Today, it is still customary for the bride to stand on the groom's left at all stages of the day's proceedings. This custom dates from the time when the man used to kidnap his future bride, and sometimes had to cross swords with would-be rivals. By keeping hold of the bride with his left hand, he kept his right hand free to wield his sword.

La position de la mariée

Throwing rice as the couple emerge from the church symbolises prosperity and fertility for the newly-weds. This goes back to a very old pagan rite of throwing seeds over the newly-weds, seeds whose strength and, above all, fertility would thus automatically be transferred to them. Nowadays, confetti or petals, quite apart from their not inconsiderable visual appeal, are also reputed to drive "evil spirits" away from the newly-weds.

Lancer de riz

In 19th-century France, it was customary for the young wife to preserve her bridal garland under a glass dome mounted on a wooden base. This was the "Wedding Dome". The bride placed her garland or bouquet in it the day after the wedding, then added symbolic items to it over the years.

The dome was usually ordered by the bride's mother from the clockmaker, thus enabling the family to express their good wishes in the form of symbols. The presence of lime flowers was a symbol of fidelity, while vine flowers represented success. The presence of a mirror was also charged with meaning. For example, the number of diamond-shaped mirrors represented the children the family wished for the couple.

Le globe de mariée

The garter goes back to prehistoric times, with rock paintings depicting dancers wearing a garter. The garter also existed in Ancient Greece, where women slipped it on under their skirts to charm the male sex. In the Middle Ages it was more practical than aesthetic, being used to hold up men's hose and women's stockings.

But the tradition of wearing the garter actually comes from England. The Order of the Garter is one of the most important British orders of chivalry and one of the most prestigious in the world, considered to be the highest award for loyal service and military merit. The Order was created following a ball at which King Edward III of England danced with his lady-love, the Countess of Salisbury. The young Countess inadvertently let her garter drop. The gallant King is said to have picked it up and, to silence those who made fun of her, tied it around his own leg before declaring, "Messieurs, honni soit qui mal y pense" ("Shame on him who thinks evil of this"). He continued, "Those who are laughing now will be very honoured to wear one like this, for this ribbon will be held in such esteem that those who mock will themselves be eager to obtain one."

Today, the garter mainly symbolises purity and fidelity. In bygone times, the guests had to contribute financially to starting the newly-weds off in their married life, and so the bride would put her garter up for sale to the highest bidder. The higher went the bid, the higher rose the bride's dress. The winner had the honour of taking off the garter. This came about because the guests, long before wedding lists appeared, were expected to contribute financially to giving the newly-weds a start in life.