Many brides carry handkerchiefs on the day of the wedding. These may be intended to wipe away tears, but tradition is the most common reason for including this accessory. Hankies have been used since Roman times. The material and meaning has varied throughout history, but the hanky has remained a part of wedding ceremonies from that time until the present.
History of Handkerchiefs at Weddings
A precursor to the wedding handkerchief was found in Roman times. The handkerchief was wet with perfume. This was then used to wipe the face before the wedding. It was then worn over the shoulders or around the neck. The scent of the perfume could be smelled on the bride all day.
The tradition moved from Rome, to Venice and then to France. In France, the handkerchief was made with expensive fabrics. They were then embroidered and were considered a luxury item. Only royalty and the very wealthy had one. This tradition remained for hundreds of years. Now most brides use a hanky, regardless of their wealth or status.
Handkerchiefs were used by early farmers in America. They had a special significance. The tears of a bride on her wedding day were considered to be lucky. It was thought that the tears would bring rain to the crops. Another common belief was that a crying bride would never cry again about her marriage.
An embroidered wedding handkerchief can be embroidered with a variety of sentiments. The message will depend on who is carrying the handkerchief. You can find them embroidered with a variety of messages for the bride, groom, maid of honor or mothers. Personalized handkerchiefs can be embroidered with the names of the bride and the groom. A romantic message may be included under the names. Some phrases to use include: forever, always or till death do us part. A Tears of Joy handkerchief is a great choice for mothers.
Embroidery is also done to decorate the handkerchief. Depending on the amount and type of embroidery, these can be expensive. If you are buying a handkerchief that you hope will become an heirloom, you will want to have it embroidered. You can add a line with the names and date of the original bride and groom. Your granddaughter may love it.
Sometimes the wedding handkerchief becomes a family heirloom. Beautifully embroidered handkerchiefs can be used by the daughters and granddaughters of the bride. Some women like to use an heirloom hanky on their wedding day. Ask your mother and grandmother if they have one you can borrow. This would take care of two other traditions, something old and something borrowed.
Your wedding hanky can become an heirloom to pass on to your children. One unique idea is the Irish tradition of the magic handkerchief. The bride carries a beautiful and delicate handkerchief on her wedding day. Later when a baby is born, the hanky is sewn into a baby bonnet. This is often worn when the baby is baptized. When the baby grows up, the stitches can be removed for the baby’s wedding day.