Wedding Superstitions – Time of Day
I have heard many different wedding superstitions about the time of day a wedding ceremony should be held. Wedding Superstitions like “It’s bad luck to be married when the hands of the clock are on a downward motion (before the half hour), but good luck to be married when the hands of the clock are on an upward motion (after the half hour).”
Where do these wedding superstitions come from and what is the most traditional time to have a ceremony? Is there any wedding etiquette involved in setting the ceremony time?
You will be disappointed to hear that many popular wedding superstitions come from the fertile imaginations of wedding planning consultants!
The clock superstition is probably such an invention, since it first appears in the wedding planning literature around 1994. Even wedding “tradition and superstition” books from the 1980’s don’t mention this one.
If the custom is genuine, it dates from no earlier than the mid-1800s. Before railways became common, clock time was not particularly important to most people. The town hall might have a clock-or it might not-but most people looked at the sun or listened to the church bells to determine the time of day. Railway schedules made exact time much more important and led to the standardizing of time zones. Should anyone tell you that the custom dates from the Middle Ages-laugh. The canonical hours used then did not correspond to our 24-hour clocks and shifted with the seasons. So these Wedding Superstitions about time are probably just made up and passed on by wedding planners.
Wedding Etiquette does speak to the question of what time the ceremony should be, although in muted tones. In Hill’s Manual, one of the most popular etiquette sources of the 1880s, all but one of the sample wedding invitations show ceremony times that start on the hour.
By the 1920s, the most fashionable time for a formal Protestant wedding had become high noon. In the warmer south and west, fashionable Protestant weddings were more likely to be held in the cool of the evening. Catholic weddings were held as early in the morning as the participants could stand, thanks to the now-obsolete requirement that people fast from midnight until communion, and were usually somewhat less formal. However, until the 1950s, formal weddings were much less common than they are today, so weddings took place at all hours.
Today, there is no firm link between the formality of the wedding and the time of the ceremony. A less elaborate wedding is often most easily held earlier in the day, when no one expects a sit- down dinner and dancing… but formal weddings are held at all hours from late morning to early evening.
So what, you ask, is the point of the clock wedding superstitions? Since most churches set their ceremony times on the hour, trying to follow this superstition will just create a little more stress for the happy couple. However, if what counts is the time at which vows are exchanged, the superstition rewards those of us whose churches put a long liturgy-and a long homily-before the wedding ceremony itself. The more the minister drones, the luckier we’ll be according to these Wedding Superstitions!