History

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.

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.

 

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.