Crossing the Threshold

A discussion of the wedding custom of carrying the bride across the threshold.

Superstition:   The lore and symbolism surrounding the custom of carrying the bride across the threshold.

Origins:   Even the most unsuperstitious and least tradition-bound will stoop to observing the custom of having the groom carry his bride over the threshold.


Nowadays, that 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 the new Mrs. over.

This 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.

Barbara “tripping the light fantastic” Mikkelson

Last updated:   27 June 2005


  Sources 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.
Since 1994
A Word to Our Loyal Readers

Support Snopes and make a difference for readers everywhere.

  • David Mikkelson
  • Doreen Marchionni
  • David Emery
  • Bond Huberman
  • Jordan Liles
  • Alex Kasprak
  • Dan Evon
  • Dan MacGuill
  • Bethania Palma
  • Liz Donaldson
  • Vinny Green
  • Ryan Miller
  • Chris Reilly
  • Chad Ort
  • Elyssa Young

Most Snopes assignments begin when readers ask us, “Is this true?” Those tips launch our fact-checkers on sprints across a vast range of political, scientific, legal, historical, and visual information. We investigate as thoroughly and quickly as possible and relay what we learn. Then another question arrives, and the race starts again.

We do this work every day at no cost to you, but it is far from free to produce, and we cannot afford to slow down. To ensure Snopes endures — and grows to serve more readers — we need a different kind of tip: We need your financial support.

Support Snopes so we continue to pursue the facts — for you and anyone searching for answers.

Team Snopes