Fact Check

Crossing the Threshold: What's the Wedding Custom's Origin?

The tradition in which one partner carries the other over a doorway traces back to Roman times.

Published Jul 6, 2008

Updated Oct 5, 2022
Even the most unsuperstitious and least tradition-bound will stoop to observing the custom of having the groom carry his bride over the threshold after their wedding. (Getty Images)
Even the most unsuperstitious and least tradition-bound will stoop to observing the custom of having the groom carry his bride over the threshold after their wedding. (Image Via Getty Images)

Even the most unsuperstitious and least tradition-bound will stoop to observing the custom of "crossing the threshold" after a wedding — that is, one partner carries the other through a doorway to signify a new chapter.

Nowadays, the "threshold" has come to mean the doorway into their hotel room, but those who are going to an actual house should play it safe and treat both the main door and the door to the bedroom as important thresholds to hoist someone over.


circa 1945: A man carries his new bride in his arms over the threshold of their house. She wears a floral print dress with a hat and high heels. (Photo by James W. Welgos/Welgos/Getty Images)

This wedding tradition comes down to us from Roman times when observing it indicated that a bride sacrificed her virginity with appropriate reluctance in that she had to be carried to her deflowering, lest she get away if set down.

These days, most people just see the practice as a general luck-bringer, one possibly linked to any number of cautions against tripping over a threshold. By carrying the bride over this barrier, she at least is spared the possibility of tripping and thus triggering this particular brand of ill luck.

Sources:

Hole, Christina.   The Encyclopedia of Superstitions.

New York: Barnes & Noble, 1996.   ISBN 0-76070-228-4.   
Opie, Iona and Moira Tatem.   A Dictionary of Superstitions.

Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1989.   ISBN 0-19-282-916-5.   
Pickering, David.   Dictionary of Superstitions.

London: Cassell, 1995.   ISBN 0-304-345350.   
Tuleja, Tad.   Curious Customs.

New York: Harmony Books, 1987.   ISBN 0-517-56654-0.

Updates

This article was updated on June 27, 2005.

This page was updated to meet Snopes' current formatting and editing standards on Oct. 5, 2022.

David Mikkelson founded the site now known as snopes.com back in 1994.

Become
a Member

Your membership is the foundation of our sustainability and resilience.

Perks

Ad-Free Browsing on Snopes.com
Members-Only Newsletter
Cancel Anytime
default