Toronto Wedding Cakes

Toronto Wedding Cakes: Truffle Cake & Pastry

At Kimberfire our specialty is diamonds and diamond jewelry, which means many of our clients are getting engaged and/or married when we first meet them. Our ongoing blog series, in which we feature Toronto-based wedding insiders, was created with the intention of spreading the word on other amazing companies who can help you realize your dream wedding.

Recently I had the pleasure of meeting with Christina Wong of Truffle Cake & Pastry, a very popular Toronto cake and dessert company. Truffle Cake & Pastry’s stunning desserts have been featured in magazines such as WedLuxe, Elegant Wedding, Today’s Bride, Lavish Dulhan and Wedding Belles. They have also been showcased on “Breakfast Television”, “The Social”, and the blog “Style me Pretty”. On top of all that Truffle Cake & Pastry’s Instagram account is followed by over 13K followers who cannot get enough of her edible works of art. I wanted to learn more about Christina and her company.

Christina, please tell us a bit about yourself and your company Truffle Cake & Pastry.

I am a self-taught cake designer who followed a hobby-turned-passion into a small business. Truffle Cake & Pastry is where you come for customized cakes and sweets for anything from a dinner party with friends and family, to dessert tables for a gorgeous wedding!

How did you get started in this business, and how long has Truffle Cake & Pastry been open?

Truffle Cake & Pastry was a bit of a fluke; I went to University for Microbiology and Immunology! I started the business on the side of a full-time job not long after finishing school, about 11 years ago (wow, now I feel old). I have been running Truffle Cake & Pastry fulltime for almost 10 years. It all just started with weekend baking for fun. I would bring extras into work and people started asking me to bake for their family get-togethers, and my department would ask me to bake for departmental celebrations. Up until last year, I worked alone, with the occasional help from my wonderful family and friends. I was finally able to hire someone to help me last year… and it has definitely been a game changer.

How did your education and/or previous job experience prepare you for running a dessert business?

I was in a very demanding program at The University of Western Ontario so you had to be on your game and you had to make the most efficient use of your time as possible. That, along with clean lab techniques are the most important and relevant skills I learned that have been instrumental to running a business. A little further back, I went to an arts high school, which helped me with the fundamentals of colour and design!

What types of desserts do you provide? Do you offer any packages?

We make everything from classic chocolate chip cookies and cupcakes, to macarons and eclairs. We also create custom cakes for any and all occasions! Each order, each cake, and each dessert table is fully customized to the client’s needs and preferences so we don’t have any standard packages. I would say our flavours are based on classics, the flavours everyone is familiar with!

On average how many cakes do you create a year and how many of those are for weddings?

Each year is a little different, but if I had to guess I would estimate that we created about 200-250 cakes last year (some large, some small) with approximately 60 of those being for weddings. Some weddings even have multiple cakes!

Your cakes are so beautiful and creative. Where do you get your inspiration and ideas from?

Thank you so much! Inspiration comes from everywhere, nature, architecture, interior design. So much of what I have seen has probably been spun into a design element in some way, shape or form, and sometimes without me even realizing it, I’m sure. Other artists in the industry such as stationers, dress designers and florists are also always inspiring me with their creations.

What tips would you give to a couple who is looking for a wedding cake designer?

One of the main things I would say to keep in mind is to work with someone you feel comfortable and confident with. You want to click with the person you work with because you need to trust that they are going to create a gorgeous cake for your big day. And choose what you like! At almost every appointment I am asked what my most popular flavours are, and the truth is that you wont find one flavour that absolutely every guest will love, so pick flavours that you like most.

What is the most unique cake you have created?
Some of the most unique cakes we’ve done are sculpted cakes, which we don’t do too often. We’ve made a toilet and a unicorn… and both of those were pretty interesting! For weddings, the uniqueness comes from the personal touches – one cake we created had gold-foiled versions of continents tied into the design with little markers that highlighted the places the couple have travelled together.

Have you ever had something go wrong with a cake you were making, and how did you handle it?

Yes, absolutely! I think all cake designers have their war stories. If it’s still in the phase where I’m working on it in the kitchen, I can always find a way to fix it, even if it means literally staying up all night to make it right. Once we deliver the cake, the condition of the cake is out of our hands unfortunately, so due to environmental factors there has been a mishap or two. Last summer we had one such mishap where reverberation in the venue caused the cake to shift off the cake stand after hours of vibration and fall! It broke my heart to hear that and I actually left a social function to process what happened and figure out why. I worked with the couple, who were absolutely wonderful and understood that it was unfortunately due to the venue versus the cake structure, and we have created mini cakes of each of the flavours they had originally ordered for small celebrations they’ve had since then.

What is the most challenging aspect of your job?

There are a few, haha. I would say the most acutely stressful part is delivering the cake! While I can control my own driving, I can’t control other drivers who cut me off, and it’s not out of the ordinary to get honked at when turning a corner very slowly. The other challenging part, which I think is true for most entrepreneurs, is trying to create a work/life balance.

What is the most rewarding aspect of your job?

Although I absolutely love to hear that a client loved what we created for them, what I love even more than that is working with a client or family multiple times over the years as they celebrate life’s special occasions. To work with a couple from their engagement party through to the birthdays of their children is so amazing to me!

What is your favorite flavour of cake?

My personal favourite is chocolate raspberry.

How important is social media to your business?

While social media is important to be able show people the work we create, I also try not to take it too seriously as it’s so easy to get caught up in. It has been great for reaching new people though, and I do appreciate the followers we have! It’s a really nice feeling to think that people out there like our work.

What are some new and continuing trends for wedding cakes and desserts?

As many times as we’ve seen it before, blush and gold is still going strong. I can’t blame brides though, it’s so pretty! The floral arrangements on cakes are becoming a little looser, more organic feeling, and I love it.

What sets Truffle Cake & Pastry apart from the competition?

I have a bit of a hard time with this question, partially because I really like to look at our ‘competition’ more as colleagues. We all offer a slightly different personal experience to our clients, different flavours and design style; but there is a right fit for anyone out there looking for cake. Truffle Cakes & Pastry’s style is romantic but clean, and our dessert tables focus on the details.

Having been a part of so many weddings, what advice can you give to couples on how to get the most out of their big day?

Plan all the details you’d like (and don’t lose sight of your own preferences in the process) but once the day starts try to let go of the little things, let things happen as they will and soak up every minute! I hear it goes by in a blur. You don’t want to miss out on it by stressing about that one small detail that is out of place.

Thank you so much for sharing with us! I look forward to seeing more beautiful designs of yours on Instagram.

Thank you so much!

Truffle Cake and Pastry’s Instagram is @trufflecakeandpastry and you can contact Christina at TruffleToronto.com.

Toronto Wedding Photographer Mango Studios

Toronto Wedding Photographer: Mango Studios

Here at Kimberfire diamonds are our passion, and there is nothing more beautiful than seeing a diamond become part of an engagement or wedding ring. It is so rewarding to be able to play a role in our clients’ engagement and wedding day. Jewelry is just one of many aspects of the wedding industry and, through our blog, we enjoy meeting and learning about other companies in our industry. Our interviews also provide valuable information and tips from the experts to help you make the most of your big day.

Recently I had the opportunity to interview the team at Mango Studios, a Toronto wedding photography studio with offices in downtown Toronto and Miami, USA. Mango Studios is a tight knit team of award winning photographers and artists, with over a decade of wedding experience. They also photographed our CEO Jonathan Goldberg’s wedding last year and he was blown away by their impressive work.

Could you please give us a brief overview of Mango Studios and your services?

Mango’s goal is to produce beautiful and timeless photography for its clients. We aim to do this through a collaborative effort of creative artists and individuals who band together to leverage their own unique abilities to create better work together.

At Mango, we believe in teamwork, supporting and encouraging new ideas, and striving to be and do better every day. We all come from different backgrounds and have our own unique set of skills and creative frameworks. Together, we share an enormous wealth of knowledge and passion for photography. We are curators and creators of the most beautiful, timeless images. We are there to capture the most special moments in your life so you can cherish those photos forever. We have photographers who specialize in all areas of photography – from portrait and event photographers to interior and product photographers. We also offer a wide range of in-house design and custom framing services.

How did Mango Studios get started, and how long have you been in business?

Mo and Nancy first met in 2004 and have been inseparable ever since. Pairing Nancy’s visual talent with Mo’s business acumen, they decided to conquer the world together. They wrote down the letters of their own names and realized Mo And Nancy GOvindji shaped MANGO, and the rest is history. Mango has been capturing weddings and events for over 12 years!

What kinds of packages does Mango Studios offer?

We’ve got something for everyone. All of our packages have been created to offer the best options for your special day. Our packages start from six hours of photography all the way up to twelve, but everything can be fully customized to suit each individual client. We also offer time with photographers à la carte, meaning they can be easily added to packages. For the couple that wants to be taken care of from start to finish, we offer packages that include fine art albums, engagement sessions, and photo booths.

How did previous education and/or work experience help shape the Mango business model?

The entire team has a diverse background in both education and work experience, from the university educated to the self-taught photographer. We look for special people with a passion for the arts, who love people, and remain calm under pressure – all attributes necessary to shoot a busy wedding day. There is a degree of competitiveness to the team, and, as iron sharpens iron, every team member strives to do better in every shoot. We take turns designing with each-others’ images and reviewing shoots so that feedback can be circulated, and the quality Mango is known for can be achieved. What’s most important is that every member of our team is highly trained in-house. As a team, we believe in growing together and toward the best creative style to suit our couples’ needs.

How would you describe the Mango photography style?

Like any creative field, photography is always evolving. We believe a strong relationship between photography and design is the foundation to creating incredible images. This plays a huge part in our photographic style. We accomplish our unique approach of storytelling through this fundamental stage of getting to know you and your unique story. We focus on capturing every detail of your wedding day or event, while being sure to get candid moments and memories that will last forever. Trends come and go but what we’re after is a classic, timeless approach to creating images to withstand those passing trends, and that is how we groom our team.

What tips can you give to a couple who is looking for a wedding photographer?

Don’t be afraid to ask questions. This is a big decision and it’s important to do your research and make sure you can trust your photographer, and be confident and excited about the photos they take. Some important tips are:

  • Find out what happens in case of an emergency and the photographer is no longer available for your day.
  • What do turnaround times look like?
  • Look at a couple of COMPLETE weddings to really get a sense of the work, not just a few photos of their best work.
  • Find out how long have they been in business, and if you know any friends/family/other vendors that have used them. There are plenty of novice part-time photographers that may be in business one year and not the next.

I see your company often travels to shoot destination weddings. What’s your process when shooting abroad?

Our team loves to travel, and each destination wedding brings with it a new and exciting experience. In terms of locations, we love travelling to new (to us) spots like the mountainsides of Florence, or the Island of Anguilla. We’re happy to say there are some locations now that are becoming old favourites like the One and Only Club in the Bahamas, or the Four Seasons in Hampshire, England. Like any local wedding, every destination wedding is unique and we treat the process of shooting it as such. We do our best to ensure lots of scouting online and in-person before the event day. One of the most important things when visiting a new country is to familiarize yourself with the light there. It can look wildly different from one country to the next and, as a photographer, understanding light is everything.

How do you help the couple and their wedding party feel comfortable in front of a camera?

We totally realize that not everyone feels comfortable and confident being photographed, and that is completely normal. Our job is to make sure that we capture your event perfectly, that your photos turn out amazing and that you have some fun along the way. Doing engagement photos is such a great way for the bride and groom to not only feel comfortable being photographed, but to also really get to know their photographer. We aren’t there to make you look posed, but more so to prompt you so we can get those perfect shots.

Mango Studios works with a team of photographers, artists and designers. How do you decide which team member works on which wedding?

Mango has a consistent photographic style across the board. Our in-house event coordinators meet with our couples to learn more about the details of their big day. Once we get to know our couple, the venue, and all the details of the day, we pair them with the photographer that we believe best suits the couple as well as the overall vibe of the wedding.

Being a huge dog lover myself, please tell me more about Bernie the Boston Terrier, your social director.

Bernie is a lover. If he could greet everyone who came through our doors with kisses, he would. He definitely likes to make his presence known around the studio, especially during lunch time when he can be a little nosey. As our social director, he keeps us sane during our busiest times and shows the whole team love after a long day. His likes: ping pong balls, balloons and bean bag chair naps.  His dislikes: measuring tape and knit sweaters.

How big a part does social media play in your business?

Social media is such a huge part of our business! Long before a couple gets engaged, they often take to social media to search for vendors and get inspired. We are constantly on all social media channels, updating our content to reflect the Mango brand and showcase our work. It’s the great connector of our time. We love to use social media as a tool to connect with other amazing vendors in the wedding industry and couples around the world.

What is the most challenging aspect of working in the wedding photography business?

Truthfully, it’s the work/life balance. Weddings and events can take up most of our Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays during the busy months of May to October, and that can be a challenge for some. Our team is dedicated to providing our best work with the quickest turnaround times possible, so we’re also hustling Monday to Friday to deliver amazing images to our couples. We foster an environment that’s fun for our team with lots of amazing moments spent together on a regular basis.

What sets Mango Studios apart from the competition?

We’re storytellers first and foremost. Our approach is driven by each couple’s unique story, who they are, and their personal tastes and design interests. It’s driven by what music they listen to, where they eat and the places they travel. Each story is unique, and our approach is timeless and cool with a distinctly cinematic style. As a small boutique of photographers and designers, we treat each member of our team as well as each of our clients like family. From the moment you step into our studio, you will be greeted by a dedicated event coordinator who will walk you through the entire wedding photography process. We want to create an inviting atmosphere and take photos that truly capture our couples as the individuals they are.

Having been a part of so many weddings, what advice can you give to a couple to get the most out of their big day?

It’s going to be the most exciting day of your life, so savour and cherish every moment. Don’t sweat the small stuff; things most likely won’t go as perfectly planned but don’t get bothered by it. It’s going to be a very busy day, but do your best to spend some quality time together as husband and wife if you can. Take a few moments to stop, take a deep breath, and remember how special it is that every person in the room is there to celebrate you and your love!

Thank you so much for taking the time to share your company and insights with us.

Thank you, it’s been our pleasure.

If you are interested in learning more about Mango Studios or booking them for a wedding or event, please visit MangoStudios.com.

St. Royal Entertainment performance photos

Toronto Wedding Band: St. Royal Entertainment

At Kimberfire we specialize in diamonds and diamond jewelry, which means we play a part in many people’s marriages. We work with our clients from their engagement and wedding rings, to gifts for the big day. Working within the wedding industry is very special for a business because it means that people trust you enough to be a part of one of the most important days of their lives. We are interested in exploring other businesses that work in the wedding industry and learning how they are successful, as well as providing insider tips that will help anyone who is planning their own wedding.

Recently I spoke with Andrew St. Royal, who is the founder and owner of St. Royal Entertainment, a company that provides musical event entertainment based out of Toronto. I actually had the pleasure of watching his company in action, as they provided the live music and entertainment for our CEO Jonathan Goldberg’s wedding. I was extremely impressed with their talent and professionalism and wanted to learn more about what they do.

Andrew, please tell us a bit about yourself and your business.

My education background is in civil engineering. After school I went on a work/travel trip to South Korea and ended up spending 8 years abroad between Korea and Australia. During that period, I was leading and performing in various different bands as a musician. By late 2010 I had developed the idea for St. Royal and returned to Toronto ready to turn my passions into a business.

St. Royal Entertainment provides everything music for special events. We have a huge stable of talented performers, musicians and DJs that perform in many styles and configurations. Our sister company, St. Royal Production provides audiovisual & show production elements like lighting, staging, sound systems, live video and 3D CAD modelling to support the entertainment and event needs.

How many years have you been in business?

St. Royal Entertainment is five and half years old and St. Royal Production is three and a half. The company started as a single 7-piece live band and our first performance was at a friend’s wedding. I was so nervous that night I didn’t sleep at all! Since then we have done over 400 events.

On average, how many events do you perform in a year?

We’ve been growing every year since we started in 2011. We’re doing about 150 events this year and of that about 70% are weddings, and 30% are corporate events, private parties, fundraisers and brand activations.

How would you describe the St. Royals Bands’ musical style?

The St. Royals Bands are well known as Toronto’s Kings of Soul! Their repertoire of Soul, R&B, Funk, Motown, Pop and Top 40 is designed to move people. It’s a great variety that we know both younger and older generations will enjoy dancing to.

What tips would you give to a couple who are starting their search for a wedding band or DJ?

Music is key to a great event so look for good references and try to see bands live. Look out for signs of disorganization or artists who are too laid back about the performance. A wedding is a once-in-a-lifetime event so look for someone you can trust!

What is the most unique wedding you have performed at?

We’ve done some acoustic camp-fire style weddings, weddings for celebrities and athletes and have played at so many venues across Ontario and New York State. Each wedding is unique due to the makeup of the guest list, the music tastes of the clients, and inevitably the flow of energy from ceremony to dance floor always has its nuances. That’s why it’s so important to get the music right.

Have you ever had something go wrong the day of an event, and how did you handle it?

One time in the early days we were performing at a private residence and the fuse blew for the power circuit the band was on! The band was quick to realize, and the horns and drummer started an impromptu acoustic version of some New Orleans brass tunes while we investigated the issue. It turned out the photographer had setup some big lights on the same circuit as the band which overloaded the circuit. Our on-site tech worked it out quickly and we were back on in no time and the party never stopped! Since then we’ve become much better at identifying power needs and we often provide generators for venues via our audiovisual sister company, St. Royal Production.

What is the most challenging aspect of your job?

Being an entrepreneur means you have to do everything. I’ve definitely had to improve my accounting and bookkeeping knowledge over the years but for sure time management is the most challenging aspect of running a dynamic and growing business.

What is the most rewarding aspect of your job?

It feels amazing to receive praise and accolades from clients after a great event. There is so much planning and build up to these events, and weddings in particular. It is so rewarding to hear from our clients that we exceeded their expectations and they have a celebratory memory to last a lifetime.

How do you help motivate a crowd if people aren’t dancing on the dance floor?

Our primary objective once the party has started is to get a crowd moving. Our performers have lots of experience with this and our band’s repertoire is deliberately designed to be multi-generationally friendly. One tip that I always give to our clients is make sure the bar is as close to the dance floor as possible. Some venues have the main bar quite far from the dance floor or in another room. This is a party killer! No matter how good the entertainment is people will naturally gravitate to the bar so move it closer or setup a temporary bar and voila! The party will stay right where you want it.

How much does social media play a part of your business?

Social media is mandatory for any business. We use our social media to promote our showcases and public events, which in turn generates a lot of good awareness for the company. We also actively post live content from our bands on our YouTube channel to let everyone see the full talents of the St. Royal Family.

What sets your company apart from the competition?

Our approach to music design and our client service is the big difference. Our mission is to guide the flow of energy at an event to a peak, usually on the dance floor. We approach music with the objective of using it to steer the movement at an event and to progressively build throughout the evening. Through consultations with our client we aim to plan music and moments to a great degree of detail and to give our clients a true feeling of peace of mind when it comes to the music – so that they can enjoy the moment along with their guests.

Having been a part of so many weddings, what advice can you give to a couple on how to get the most out of their big day?

Make sure you enjoy the moment! The way to do this is by choosing vendors that are worthy of your trust, and then develop that trusting relationship. The couples who build a good team of vendors around them, and who are willing to trust them with the execution end up being able to live in each special moment and authentically enjoy it along with their guests. They will be more present, and they will truly enjoy the celebration, as opposed to worrying about something on their wedding day.

Thank you so much for sharing your business and your experiences with us.

Thank you!

If you are interested in learning more about St. Royal Entertainment or booking them for a wedding or event, please visit StRoyalEntertainment.com.

Wedding Vow Renewal

We Do, Take Two: Renewing Your Wedding Vows

A wedding day is a most special day, when a couple proclaims to the world that they will love and remain committed to each other for the rest of their lives. After the wedding the couple begins married life with one another, and together they experience all the good and (sometimes bad) moments that come their way. Hopefully amidst all of life’s ups and downs they will still love each other as much as the day they said “I do”. Many couples want to celebrate the fact that their love has lasted, and one way they are doing this is by holding a wedding vow renewal ceremony. Let’s take a look at all you need to know about renewing your wedding vows.

Reasons to Renew

Couples have many different reasons for wanting to renew their vows and there is no right or wrong reason to do so. Some choose to do so after a significant wedding anniversary, such as 5, 10, or 25 years of marriage, to show that even though time has passed their feelings have not changed. Some couples who’ve eloped, or who had a very small number of guests for their original wedding, want to hold a celebration with all the people who weren’t able to be there the first time. Other couples had huge elaborate weddings the first time, and want an intimate ceremony to renew their vows. Certain couples may feel their original wedding was a disaster or they didn’t have the money to do it the way they really wanted, and a renewal ceremony can be exactly what they need. There are couples that have had to overcome a hard time in their marriage, whether illness, financial, or personal hardship, and they want to renew their vows and say that they still choose to be together. The reasons for wanting to renew your wedding vows are very personal and there is only one real reason you need – because you want to!

Who’s Hosting?

Vow renewal ceremonies are typically hosted by the couple who is renewing their vows, or sometimes by the couple’s adult children. You can invite people formally by invitations in the mail, or more casually by email, depending on how fancy or casual the ceremony will be.

The Location

The location of the ceremony can be anywhere you want it to be. It can be at a favourite restaurant, or at an elegant hall. It could be a backyard BBQ or an all-inclusive vacation. Because it is not a legally binding ceremony (that’s what the wedding was for), there are no limitations where your renewal can take place.

The Guests

It is generally considered unnecessary to have bridesmaids and groomsmen for a renewal ceremony, as it is not supposed to be a recreation of the original wedding. However, having the people from your original wedding party attend your renewal is more than welcome. If you have children or grandchildren, it is a very sweet gesture to involve them in the service. You may pick whomever you please to officiate the ceremony as, mentioned previously, it isn’t legally binding. You could pick a family member, friend, or religious figure, the choice is up to you. Some couples choose to have a ceremony with just the two of them, perhaps while away on vacation, while others want friends and family there. Generally, you don’t need to invite co-workers or acquaintances to the renewal, only people who are very close to you as a couple.

What to Wear

For the outfits there are no rules at all. Woman can wear a white dress, or they can wear any other coloured dress of their choosing. Or maybe it doesn’t have to be a dress at all! Some women choose to wear a veil, others do not. Some choose to hold a bouquet, some don’t. The same freedom of attire goes for men, as they can wear a tuxedo, khakis, jeans, etc. The ceremony should reflect who you are, and you can wear whatever makes you feel the most beautiful and comfortable.

Proper Etiquette

Your renewal ceremony is not a second wedding, and so certain things are no longer necessary. You do not need a bachelor or bachelorette party, as you are not “celebrating” your last single days. You do not need to have a shower, as a wedding shower is to gift the bride with things for her married life. And you should not register for gifts for the ceremony. The gifts given to people at a wedding are to support them in starting their new life together. You and your partner already have a life together and should not expect friends and family to give you more. If people want to give you something of course that is ok, but it should not be an obligation.

The Ceremony

The couple can choose to walk down the aisle together, or they may choose to walk individually or with one of their children. Your vows should be very personal, and reflect the love that endures between you. Don’t focus your words on the hard times you may have gone through, but look positively towards the future. You may want to have an older married couple give you a blessing or some words of wisdom, or have your children read something they have written for you. The exchange of wedding rings is still a very popular part of the ceremony, as it signifies the exchange of love. Some couples choose to get their original bands engraved with a meaningful phrase or date, while others prefer to have new bands made for the renewal. And of course, every ceremony should end with a kiss.

Your Way

In the end, there are no hard rules for wedding vow renewals to follow. Your original wedding may have been influenced by traditions and family obligations, but your renewal ceremony is all about you as a couple. You have had time to grow together and truly become a team, and you have earned the right to hold the ceremony your way.

Wedding Traditions

The June Bride and Popular Wedding Traditions

Wedding season begins to really take off in the spring time. The invitations start rolling in and the calendar starts filling up. And those of us who have attended a wedding or two (or many!) have come to expect certain traditions throughout the wedding day. The bride will wear white and carry a bouquet, there will be a wedding party with bridesmaids and a best man, and there will be cake to eat and confetti to throw. And while we are all familiar with these customs, not many of us know where they originated from. Let’s take a trip back in time and find out where these traditions began.

The June Bride

The idea that June is the best month to get married dates back to Roman times, as June was the month of the God Juno and his wife Jupiter, the Goddess of marriage and childbirth. It also dates back to the times when most people lived off the land and depended on the harvests for survival. A June wedding meant that the woman would (hopefully) be newly pregnant in summer time and still able to help with manual work. And after a spring birth the mother would be in good enough health to help with the next summer harvest.

There is also a popular myth that in early medieval times people only bathed once a year, usually at the end of May or beginning of June, and they wanted to marry when they smelled their best.

Bridal Shower

The bridal shower originated in 16th century Holland. The story goes that a well off young woman fell in love with a poor man, instead of the wealthy man her father had chosen for her. Her father was so upset with her choice that he refused to pay her dowry. All the villagers came together and showered the young woman with gifts so she had enough of a dowry to marry the man she loved.

In Victorian times women would throw a small party for the bride to be and place small gifts they had brought into a parasol. They would then open the parasol above the bride’s head and she would be showered with gifts.

Bachelor Party

The bachelor party originated in Ancient Sparta and not much has changed since that time. Male friends of the groom to be would gather together for a feast to celebrate his last single night and would spend the night drinking and toasting.

The bachelorette party didn’t arise until the 1960’s with the start of the sexual revolution, when women also wanted one last single celebration.

Don’t Peek the Bride

It is a commonly held belief that it is bad luck for the groom to see his bride before the wedding. This tradition dates back to when most marriages were arranged by parents. The father of the bride didn’t want the groom to see his bride, in case the girl was unattractive and the groom decided to back out of the marriage contract.

White Wedding

The custom of the bride wearing white is not a very old one and, contrary to popular belief, is not in order to show the bride’s purity. It was Queen Victoria who started the trend of brides wearing white, at her wedding in 1840. Prior to this, royalty and the very wealthy would have dresses made in expensive fabrics such as silk, velvet, and fur dyed in rich and bold colours. Poorer brides would just wear the best dress they already owned. Queen Victoria chose white because it was the colour of a favorite lace of hers. After her wedding, wealthy women all over Europe began to ask for white wedding dresses to emulate the Queen, and the trend has lasted to this day!

Bridesmaids

This tradition comes from Ancient Rome, when the bridesmaids would be dressed identically to the bride to confuse evil spirits who might try to harm the bride on her wedding day. In Victorian times bridesmaids would wear short white dresses with short veils. By the 20th century only the bride would wear white, so as to stand out from the others.

The Best Man

This is believed to have originated from the Germanic Goths, when men would often steal their bride from a neighboring village and would need the help of their ‘best man’ to capture her. The best man also walked the bride up the aisle and stood beside her during the ceremony to ‘protect’ her from getting stolen back by her family.

The Bouquet

In ancient times brides wore or carried bouquets of herbs that had special meanings. Garlic was to cast off evil spirits, sage was for wisdom and dill was for lust. Flower girls would carry sheaves of wheat as a symbol of fertility. In medieval times the herbs had the added effect of covering unpleasant body odors.

Around the 1700’s people began carrying pretty bouquets of flowers, and the flowers held specific meanings. Roses were for love, ivy for fidelity, lilies for purity and orange blossoms for happiness.

The throwing of the bouquet started because brides were considered very lucky on their wedding day, and the guests wanted some of the luck to rub off onto them. They use to tear pieces off of the wedding dress to keep as a talisman of good luck. Brides were not fond of this tradition so they would throw their bouquet and garter to guests so that they could have a keepsake without tearing apart the dress.

Something Old, Something New

This is an Olde English Rhyme that states, “Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue, a silver sixpence in your shoe.” These stood for the five items a bride should carry on her wedding day. The something old is for continuity, new is for optimism, borrowed is for something borrowed from a happily married person so their good fortune will rub off and blue is for purity, love and fidelity. The silver sixpence was for good fortune.

Wedding Cake

In Ancient Rome bread was broken over the bride’s head for good fortune, and then the bride and groom would eat some of the crumbs and the guests would gather the rest for good luck. In medieval England cakes were stacked on top of each other as high as possible and the bride and groom would have to kiss over top of it. The cutting of the cake and the distribution of it was to be done only by the bride to ensure her fertility. Eventually cakes became so big and elaborate the groom had to help her, and before they would distribute it they would share a piece to symbolize their union.

Throwing Confetti

In Roman times guests of the wedding would throw grains of rice on the married couple to represent their fertility. In France, wheat was thrown at the couple for the same reason. Italians threw sugared almonds, which is where the word confetti came from. Eventually people began to throw flower petals, paper confetti or birdseed.

Honeymoon

This can be traced back to the 5th Century when people closely followed the lunar calendar. The newly married couple would be gifted mead (a type of honey ale) to drink during the first moon of their marriage. The first recorded description of the word honeymoon comes from 16th century and referred to the sweetness and happiness that would be experienced during the first month of marriage, but would only be for a fleeting time. The travel component started in 19th century Britain when the couple would travel with friends and family to visit those who were unable to attend the wedding.

Past Meets Present

It is so interesting to see how customs got their start, and how some have changed so much in meaning. Today marriage is a celebration of two people in love, but in the past was more of a contract to bring families together and bear offspring. The traditions reflect the social, religious and economic rules of the societies they came from. While I am glad there is more emphasis on love and romance in the weddings of today, I find it wonderful that certain customs continue on, bringing a bit of the past into the present day.