Couples have been getting married for thousands of years, and many traditions associated with the ceremony began as ancient rituals to bless the marriage with fortune and children and to guard against evil. In the Middle Ages, marriage was regarded as so sacred and life-affirming that weddings were sometimes held in graveyards because it was believed that the ceremony could guard even against plagues.

Nowadays there tend to be far more practical, imaginative or simply romantic reasons for choosing a certain time, place or style of ceremony. The inevitable pressures of modern-day living and the expectations of family and friends also play their part in influencing the way the happy couple plan their wedding.

Taking a look at ancient traditions and superstitions, however, helps to explain some of today’s accepted practices, and when it comes to thinking of what style your wedding might take,
looking to the past might even provide some inspiration to let your imagination run free.


The choice of date for a wedding was very important. In ancient Rome May was thought unlucky because this was the month for remembering the dead and for the festival of the goddess of
chastity, while June was said to guarantee happiness because the month was named after Juno, the goddess of love and marriage.

Summer months were generally seen as a good time to marry. This was when the land was at its most fertile and the sun brought crops and fruit to harvest. In Scotland, brides used to walk with the sun
from east to west on the southern side of the church and then carry on walking three times around the church. This was said to transfer some of the sun’s powerful qualities to the bride.

Married when the year is new, always loving, kind and true.

When February birds do mate, you may wed nor dread your fate.

If you wed when March winds blow, joy and sorrow both you’ll know.

Marry in April when you can, joy for the maiden and for the man.

But marry in the month of May and you’ll surely rue the day.

Marry when June roses grow, over land and sea you’ll go.

They who in July do wed, must labour always for their bread.

Whoever wed in August be, many a change will surely see.

Marry in September’s shine, your living will be rich and fine.

If in October you do marry, love will come but riches tarry.

If you wed in bleak November, only joys will come, remember.

When December snows fall fast, marry and true love will last.


The day chosen for a wedding was considered just as important. Today, the most popular day is Saturday, but this was not always so. A traditional rhyme favoured the beginning of the week.

Married on Monday, you’ll have good health.
Married on Tuesday, you marry for wealth.
Married on Wednesday, the best day of all.
Married on Thursday, the bride will suffer losses.
Married on Friday, the bride will bear crosses.
Married on Saturday, for no luck at all.

Every four years, on 29 February, leap year day, women may make the marriage proposal. This custom dates back to the time when this date was not recognised by English law. Being a non-day, the usual rules of society did not apply, and so a woman was free to ask the man to marry her instead of waiting for him to propose. To marry at any time during a leap year was considered auspicious.

An Anglo- Saxon rhyme says:

Happy they’ll be that wed and wive, Within Leap Year; they’re sure to thrive.

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