keep their song simpler and more traditional. Some may even prefer to use the song their parents danced to at their weddings as well. Great choices for a couple who wants something classy and elegant are “The Way You Look Tonight” by Frank Sinatra and “What A Wonderful World” by Louis Armstrong.

If you’re still stuck on picking a genre or specific song for your special day, just remember that the words are an important element that can describe the love you share to your guests. Another important reminder is that it doesn’t matter if you can’t dance well to your song. As long as the song is meaningful to you and your significant other and you’re having fun in the moment, you’ll be sure to pick the best first dance song for you!

Orchard Photo Shoot: Fun Favors, Dippable Dessert

Photo by Bella Muse Photography

Photo by Bella Muse Photography

For our photo shoot at Ikenberry Orchard, we kept it simple when it came to favors and dessert. Instead of the traditional cake, we opted for a delicious apple pie and slices of apples for dipping in yummy toppings. Favors that included s’mores ingredients complemented our earthy outdoor theme, because who doesn’t love making s’mores around a fire?

Here’s how to create these items for your own wedding!

Photo by Bella Muse Photography

Photo by Bella Muse Photography

For the s’mores favors:

  • Layer two graham crackers, one chocolate square and one or two large marshmallows in a small cellophane bag.
  • Use twine or ribbon to close the bag.
  • We also used a tag that read “S’more Love” or you can come up with a cute slogan that suits your wedding day.
Photo by Bella Muse Photography

Photo by Bella Muse Photography

For the apple slices:

  • You could create an apple dipping station for guests to enjoy.
  • Cut apples (red, green or both!) into slices.
  • Insert a popsicle stick into each slice.
  • Our toppings included caramel, sprinkles and nuts. You could also use melted chocolate, chocolate chips, graham cracker crumbs or other favorite toppings. Hint: To help the caramel stick to the slices, use a paper towel to absorb some of the moisture from the apple.

Guests will have a blast creating their own miniature candy apples!

Photo by Bella Muse Photography

Photo by Bella Muse Photography