A note from the author...
As a new bride, I just got hitched May 14th, I would like to thank all of my friends and family at KC&J for going beyond the call for my proposal, engagement, and wedding. KC&J truly is a family experience, whether you are related or just visiting the store you are given the 'family treatment' and shown a warmth and care that most jewelry stores lack. My husband ran in to KC&J and designed my custom ring all without my knowing while I believed he was just running to pick up a polar pop (and was back in time before I was too suspicious). With less than a week to have my ring ready KC&J created a custom ring that they rushed to my proposal and handed off to my husband while I was unexpectedly running about my duties that evening. KC&J helped my husband surprise me, which is incredibly hard to do, and swept me off my feet. Every bit of jewelry I wore on my wedding day was from KC&J, from my wedding ring to the lucky sixpence in my shoe, and I wouldn't have it any other way. I know the care KC&J puts in to every engagement, wedding, and special jewelry experience and I can say that I was truly given the 'royal treatment'. I am happy (as the blog author for KC&J) to finally write a blog about the history behind the engagement and wedding traditions we all follow, and to share my special wedding story.
Thank you KC&J,
The history of the Proposal
Chivalrous gentlemen sent a pair of gloves to their true loves. If the woman wore the gloves to church on Sunday, it signaled her acceptance of proposal.
The term "spooning" was coined by lovesick men of Wales. A suitor carved a spoon of wood and presented it to his beloved. If she wore it around her neck on a ribbon, she returned his love and they were engaged.
The right of every women to propose on 29th February each leap year, goes back many hundreds of years to when the leap year day had no recognition in English law (the day was 'lept over' and ignored, hence the term 'leap year'). It was considered, therefore, that as the day had no legal status, it was reasonable to assume that traditions also had no status. Consequently, women who were concerned about being 'left on the shelf' took advantage of this anomaly and proposed to the man they wished to marry.
It was also thought that since the leap year day corrected the discrepancy between the calendar year of 365 days and the time taken for the Earth to complete one orbit of the sun (365 days and 6 hours), it was an opportunity for women to correct a tradition that was one-sided and unjust.
The history of he Engagement Ring
The engagement ring symbolizes the promise of a future together, sealed with the giving and accepting of a ring.
The diamond engagement ring as we know it has been around since the 1400s and was first found in Medieval Italy.
Rings featuring gem stones were popular in the 18th and 19th centuries. Often, the first letter of the stones within the setting spelled out the name of the giver or a word.
Another ring known as the Gimmal Ring, was a three part ring which had two clasped hands on it. During the engagement, one part was worn by the bride, one by the groom, and the third by a witness. It was reunited as the brides wedding ring, on the day of their marriage
In earlier times, the engagement, or betrothal ring, was a partial payment for the bride and was a pledge of the groom's intentions.
Over time, the diamond emerged as the symbol of betrothal because its clarity and brilliance reflected innocence and purity, while it's strength signaled the hope of an enduring love. All wedding and engagement rings are worn on the third finger of the left hand. The vein in this finger was once believed to go directly to the heart which is closely associated with love.
Until the 15th century, only kings wore diamonds, as a symbol of strength, courage, and invincibility. In India, where it was first discovered, the diamond was valued more for its magic than its beauty and was believed to protect the wearer from fire, snakes, illnesses, thieves, and great evil.
Ancient Greeks believing the fire of a diamond reflected the flame of love, actually thought them to be teardrops from the gods. Ancient Romans also endowed them with romantic powers, believing diamonds to be splinters from falling stars that tipped the arrows of Eros, the god of love. In the Middle Ages diamonds were credited with the power to reunite estranged marriage partners.
KC&J has a large selection of matching wedding and engagement bands, estate jewelry, as well as custom jewelry designing.
The history of the Bridal Shower
This event has its roots in Holland. When a bride's father did not approve of the husband-to-be, he would not provide her with the necessary dowry. The brides friends would therefore "shower" her with gifts so she would have her dowry and thus marry the man of her choice. While dowries are long gone today, the practice of giving gifts to the bride-to-be remains.
Bridal showers were also meant to strengthen the friendships between the bride and her friends, give her moral support, and help her prepare for her marriage.
The idea to give gifts is fairly new, dating from the 1890's. At one shower, the bride's friend placed small gifts inside a Japanese parasol, and then opened it over the bride's head so all of the presents would "shower" over her. When word of this hit the fashion pages, people were so charmed, they decided to do the same at their showers.
Unique bridal shower gifts available at KC&J.
The history of the Bachelor Party
This was the last chance before his new wife took over the finances for the groom to gather money by gambling for his own future use. Ancient Spartan soldiers were the first to hold stag parties. The groom would feast with his male friends on the night before the wedding. There he would say good-bye to the carefree days of bachelorhood and swear continued allegiance to his comrades.
Unique groom and groomsmen gifts available at KC&J.
The history of the Bridal Party
Inviting women to be members of your bridal party dates back to ancient times. One Roman custom was to dress the bridesmaids in a fashion similar to the bride's to confuse evil spirits trying to kidnap the bride. Bridesmaids also had the role of fending off unsuitable suitors, leaving the bride for her groom. Although the specific functions of being a bridesmaid have changed over time, being the brides support system, confident, defender and friend hasn't.
Another legend states that it was once common for the bride, her groom and all their friends to walk together to the church on the morning of the wedding. Afraid that someone, maybe a rejected suitor, would spot the happy couple and put a curse on them. The groom's friends wore clothes almost identical to his, and the women costumed themselves like the bride. These disguises tricked evil wishers into letting the real bride and groom live happily ever after.
Today attendants are dressed alike for the beauty and pageantry of the event.
Many centuries ago, before the women's rights movement, men who had decided upon a wife often had to forcefully take her with him (or kidnap her) if her family did not approve of him. The groom-to-be would sometimes face resistance from her male family members or from competing suitors who would fight him off. The groom would therefore bring along his "best men" to help him fight for the woman. Today the best man and ushers are honorary positions.
Another legend is that during ancient times when women were in short supply, the groom captured his bride-to-be from a neighboring village. The future bridegroom, accompanied by a male companion, seized any young girl who had strayed from the safety of her parental home. Our custom of a "best man" is a relic of that two-man, strong-armed tactic; for such an important task, only the best man would do.
A best man around AD 200 carried more than a ring. Since there remained the real threat of the bride's family attempting to forcibly gain her return, the best man stayed by the groom's side throughout the marriage ceremony, alert and armed. He also might serve as a sentry outside the newlyweds' home. Of course, much of this is German folklore, but it is not without written documentation and physical artifacts. For instance, the threat of recapture by the bride's family was perceived as so genuine that beneath the church altars of many early peoples -including the Huns, the Goths, the Visigoths, and the Vandals - lay an arsenal of clubs, knives, and spears.
Children were originally included in the ceremony to add innocence.
Bridal party gifts and accessories available at KC&J, show your bridal party how much they mean to you!
The tradition of Love Tokens
Love tokens have been given to one another since early times. Today, it could be a poem or song written for the other, are some craft that you loving made for the other. The Pennsylvania Dutch had a charming custom. Couples gave one another hand crafted gifts, useful for their future home. Such things as cake molds, butter prints, carved spoon which were covered with symbols and announcements of their love for one another.
In medieval times, until at least the late 16th century, it was customary for a man to bend a copper coin and give it to his sweetheart as a token of his love and intention of marriage. They were never spent and were always carried by the woman as a demonstration of her loyalty and as a constant reminder to her each time she opened her purse. There was a difference between the good luck symbols and those given as love tokens however. Those bent to bring financial luck were usually just simply bent through the center, whereas those made for love were usually bowed or even cup shaped. The first settlers also took these customs to America and they survived into the 19th century.
In later centuries, especially the 18th and 19th centuries, coins were still used as love tokens. They were hand made; created by the young men to give to their sweethearts and in some instances were given by soldiers and sailors before they went abroad in case they were to die. These examples though were always flat. The poorer working classes usually made there love tokens from copper coins, although these were occasionally saved so a silver coin could be obtained. A wealthy man on the other hand would use a silver or even a gold coin. Love tokens vary in size from the cartwheel penny of George III, to the smaller farthings. They were simple to make, although a highly decorative piece was usually achieved. The coin was rubbed down, usually on both sides, until the monarch's head, Britannia and other details of design had been removed. The man then engraved or stamped his own pattern and wording onto the blank disc. When considered that most men who did this were low skilled and illiterate, some of the results are quite remarkable. The decorations varied from finely designed examples down to very crude ones. They included symbols of romance, such as hearts pierced with arrows. Cupid's bow and arrow, flowers, love birds and lovers' knots, with either the initials of the maker or the receiver.
In Victorian times a variety of love tokens were introduced. The waistcoat was fashionable as part of the male clothing and a watch was worn in one of the waistcoat pockets, often with coins hanging upon the watch chain. These were usually farthings, silver threepenny pieces or sometimes even sovereigns. The lower value coins sometimes had one side filed down and the name of a loved one engraved on it. All types, from all ages can be found with a metal detector and make a nice piece in a display case. I have found one so far; this being a sixpence of Elizabeth shaped as a love token. Maybe after reading this, you'll go out and find one!
Love tokens coins and modern "love-token" jewelry available at KC&J.
Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed...
Something Blue, and a Silver Sixpence in Her Shoe.
This good luck saying dates back to Victorian times and many brides try to arrange their wedding attire accordingly.
Something Old represents the link with the bride's family and the past. Many brides choose to wear a piece of antique family jewelry or a mother's or grandmother's wedding gown or handkerchief (see above).
Something New represents good fortune and success and her hopes for a bright future in her new life. The wedding gown is often chosen as the new item.
Something Borrowed is to remind the bride that friends and family will be there for her when help is needed. "Borrowing" is especially important, since it is to come from a happily married woman, thereby lending the bride some of her own marital bliss to carry into the new union.
Something Blue is the symbol of faithfulness and loyalty. Often the blue item is the garter. Brides of ancient Israel wore blue ribbons on the border of their wedding cloths to denote, love, modesty and fidelity. These are ideals still associated today with that color. Blue also denotes the purity of the Virgin Mary and is the most popular of all colors. In ancient Israel brides wore a blue ribbon in their hair to symbolize their fidelity
A Silver Sixpence in her Shoe is to wish the bride wealth. Some brides still place a penny in their shoe during the marriage ceremony.
This bridal custom is the most purely symbolic custom of all and its meaning has remained unchanged throughout the years.
Lucky Silver Sixpence and traditional wedding coins available at KC&J.
The tradition of the Handkerchief
The wedding handkerchief is often kept and passed down from mother to daughter and from generation to generation. Early farmers thought a bride's wedding day tears were lucky and brought rains for their crops. Later, a crying bride meant that she'd never shed another tear about her marriage. Today, we carry a handkerchief to dab away the tears of happiness and joy.
Here at KC&J we offer a special option for your wedding handkerchief. We honor the tradition of converting an heirloom handkerchief in to a baby bonnet, which can be passed down with this sweet poem...
"I am just a little hankie, as square as can be;
but with a stitch or two, they've made a bonnet out of me.
I'll be worn home from the hospital, and on special days,
and then I'll be carefully pressed and neatly packed away.
Then on the Wedding, I have been told,
every well dressed Bride must have something old.
So what would be more fitting than to find Little Old Me,
a few stitches snipped and a Wedding Handkerchief
I Will Be!
And if per chance, it is a boy, someday he still will Wed.
So to his Bride he can present
the special handkerchief once worn upon his head."
Bring in your your heirloom handkerchief to KC&J and we will customize a bonnet to pass down to your baby, grandchildren, and all those dear to your heart.
The Tradition of the Brides Boquet
The bride's bouquet carries many quaint traditions among the different peoples of the world. Orange blossoms, a favorite of many brides, were at one time, when the Saracens carried them, thought to be a symbol of fertility.
The carrying of flowers by the bride has its roots in ancient times when it was believed that strong smelling herbs and spices would ward off and drive away evil spirits, bad luck and ill health. Garlic and chives were also popular for the same reason. During Roman times, this tradition was extended, with the bride and groom wearing floral garlands signifying new life and hope for fertility. The bouquet in particular symbolized a women in bloom.
During Victorian times, flowers took on an additional significance as lovers would send messages to each other using different flowers, with each flower having its own meaning. These associations were soon adopted for the bride's bouquet and are still used today by many brides.
Traditionally, the bride's bouquet is made of white flowers such as orchids, roses, lilies, gardenias, carnations, or stephanotis. Included in the bouquet are fillers like ferns and baby's breath or ivy to give that touch of green.
Tossing The Bridal Bouquet
Tossing of the bridal bouquet is a custom which has its roots in England. It was believed that the bride could pass along good fortune to others. In order to obtain this fortune, spectators would try to tear away pieces of the bride's clothing and flowers. In an attempt to get away, the bride would toss her bouquet into the crowd. Tradition says that the single women who catches the bouquet is the one who receives the bride's fortune and will marry next.
The above photo is of KC&J's ribbon and swarovski crystal wedding bouquet. Perfect for a destination wedding, the wedding rehearsal, or a tossing bouquet!
The tradition of the Toast
Toasting comes from an ancient French custom of placing bread in the bottom of the glass - a good toaster drained the drink to get the "toast." According to legend, when a bride and groom drink their wedding toast, whoever finishes first will rule the family.
A very lovely English toast goes like this:
Love, be true to her,
Life, be dear to her,
Health, stay close to her,
Joy, draw near to her,
Fortune, find what you can do for her,
Search your treasure house through for her
Follow her footsteps the wide world over
And keep her husband always her lover.
Modern weddings are more than just a ceremony and reception, they're a party! Why not celebrate with KC&J's bride and groom toasting, beer, and shot glasses!
The tradition of the Garter Toss
This ritual dates back to a time before woman wore hose with a garter belt. It was a chance for the single men to share in the good fortune of the groom. Today, it is believed that the man who catches the garter when it is thrown will be the next to marry. In the 14th century, is was customary for the bride to toss her garter to the men, but sometimes the men got too drunk, and would become impatient and try to take the garter off her ahead of time.
Collegiate, Classic, and Glamorous garters available at KC&J.