“The Folklore of Weddings and Marriages” selected and edited by Duncan Emrich; illustrated by Tomie dePaola


04.23.20 • 1:25 pm EDT | 0 responses |

As the month of May approaches, there is the first of June to follow and the sound of the wedding marches commencing as young men and woman walk down the aisle to meld their hearts and hands together…for a lifetime…maybe?

I have begun a headlong blog into ferreting out vintage Tomie dePaola books; many of which he did solely as illustrator.

This one is from 1970 and it’s a great little book, and by little, I mean it practically fits in the palm of ones hand.

It holds a treasure trove of accumulated traditional beliefs, customs superstitions, charms and omens concerning marriage and marriage ceremonies.

I couldn’t put the book down.

I kept trying to remember, after 47 years of marriage, and harking back to our wedding day, which ones we had sidestepped and which we had fallen into.

In the introduction it alludes to the fact that most, if not all, are found in the United States and “some few are purely American.”

The majority have their roots in Anglo-Saxon times and also in the times of Greece and Rome.

Some traditions are upheld today as a six pence or a new  dime should be  put into the bride’s left shoe for wealth and prosperity. I did the six pence!

I love this one:


Marry in May,

      You’ll rue the day.


  Married in the month of June,

     Life will be one honeymoon.


A bride must have her hair dressed and veil put on by a happily married woman.


Good luck will come to a bride if her veil is accidentally torn, or particularly if it is accidentally torn at the altar.


*I wonder is this holds true for catching fire as mine did as we were cutting the cake and the veil was a mite close to the candles as I bent down. One of the staff, quickly noticed and extinguished it.


The first one of a bridal couple who drinks water after the ceremony will rule. (Guess I lost that one.)


The bride who breaks something on her wedding day will quarrel with her mother-in-law, and the husband will side with his mother.


Did you know that the word “bridal” comes from “bride-ale?”


On the day of the wedding the bride and her family were permitted to sell ale especially made for the occasion. Selling the ale helped defray the cost of the festivities and added to their gaiety.


A mother-in-law’s test of her new daughter-in-law is to place a broom on the floor. If the bride removes it and put it to one side, she will be a good housewife; if she steps over it, she will be a bad housewife.

The throwing of an old shoe after a newly wedded couple brings them luck.

The bridesmaid who catches the bride’s bouquet will be the first to marry. If the bouquet should fall to the floor without being caught, it is an omen of bad luck for the bride.


Hey, I’ve got a great movie reference to that omen; it’s from a Bette Davis and Glenn Ford Movie from 1946 called “A Stolen Life.”

Bette plays twin sisters; Kate, a man trap steals and marries the the demure artist’s boyfriend. At the tossing of the bouquet, the betrayed twin, Pat, purposely steps aside so that the bridal bouquet falls to the ground as Kate tosses it directly to her. Kate’s look is priceless.

And the upshot is that the two sisters months hence, go out in a sailboat; storm ensues, and guess which one drowns and guess who tries to take the other’s place in a case of mistaken identity?

It all ends well as the Kate marriage was a sham which Pat finds out, posing as Kate. See the movie!

And now to the art. Tomie has done the cover jacket in the softest shade of a stonewashed blue that is muted and perfect. In a oval on the cover is a demure bride with her eyes shyly cast down and the mustachioed groom looking proud as a peacock.

Each of the penciled drawings are also in the same blue and are a perfect pitch emotionally to the particular custom, whether staid or suffused with laughter.

If you have a new bride in the family or even a young reader who loves dressing up as one, this book is the perfect complement to all the knowledge needed before, on and after the big day for not putting a foot wrong and for getting off on the right one.


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