Wedding Traditions of the 18th Century

Updated November 21, 2016

A wedding is a ceremony in which two people unite in the institution of marriage. Throughout time, wedding customs and traditions have always varied between cultures, social classes, ethnic groups, religions and different periods in history. During the 18th century, many brides and grooms followed the various wedding traditions of the day.

Wedding Day

During the 18th century, many brides and grooms held certain suspicions regarding which day of the week was ideal to have a wedding ceremony. Mondays brought wealth, Tuesdays brought health, Wednesdays brought favour, Thursdays brought curses, Fridays brought crosses and losses and Saturdays brought bad luck. During that time, people also believed that snowfall on a wedding day brought the couple wealth and fertility.

Wedding Dress

People of the 18th century also followed many traditions for the brides wedding dress. The bride often wore a white dress to symbolise joy and making the right choice. To encourage good fortune, brides would sew the final stitch on the wedding dress directly before leaving for the church. The veil that accompanied the wedding dress served as protection from spirits while the bride was out of her soon-to-be husbands care.


The night before the wedding the bride, friends and family would participate in the Polterabend, an 18th century tradition in which the bride, friends and family would break all chipped glass or crockery and throw the broken dishes out of the windows. On the day of the wedding, the bride would then step over the pile of broken dishes to bring good luck.

Bride's Pie

A bride's pie was a popular dish filled with sweet breads, mutton or mince. Included in the pie was also a glass ring. According to an old adage of the day, the lady who found the glass ring would be the next to marry. Bride's pie eventually became extremely popular and often appeared as main centrepieces at various types of ceremonies and events.

Dancing of the Bridal Crown

During the reception, the bride would participate in the dancing of the bridal crown, a tradition in which the bride danced the wreath dance to symbolise the bride's maidenhood. During this traditional dance, married women danced around the bride in a circle until intruding groomsman broke the circle and stole the wreath. According to the tradition, any guest who took home portions of the broken wreath would be married within the year.

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