Traditions old and new

Recently, we shared on our Facebook page an infographic about wedding traditions and the stories or history behind them. We wanted to expand on what traditions we see in the weddings here and what new ones are being incorporated in the “I Do’s” here at the Vacaville Opera House.

Collage of photo with woman in wedding dressDresses... traditionally the length of the dress train and veil is determined by the location of the wedding. The Monarch or Royal train is the longest…think Princess Diana or Kate Middleton, it usually needs a flower girl or attendant to help while walking down the aisle. A Cathedral length gown (extending 22+ inches along the floor, these typically have a removable train or a bustle). A Chapel length train is usually 12-18 inches and is the most common train length. This train is elegant and doesn’t weigh you down during the day. For outdoor weddings a “Swish or Brush” train is a great option, it won’t get snagged or stuck as you walk down the aisle. This length is also a great choice for an indoor bride that doesn’t want something too fussy or over-the-top.

Favors… the favor is a small memento that you gift to the wedding guests as a Thank You for attending. One of the earliest accounts of a wedding favor dates back to 16th century England. At weddings of the time, couples using lace and ribbon would give love knots to their guests to represent the bond of love. Jordan Almonds that you see at so many weddings are actually a symbolic gift. This favor symbolizes life with the bitter taste of the almond, and the added sugarcoating shows the desire for the newlyweds’ life together to be filled with more sweet than bitter. At an Italian wedding 5 almonds are given to represent the following wishes for the couple; health, wealth, happiness, fertility and longevity.

Unity ceremonies...whether it is a candle…sand…knot-tying…or hand fasting ceremony…Many couples are incorporating a visual representation of the their new bond together.  While it isn’t required and some couples choose not to have an additional unity ceremony other than the vows they take, we see many couples that want an outward expression of their newly united life. Here are some ideas from unity ceremonies we have seen here at the Opera House.

Tying the knot

Hand Fasting is from the celtic heritage of Western Europe, and is comprised of tying the hands of the couple together with a rope or ribbon, as a visual representation of the joining in the commitment of marriage.

Jumping the Broom
originally was practiced by gypsies in Wales as a non-church ceremony, and became common practice by African-American slaves in the southern United States. Today, couples jump over a broom together to signify sweeping away of the old to make way for a new life together.



Unity Candles are commonplace in many wedding ceremonies. Typically two indivodual candles are lit at the beginning of the wedding ceremony by the mothers of the couple, or  significant family members. These candles burn during the ceremony and after the cows are recited by that couple, they each take one candle and join the flames to light a single larger candle to represent the joining of their lives together.


Sand Ceremonies are a twist on the unity candle ceremony. Many couples will choose sand of two colors and after their vows, or during wedding reception, the couple will pour the sand from two separate vessels into a single container. This represents the joining of their lives together. Couples may also include other prominent family members by having several colors of sand and having these family members join in the sand pouring. Each person pours in the sand resulting in a layered effect. Here are some ideas for Unity Sand Ceremony itemsSand Ceremony

Toasts… in ancient times, when neighboring clans, cities, or families were at war with each other, it was common practice to marry their children together to form a truce to end the fighting. At the banquet celebration, the bride’s father would drink from the communal wine pitcher first, to show that it wasn’t poisoned.  The term “toast” comes from the common practice of using a burnt piece of bread placed in the wine to remove the acidity of ancient wine, rendering it more pleasant to drink. Today, the toast is a way of celebrating the love of the couple united, and is performed traditionally by the Father of the Bride, or a family representative, the Best Man, and additionally the Maid of Honor



Seating at the ceremony… traditionally when entering the ceremony venue, the rule of thumb when picking the side to sit on was dependent on the religion of the ceremony. For a Christian ceremony, the bride’s family sits on the left, and the bride stands on the left at the altar. In a Jewish ceremony the bride and her family are on the right. Today, many couples do not have a preference and ask their guests to sit where they feel most comfortable. Still as tradition the couple’s families sit in the first few rows of the ceremony site.

With the sharing of ideas on Pinterest and so many wedding websites, many traditions that may have been associated with a certain culture have been added to weddings and receptions without ties to the original heritage. Whatever family or cultural traditions you observe at your wedding, they will make your special day original for you and your guests.

#VacavilleOperaHouseWedding #VacaOperaHouse #VacavilleOperaHouse









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