Horseshoes have always been considered a lucky omen for couples on their wedding day. In the past, a horseshoe was given to commemorate the wedding day. A page boy would present a bride with a horseshoe (silver) as she leaves the church. Although the shape and designs have evolved since the original conception hundreds of years ago, the meaning remains the same. Most of the designs come close to the original shape (the crescent moon) although in recent years alternatives have been provided.
Let’s take a look at the history of wedding horseshoes and how they have been replaced over the years with other meaningful objects.
What does a wedding horseshoe symbolize?
A wedding horseshoe a symbol of good luck. In ancient times, horseshoes were considered to be a lucky trade. It was also believed that if a couple was married by a blacksmith, the marriage would be a happy one. Other than that, a horseshoe had seven holes etched into the design. Seven being a popular lucky number in times gone by. Some used to liken them to the seven colors of the rainbow, seven seas, seven days of the week, etc.
Another striking characteristic of the horseshoe is that it is traditionally made of iron. When popularised, iron was considered one of the strongest materials and could withstand fire. Furthermore, a horseshoe also worked as a lucky charm that wards off evil spirits. Moreover, in other ancient cultures such as ancient Greece, the horseshoe could bestow fertility to the new couple.
According to an Irish legend, there once lived a blacksmith named St. Dunstan. He used to make horseshoes when visited by the devil. The blacksmith recognized the devil had horseshoes on his hooves. But after suffering for a long time, the devil asked if they be removed. The story proceeds to say that the devil promised never to return to the house after he saw the shoes hanging on the door. That’s how people started hanging horseshoes on the door. A symbol to keep evil away.
A horseshoe is also considered romantic. Even with expansion on the original version, there is something unique about this shoe. It’s a keepsake that can be passed down through the generations.
Which way should the horseshoe hang?
After gifting the bride a horseshoe, the next task is to decide how to hang it correctly and securely at home. Generally speaking, the horseshoe should hang on the front door as a protective symbol. This is where most of the energy flows. However, a bride can hang it at any location she’s happy with.
Although the way you hang the horseshoe is all about personal preference, most folks choose to hang it with the open end up. Think of it as the shape of a cup. Once the heel faces up, the home is filled with good luck.
If you hang the horseshoe upside down, you’ll be sharing the good luck with other people who pass through your home. But again, there’s no problem hanging the horseshoe upside down. It’s all about deciding which legend to believe in.
If hanging is not your style, you can store it in your keepsake box. You can also add it to your other wedding trinkets.When do you give the horseshoe?
A horseshoe is given to the bride as she makes her way out from the church or after the couple is declared “Mr. & Mrs”. Most folks like to take photos at this stage and create memories.
In some traditions, the horseshoe is presented by younger children at the wedding. If the ceremony was not held in the church, the bride holds the shoestring with her banquet as she walks out of the venue. Still, the horseshoe can be gifted by the bridesmaids as an honor of the big day.
Others present the horseshoe to the couple as they make the first walk down the aisle. If you’re not sure how the couple will react, it’s better to give the horseshoe as a gift instead of presenting it in front of the crowd.
Where to buy a wedding horseshoe?
There are a couple of ways you can buy a horseshoe. For instance, you buy a horseshoe by following the traditional route – simply walk to a horseshoe shop. That being said, in todays day and age you might find this hard to come by. You can also find handmade wedding horseshoes on selected online retail stores like Amazon or Etsy.
You don’t necessarily need an iron horseshoe. Some merchants will offer horseshoes made with paper ribbons and flowers.
If you’re planning to gift the bride a horseshoe, you can also make your own. All you need is a template that can be commonly found online. You can also decorate with some feathers and jewelry. The advantage of a DIY horseshoe is that you can use any material and color you want.
Alternatives to a wedding horseshoe
In the olden days, guests were customary to give the bride and groom various gifts on their wedding day as a token of good luck. The goods were objects that could ensure prosperity or fertility in both the marriage and the land. The horseshoe is one such tradition.
Many people may not know that horseshoes are not necessarily Christian symbols, as there are legends from many cultures worldwide that horseshoes have magical properties. In ancient Greece, they were said to ward off evil spirits, while in China, they were believed to bring good luck. Things have changed over time, and while some people still subscribe to the old ways, others have found alternative good luck gifts..
A wedding bell brings a harmonious and festive mood to the occasion, just like the ringing of church bells. Moreover, they are also believed to drive away evil spirits to protect the marriage. As a bonus, the newlyweds can display the bells in their home as a beautiful decoration and reminder of their special day and spruce up their home with some newlywed charm.
A Wooden Spoon
A decoratively love-carved spoon won’t only make a unique and lovely wedding gift, but it’s also a great good luck charm. It is said that the first person to use the spoon after it’s been gifted should be the one to stir the pot of the newlyweds’ first meal together. The couple can then display the spoon in their kitchen as a decoration and use it for cooking all their future meals together.
A Silver Sixpence
Giving a silver sixpence as a gift is an old English tradition that is said to bring the recipient good luck, wealth, and happiness. Although it’s not as common to carry silver coins anymore, you can easily find a sixpence coin online or at a local antique shop. You can also engrave the coin with a special message for the bride or the couple’s initials and wedding date.
A pair of candlesticks as a wedding gift represents the lighting of the way to a happy, prosperous future together. Candlesticks also make a great decoration for the couple’s home, and they can use them when they want to set a romantic mood or celebrate special occasions.
A Wooden Cutting Board
We discovered that some cultures believe it’s good luck to cut bread on a new cutting board because it symbolizes a prosperous future. If the couple loves to cook, they will appreciate this practical and meaningful gift.
The bride should keep a handful of sugar cubes in her purse on her wedding day to sweeten the marriage and life ahead. It is said that if the sugar cubes are eaten before the end of the day, it will bring the couple extra sweetness and happiness in their life together.
Plants are a universal symbol of a fresh start, new beginnings, and growth, making them a perfect good luck gift for a bride on her wedding day. Pine trees, in particular, are said to represent fertility, so they make an especially appropriate gift if the couple is hoping to start a family soon. Plus, they can plant the tree in their yard and watch it grow as their family does.
There are many different traditions around the world regarding wedding gifts and good luck charms. While some couples may stick with the classic horseshoe, others may opt for something with a little more personal meaning. Regardless of what you choose to give, the important thing is that it comes from the heart.
The modern meaning of a horseshoe is associated with St. Dunstan, a legend who lived in the 10th century. Today, the symbolism of the wedding horseshoe is attracting luck and keeping evil spirits away. And because of the U-shape, you may want to hang the horseshoe with the ribbons attached to the shoulders. Some say the horseshoe should not be turned upside down, but it’s all about how you see it. At the end of the day, it boils down to your taste and preference. Don’t see it as a superstitious charm but as wishing the bride some luck as she starts her married life.