These days, weddings are more unique and personal than ever. From Harry Potter-inspired affairs to naked cakes to sneakers as bridal shoes, the alternatives are seemingly endless. But there are some traditions that continue to stick, even with the most unconventional of brides. Ever wonder where these customs actually came from? Us too. That’s why we turned to the experts on all things wedding-related at The Knot to fill us in. We sat down with Editor in Chief Kristen Maxwell Cooper to get a crash course in the history of bridal style staples.

Brit + Co: Okay, so why do you need something blue?

Kristen Maxwell Cooper: Something blue stands for purity, love, and fidelity and is really meant to bring luck to the bride. It originates from an Old English rhyme that outlines five good luck charms for a bride: “Something olde, something new, something borrowed, something blue, a sixpence in your shoe.” The sixpence in your shoe is mainly seen in Britain, but I actually hid a penny in my shoe on my wedding day as a nod to this custom!

B+C: Who popularized veils?

KMC: A wedding veil has many symbolic interpretations, but one original use was to protect brides from evil spirits. In more modern times, it came to be a symbol of modesty, and today, it’s more or less just a stylish accessory coming in all lengths and fabrics.

B+C: When and how did white become the standard for gowns?

KMC: Queen Victoria in 1840 was the first well-publicized bride to wear white at her wedding. But believe it or not, white wedding dresses didn’t become the norm until post World War II. Up until then, brides would simply invest in a beautiful dress they could wear again.

B+C: Why do rings go on the fourth finger of the left hand?

KMC: This dates back to the ancient Romans who believed there was a vein that ran from the left ring finger directly to the heart, so couples wore a ring as a symbol of their love on this lifeline. We now know there is no such vein, but the tradition stuck. 

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