The term “wedding bells” has become an American colloquialism for the merger or marriage of two people or entities. In some instances it is used as to describe the merger of two companies as though they were getting married and it is often used in the place of a formal engagement announcement to speculate on the status of a relationship, as in “Are they hearing wedding bells?”
In decades past, when most people were married in churches, would ring out after the ceremony as another way to announce to the community that a wedding had taken place. The church’s often served as way of informing the community when something important had taken place.
More recently, wedding are used almost exclusively as decorations for weddings, usually at bridal showers or at receptions and not at the wedding itself. The most common icon for the decoration is a pair of connected at the top with a ribbon, signifying the uniting of two people in wedlock.
When used for decorating, the themselves are almost always white and tied with a silver ribbon, colors commemorating the visuals associated with a formal wedding.
In modern times, the phrase “hearing wedding bells” has come to mean that a relationship might be more serious than casual dating. With fewer and fewer couples resorting to the traditional engagement announcement and engagement party, especially when celebrities are involved, the tabloids often speculate about “hearing wedding bells.”
The colloquialism has also recently been expanded into the business world, for use when companies are considering a merger. This usually implies a mutually beneficial merger done with agreement from both companies
rather than a hostile takeover.
The implication is that like a couple that has chosen to marry; the companies involved have chosen to create a lifelong partnership and are thus “hearing wedding bells.”
Despite these more modern uses of the term, wedding is most appropriately used for the resounding, joyful peeling of the used to commemorate a marriage. This is still done in more traditional churches worldwide and is considered to be the formal ending of most weddings, announcing the formation of the receiving line for the bride and groom.
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