Have you ever wondered where all our beloved wedding rituals began? The origins of some of the things we typically implement into our weddings are quite surprising and not as romantic as you might think, including the wedding itself.
The Wedding: There’s a lot of history here and most of it has nothing to do with love nor can it be covered in one paragraph. Here is a very small snippet based on ancient Greek and ancient Roman beliefs and customs. In the ancient world weddings were primarily focused on the father, or if the father was deceased, the nearest male relative arranging the marriage of a daughter to a worthy male. This was either a close extended family member or a family who provided an appropriate dowry. The actual marriage itself was the contract signing of the trade. It was usually a very sad day for the Bride as it meant she was now the property of her husband and his family. Throughout history, it was common that the act of marriage was contractual and the Bride, usually of a very young teen age was seen as property. As the centuries progressed, suitors and fighting for the lady’s hand in marriage became the romanticism that has evolved us to where we are today.
The White Wedding Dress:Contrary to popular belief and what the Bride’s parents would like to believe, the white dress has nothing to do with purity or virginity. In fact, old Christians actually used blue to symbolize purity as it depicted the Virgin Mary. The norm for wedding dresses was actually wearing your Sunday best. Although Red was a popular choice, any colour was acceptable. That is if you were of middle class or below. As far back as the 1500’s, only royal family members and the upper class would wear white. It was a symbol of your place in society, especially in England and in France, despite it being a colour of mourning in France. Since white fabric was so expensive to buy due to its difficulty to clean, it would be something that would only be worn once which in turn translated to your aristocratic stature. The White Wedding Dress as we know it today, became popular and mainstream only after Queen Victoria’s Marriage to Albert of Saxe-Coburg in 1840.
The Bouquet:Believe it or not, the bouquet used to be just a few herbs and garlic. There are two schools of thought for this and it’s likely that both are factual: One, that the smell would ward of evil spirits; and two that the very potent-fragranced bouquet would cover up the stench of ‘death’ back in the dark days of the Plague. It was later that flowers started to be selected for their meanings and symbolism and now simply because the couple has a preferred floral design in mind.
The Bridesmaids and Bridesmaid Dresses: Back in Ancient times, Bridesmaids were used to ward off evil spirits. In fact, they would all wear a similar, if not the same dress as the Bride including veils so as to confuse the evil spirits into not being able to detect whom the Bride was. Nowadays, of course, Bridesmaids are our best friends, cousins and even sisters for moral support and to showcase their importance in the couple’s life.
Although this post is not our typical Inspirational Monday post, it is important to know where our rituals stem from, and even more importantly how far we’ve come. Most of us marry for love and wanting to build a life with our true love; We select our dress based on what we like, not being able to afford a specific colour; We don’t need to carry around garlic in our bouquet’s as we walk down the aisle, in fact, we don’t even have to carry flowers if we don’t want to; and the Bridal Party does not have to dress like the Bride, although wearing the same colour is a trend that has made a comeback.
There is a ton more wedding history that we will cover in a future post, what wedding traditions do you want to know the origin of?