If, however, they saw goats, pigeons or wolves these were good omens which would bring good fortune to the marriage.
It was thought unlucky for a woman to marry a man whose surname began with the same letter as hers. The sentiment was summarised in the following rhyme: “To change the name and not the letter, is to change the worst and not the better.”
The bride should not practise writing her new name before the wedding. This is thought to bring bad luck by tempting fate.
Choosing the day
Although most weddings take place on a Saturday it was considered unlucky in the past. Fridays were also considered unlucky particularly Friday the 13th. The famous old rhyme advises a wedding in the first half of the week: “Monday for wealth, Tuesday for health, Wednesday the best day of all, Thursday for losses, Friday for crosses, Saturday for no luck at all.”
The wedding dress
It is thought unlucky for the bride to make her own wedding dress. It is also unlucky for the groom to see the bride in her wedding dress before until she arrives the ceremony.
The bride should not wear her entire outfit before the wedding day. Some brides leave a final stitch on the dress undone until it is time to leave for the ceremony when the outfit is completed.
Traditionally, brides have been thought to be particularly vulnerable to evil spirits and many of the customs and traditions associated with weddings are to provide protection.
A combination of red and white flowers is avoided by the superstitious because they stand for blood and bandages.
The groom often chooses a flower for his buttonhole which also occurs in the bride’s bouquet. This is a vestige of the time when a knight would wear his lady’s colour to display his love.
On the way the wedding
When the bride is ready to leave the hose for the wedding ceremony a last look in the mirror will bring her good luck. However returning to the mirror once she has began her journey will result in bad luck.
Seeing a chimney sweep on the way to a wedding is thought to bring good luck and it is still possible to hire one to attend wedding ceremonies. Other good luck omens when seen on the way to the ceremony include spiders, black cats and rainbows.
Bad weather on the way to the wedding is thought to be an omen of an unhappy marriage, although in some cultures rain is considered a good omen. Cloudy skies and wind are believed to cause stormy marriages, snow on the other hand is associated with fertility and wealth.
Bridesmaids were dressed in a similar way to the bride. The bridesmaids were thought to act as decoys to confuse evil spirits and thus protect the bride.
The couple’s first purchase
It is said that the first partner who buys a new item after the wedding will be the dominant one in the relationship. Many brides ensure that they make the first purchase by arranging to buy a small item such as a pin from a bridesmaid immediately after the ceremony.