Wedding Traditions & Symbols

Weddings are ancient rituals, shrouded in traditions and meaningful symbols. Most wedding traditions are frequently mentioned and adhered to, even if they original meaning is no longer well-known. We’ve shed some light on Australian wedding traditions and symbols, as well as wedding traditions that are known across the world.

Australian Wedding Traditions

Smoking Ceremony

Indigenous Australians believe that smoke has cleansing and healing properties, and can ward off evil spirits. Plants are burned in a fire, or a smudge stick is used, and the fragrant smoke is fanned over the couple.

Stone Ceremony

This Australian wedding tradition came about when the early settlers could not afford wedding rings. The bride and groom would each cast a stone into the river, which would represent them staying together forever as life ebbed and flowed around them.

Acknowledging the Land

The tradition of acknowledging who the land belonged to and those who came before you is thought to bring you good luck and allow you to start your marriage on a positive note.

Worldwide Wedding Traditions:

Something old, something new...

The special saying ‘something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue and a silver sixpence in her shoe’ holds symbolic meaning for a bride on her wedding day. It is an old and superstitious saying that has been carried on for years, after first being used in the Victorian era.

Something Old: This symbolises the continuity between the family of the bride and the past. A bride may choose to wear a family heirloom piece that has been carried down from generation to generation or simply an old item she holds closely to her heart.

Something New: As a bride enters the next phase in her life the tradition of having ‘something new’ on her wedding day is thought to represent her new life ahead. Typically a wedding dress is a bride’s chosen ‘something new’.

Something Borrowed: As a bride enters the next phase in her life the tradition of having ‘something new’ on her wedding day is thought to represent her new life ahead. Typically a wedding dress is a bride’s chosen ‘something new’.

Something Blue: The colour blue for many centuries has represented purity, love and modesty, virtues of a bride. The colour blue can be incorporated into a bride’s ensemble with an elegant blue hair accessory or blue ribbon tying the floral arrangement together. Consider blue nail polish or bold blue shoes for a modern take on the tradition.

Silver Sixpence: No longer commonly used, this part of the traditional rhyme would see a bride place a silver sixpence in her shoe in the hope it’d bring wealth and prosperity to the newlyweds, as well as some extra luck.

Where to Stand:

During the wedding ceremony, the bride traditionally stands to the left of the groom. This tradition comes about as it allowed the groom to use his left hand to hold his bride and right hand (sword hand) to fight off attackers that may try to take his bride away.


Following the wedding it was traditional for guests to throw rice at the bride and groom as they depart the venue. The rice was thought to bring luck and fertility. A myth from the Orient is that rice represented a full pantry, so throwing a handful at the couple demonstrated wishes of prosperity for the bride and groom. Rice is often replaced with colourful confetti, flower petals or bubbles nowadays for a great photo.

Wedding Gifts

Wedding gifts were once brought to the couple in the form of fruit, to encourage fertility. Nowadays guests bring gifts as a token of appreciation for the invitation, and to help set the newlyweds up in their new life together.


Favours were traditionally given in the form of five sugared almonds, to represent the sweet and bitter aspects of married life. Five are given to signify wealth, health, happiness, longevity and fertility.

Carrying Over the Threshold

This is a groom’s tradition where after the ceremony he carries his bride over the threshold to protect her from any evil spirits that may be present in the new home. It is bad luck for the bride to trip on the way in, so being carried eliminates this risk!