The white dove is traditionally shown on wedding plates, decorations, and even released after the ceremony. Where did the tradition of white doves and marriages begin?
First, a brief description of what doves are like. Doves mate for life and to show a willingness to work hard together. Both doves work together to build a nest. Next, when the mother lays the eggs, both the father and mother keep them warm. When the young chicks are born, both doves actively care for and tend to the new family members.
Beginning with the Egyptians, the dove was as symbol of quiet innocence. The Chinese felt the dove was a symbol of peace and long life.
To early Greeks and Romans, doves represented love and devotion, and care for a family. The dove was the sacred animal of Aphrodite and Venus, the goddesses of love. In these ancient cultures, the groom would give a dove to the bride, symbolizing his promise to help care for her and for the family as a full equal.
The Bible continued this symbolism, often referring to the dove as an animal representing love, loyalty, fidelity and honesty. The dove is entrusted with the olive branch when Noah hopes to find a new home for himself and his flock. The dove often also represents the Holy Spirit.
Over the years, the dove has become a common theme in just about every culture's wedding traditions. The two doves together, preparing to bond for life and raise a family, is a symbol that all people can understand and appreciate. Many couples use doves as a theme.
If you want to actually release birds, look into white pigeons instead. Doves are birds that are actively hunted by raptors, and are not very good at adjusting to new environments. If you released two real doves into your neighborhood, chances are they'd huddle in a tree until a hawk killed them. That's not very romantic!
If you are using the images of white doves to symbolize your love, know that you are participating in a tradition that spans many cultures and thousands of years.
Wedding Dove Artwork and Posters
Birds that Mate for Life