As Spring is upon us, and the wedding season is just around the ‘venue’, we enter the months in which every weekend is booked with some rehearsal dinner, bachelorette party, or wedding. Our schedules are shaped around our friend’s and family’s weddings. And we make sure we’re dressed to a tee for each nuptials. Virtually every aspect of a wedding: from the engagement to the honeymoon has a rich history. Ancestry, religious beliefs, and cultural roots have shaped marriages for thousands of years.
Charles Frederick Worth wedding gown worn by Alice Wade Everett in 1879
The bachelor dinner
Like many other wedding traditions, the bachelor dinner, or as it now referred as bachelor party, has stood the test of time. In historical times, comrades would feast and toast one another on the eve of the friend’s wedding. Nowadays, we dust off our favorite cocktail dresses, to dress up for cocktail hour and laugh and sip the night away. Only to be followed to a much embarrassing walk of shame.
The Wedding Party
During the ‘marriage by capture’-era, close friends of the groom-to-be assisted him when he kidnapped the bride from her family. The first ushers and best men were more like a small army, fighting off the brides angry relatives as the groom rode away with her. Nothing like the present, were a groomsman respectively asks the bride’s father for her hand in marriage. Men still do that right?
Bridesmaids and maids of honor became more common when weddings were planned. For several days before the marriage, a senior maid attended to the bride-to-be. This maid or matron of honor, as we know her today, ensured that the bridal wreath was made and helped the bride get dressed. All bridesmaids helped the bride decorate for the wedding feast. Even in modern times we can rely on our best friends to fulfill the duty of being a bridesmaid. The bridesmaid’s list of chores include, shopping for the bride’s wedding gown, respectively excepting the bride’s choice for the bridesmaids gown (much to horror sometimes), and being the shoulder to cry on, or person to vent to when the bride has her moment of emotional breakdown.
Before the use of flowers in the bridal bouquet, women carried aromatic bunches of garlic, herbs, and grains to drive evil spirits away as they walked down the aisle. Over time, these were replaced with flowers, symbolizing fertility and everlasting love. Now, the floral arrangement of a wedding says as much about the taste of a bride, as her wedding gown. The color scheme, the type of flower, and the amount are all judged upon her guests. Which is a good thing she throws her bouquet at the end to her envious guests.
“Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue, and a silver sixpence in her shoe”
This good luck saying dates back to Victorian times and many brides try to arrange their wedding attire accordingly. Something old represents the link with the bride’s family and the past. Many brides choose to wear a piece of antique family jewelry or a mother’s or grandmother’s wedding gown. Something new represents good fortune and success in the bride’s new life. The wedding gown is often chosen as the new item. Something borrowed is to remind the bride that friends and family will be there for her when help is needed. The borrowed object might be something such as a lace handkerchief. Something blue is the symbol of faithfulness and loyalty. Often the blue item is the garter. A silver sixpence in her shoe is to wish the bride wealth. This good luck saying is still thought to bring good luck to the marriage (& wedding) nowadays. We buy a new wedding dress, we borrow our mother’s jewelry, and we wear an old tiara from our grandmother.
So my dames, how many weddings to you have booked in your agenda the coming months?