August 15 is one of the most popular wedding dates this year (as it’s the only month in 2015 that the 15th falls on a Saturday). So if you’re toasting a happy couple this weekend, amuse yourself and your table companions with these lesser-known facts about matrimony.
1. The White Wedding Originated with Queen Victoria.
Most American brides choose to wear white, but not many know where that tradition comes from. When Queen Victoria married Prince Albert in 1840, she turned up her nose at the popular red color schemes of the era and decked herself out in a white satin number. For Victoria, the choice wasn’t meant to be a display of purity, but a show of her wealth: Since white was impossible to clean, this dress would certainly only be worn once—a luxury few could afford.
2. The Ring Finger Was Based on Poor Anatomical Understanding.
The Romans were a fierce, inventive bunch, but you wouldn’t want them lecturing at any universities: It’s believed that the practice of placing the wedding ring on the finger neighboring the pinky came from their belief that it contained a vein leading directly to the heart. While not true, it’s incredibly romantic, and that’s what’s important.
3. The Bride Used to Get the Cake Broken Over Her Head.
Couples normally don’t begin breaking things over each other’s heads until several years down the road. In Roman ceremonies, however, a cake made from wheat or barley was clunked over the bride’s noggin and the crumbs eaten by the groom to symbolize sharing. Later, in medieval England, the cakes were stacked in columns; newlyweds who could still manage to kiss over the towering pile were believed to have good luck.
4. The Threshold Was Meant to Contain Evil Spirits.
Carrying the bride over the “threshold” is more than just a good quad workout; it was originally intended to protect her from evil spirits lurking beneath the ground. It was also considered bad luck for a bride to trip when entering a home for the first time, so the groom would carry her as a preventative measure. (No word on what happened if he tripped.) A slightly less romantic version says that the ritual was intended to prevent the bride from deciding to run away.
5. Some Wedding Expenses Are Tax-Deductible.
Naturally, you’ll want to consult with a tax advisor before making any declarations—but some bills incurred from a union could be turned into write-offs. According to leading tax preparation services, donations of unwanted or unused decorations or leftover food can be itemized and deducted from your return. If the venue is considered a park or historical site, the fee may also be deductible; brides and bridesmaids can also gift dresses to charitable organizations. Sadly, you’re stuck eating the total cost of the DJ.
6. Planning One Can Be a Part-Time Job.
One survey of married couples found that 40 percent spent 10-15 hours every week planning the services. No wonder 74 percent said they proposed eloping at least once.
7. You Can Rent Your Dress.
The average cost of a wedding dress is roughly $1300 and can sometimes exceed $10,000, but you can trim a bit off your budget by opting for a rental. Services offer gowns starting at $450.
8. Utah Might Be the Cheapest State to Get Hitched.
According to research conducted by a leading wedding resource platform, Utah is among the most economical states when it comes to wedding costs: Couples spend an average of $15,000 in the area. In comparison, New Yorkers can spend over five times as much—$76,000—to get roughly the same amount of bliss.
9. Skip the Church—It’s Now Trendy to Get Married in a Funeral Home.
Some funeral homes are expanding their services to include wedding ceremonies. Why would couples be interested? Homes often have better, more flexible availability than reception halls and can also be cheaper to reserve. Either way, there’s going to be crying.
10. You Don’t Necessarily Have to Attend Your Own Wedding.
Brides or grooms in prison or the military can still organize and complete a wedding ceremony without actually being present. It’s called marriage by proxy, and it’s currently legal in just four states.
11. Plenty of Couples Get Married Underwater.
While a wedding ceremony held underwater might be a poor metaphor for beginning a union, many couples find the idea interesting enough that places in the Bahamas and other tropical destinations offer these services. Some even hold up signs saying “I do” while surrounded by sharks.
12. Your Wedding Might Soon be Photographed by a Drone.
Most couples opt for a professional photographer to capture what will presumably be the happiest day of their lives. While expensive cameras are a selling point, so are drones: Some services are now offering aerial shots from hovering machines that can capture an overhead view of arriving guests and the walk down the aisle.
13. A Bigger Wedding Might Mean a Happier Marriage.
A study by a major university quizzed married couples on a variety of subjects. Half of spouses with bigger weddings (formal affairs attended by over 150 people) tended to describe their marriage as good; those with less than 50 guests were less likely to report positive details. Researchers think a larger wedding might be a result of couples feeling more strongly about one another.
14. You Can Get Wedding Insurance.
Someone has to be liable for Uncle Frank. Couples worried about footing the bill for a mishap might want to consider wedding insurance, which is offered by many major providers and covers things like accidents, lousy weather, and even stolen gifts. (Again, a possible Uncle Frank issue.)
15. 40 Percent of All Weddings Are Someone’s Second.
Roughly half of all brides and grooms taking to the aisle have been married previously.