Photo by Vicki Harris

Photo by Vicki Harris

Each week Albany Herald researcher Mary Braswell looks for interesting events, places and people from the past. You can contact her at (229) 888-9371 or mary.braswell@albanyherald.com.

May comes in fourth place among the most popular months for a wedding, according to many sources. June remains the number one favorite followed by September and August. Here is a look back at a wide variety of wedding-related information.

Traditions

* More about May/June weddings...Back in the day, couples often chose to marry in accordance with harvest time. Marrying in June meant an early summer pregnancy would still allow the wife to help out with the manual labor. It also meant she would have recovered sufficiently from childbirth to help out with the next season's planting, weeding and harvesting.

* "Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue" is a mantra often chanted to the bride. "Old" is a guarantee that the love and affection enjoyed before marriage will endure. "New" represents the success of a new life as a wife. "Borrowed" is a sign that friends will remain helpful when needed. "Blue" designates a bride's loyalty and devotion to her groom. There are several other explanations for this tradition, but none any better.

* The flowers carried by the bride are said to represent a fertile body and the promise of an abundance of children.

* Engagement and wedding rings are worn on the fourth finger of the left hand because it was once believed that a vein in that finger led directly to the heart.

* The dowry system, in which a bride brings valuables to the marriage, was to compensate for the burden undertaken by the groom of supporting his new wife. This is likely how the bridal shower tradition began.

* As the majority of men are right-handed, it is on the left side of the groom is where most brides stand for the wedding ceremony. This tradition dates back to a time when it may have been necessary for the groom to reach for his sword in order to keep another man from stealing his bride.

* The tissue paper insert in wedding invitations was originally used to blot ink and prevent smearing. Today, it is simply for looks.

* The tradition of wearing a white wedding dress gained popularity in the Victorian Age. Queen Victoria wore a beautiful white dress to marry her first cousin, Prince Albert in 1840. The Queen also dressed her bridesmaids in white-all 12 of them.

* In days before couples actually went somewhere after the wedding (other than home), it is said that to sweeten the marriage, the couple's family would paint honey on the door frame of their new home. The groom must then lift the bride so she would not slip or ruin her dress. And so, the word "honeymoon" was coined.

Superstitions (and there are many!)

* Vows should always be said when the hour hand is up on the clock.

* The bride is never supposed to practice walking down the aisle during the rehearsal or it will bring bad luck. It is best to have someone serve as a stand-in for rehearsal.

* A penny in your shoe insures wealth in the marriage.

* A week before the wedding, have a house cat eat out of your left shoe for good luck.

* The bride should step into the church with her right foot first to ensure good luck.

* When a bride makes her own wedding dress, for every stitch she sews she will cry a tear during her marriage.

* The bride should carry a match with her since that should keep love burning in her marriage.

* The bride should have all of her bridesmaids sign the bottom of her shoe before the wedding. At the end of the reception, the bridesmaid whose name is worn off the most will be the next to marry.

* If the groom's mother throws an old shoe over (not at) the new bride as they leave the ceremony location, the bride and her mother-in-law will be friends forever.

* "To change the name and not the letter, is to expect the worst and not the better." In other words, it is unlucky to marry a man whose last name begins with the same letter as that of the bride-to-be.

* It is said that if the younger of two sisters marries first, the older sister must dance in her bare feet at the wedding (or reception) or risk never finding a husband.

Around the world

* In Switzerland, a pine tree is planted at the home of the newlyweds as a sign of fertility and good fortune.

* In Kenya, an artist will paint the hands and nails of a new bride. The paint stays on for one year to show everyone the status of a newly married woman.

* The Greeks believe if a bride tucks a sugar cube in her glove, it will sweeten the marriage.

* Traditional Chinese brides wear red, which symbolizes joy and love. White is usually reserved for funerals.

* Navaho Indians, as well as many other cultures, face east for the wedding ceremony, as east is believed to be the direction of the future.

* In Asia, wearing robes with embroidered cranes symbolizes fidelity for the length of the marriage.

* In Egypt, it is not unusual for the bride's family to do all the cooking for a week after the wedding so the couple enjoy one another.

* In South Africa, it is common for the parents of both the bride and groom to carry fire from their hearths to light a new fire in the newlyweds' hearth.

* Moroccan women take a milk bath to purify themselves before the wedding ceremony.

* In many cultures the hands of the bride and groom are literally tied together to represent the couple's commitment to one another and their new bond. This is likely where the phrase "tying the knot" originated.

Quotes about marriage

* Marriage is an alliance entered into by a man who can't sleep with the window shut, and a woman who can't sleep with the window open. - George Bernard Shaw

* Marriage is the only war where you sleep with the enemy. - Unknown

* More marriages might survive if the partners realized that sometimes the better comes after the worse. - Doug Larson

* In every marriage more than a week old, there are grounds for divorce. The trick is to find, and continue to find, grounds for marriage. - Robert Anderson

* English Law prohibits a man from marrying his mother-in-law. This is our idea of useless legislation. - Unknown

* Matrimony is a process by which a grocer acquires an account the florist had. - Francis Rodman

* Marriage is a great institution, but I'm not ready for an institution. - Mae West

* Love seems the swiftest but it is the slowest of all growths. No man or woman really knows what perfect love is until they have been married a quarter of a century. - Mark Twain