Wedding Accessories and Their Meanings

Amanda Rockwood

Wednesday Jul 6th, 2022

Last week I wrote a blog about the history of wedding dresses. As I was writing that one, I felt it would also be interesting to also go over other parts of a brides’ outfit.

One of the most popular accessories is the veil. Veils were used all the way back in ancient Greek and Roman times. It was meant to symbolize their untouched state and protect them from evil spirits. The original veils were thick and red, along with the rest of their outfit, to represent fire. Veils were so thick that brides could barely see out and it was necessary for someone to escort them down the aisle. Today, the tradition is for the father to escort their daughter down the aisle to their future husband.

Queen Victoria on her wedding day.
Example of a bride with the thick red veil.

As time went on many women chose not to wear a veil. It did not become popular again until Queen Victoria wore one for her wedding. Today, many women do still wear a veil, but not all. Instead, some women choose to wear tiaras or other smaller head pieces.

Veils from the collection at the Hagen History Center.

Another accessory is the garter. This tradition dates all the way back to the Dark Ages. Garters were worn to hold up the brides’ stockings. On the wedding night they would be removed and tossed to their guest before the wedding couple went on to consummate the marriage. Today, garters can be worn on either leg, usually on the narrowest part of the thigh. Some brides will wear it lower due to the tightness of their dress. Some brides even choose not to wear it all day. Most will put it on while getting ready the morning of, but some will wait until the garter toss to slip it on before going back to the dance floor. There are even brides who do not participate in the toss because they are not comfortable with the garter removal in front of family and friends.

Garter from the collection of the Hagen History Center.

Lastly, the bouquet has its own symbolism. Yet again, this was another way to keep away evil spirts! In the early years due to the lack of bathing the bouquet was said to help hide the bride’s stench. Bouquets did not just consist of flowers like they do today. Originally herbs and spices where added in. On a more romantic note, and more common today, is the meaning of flowers. Bouquets commonly consist of flowers that have special meanings to show the couples love.

Part of a bouquet from the collection at the Hagen History Center.