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What is the origin of the engagement ring?
The diamond engagement ring was introduced by the Venetians, who discovered the diamond's value in 16th
century, but bethrothal gifts hadn't included rings until A.D.860, when Pope Nicholas I decreed that a ring
of value must be given as a statement of nuptial intent and that if the man called off the wedding, the jilted
bride kept the ring. If the woman ended the engagement, she was to return the ring and be sent to a nunnery.
Why do bridegrooms have a best man?
In ancient times, most marriages were arranged, and so the groom wasn't always the bride's first choice. The man
she favoured would often swear to carry her off before or during the wedding. To avoid this, the groom stood on the
bride's right to keep his sword arm free and would enlist a warrior companion to fight off the rival if he showed
up. This companion was, in fact, the "best man".
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Why is June the most popular month for weddings?
The ancient Greeks and Romans both suggested marriage during a full moon because of its positive influence on
fertility. The Romans favoured June, a month they named after Juno, the goddess of marriage, because if the bride
conceived right away, she wouldn't be too pregnant to help with the harvest. She also would probably have
recovered from giving birth in time to help in the fields with the next year's harvest.
Why do brides wear wedding veils?
Although veils for women are today associated with Muslims, their origin goes back at least three thousand
years before Mohammed was even born. Outside of the Middle East, this symbol of modesty had all but dissappeared
by 400 B.C., when the Romans introduced sheer translucent veils into the wedding ceremony to remind the
woman that she was entering a new life of submission to her husband. Veils predate the wedding dress by several
Why is it bad luck for the groom to see his bride before the ceremony on their wedding day?
It's bad luck for the groom to see the bride within twenty-four hours of the wedding ceremony for the same
reason that brides wear veils. When marriages were arranged by two families, the groom wasn't allowed to see or even
meet his bride until he lifted her veil after they were married. This way, he couldn't refuse to marry her if
he didn't like her looks. The 24-hour ban descends from that ritual.
How did wedding cakes become so elaborate?
Most wedding rituals are to encourage fertility, and so it is with the wedding cake, which begun with the Romans
breaking small cakes of wheat and barley over the bride's head. During the reign of Charles II, the three-tier
cake with white icing we use today was introduced. The cake takes its shape from the spire of Saint Bride's
Church in London. The couple cuts the first piece together as a gesture of their shared future, whatever it
How did throwing of rice become a wedding custom?
Because the main purpose of marriage was to produce children, ancient people showered the new bride with
fertility symbols such as wheat grain. The Romans baked this wheat into small cakes for the couple, to be eaten
in a tradition known as conferriatio, or "eating together". The guests then threw handfuls of a mixture
of honeyed nuts and dried fruits called confetto at the bride, which we copy by throwing rice.
Why does a groom carry his bride over the threshold?
The custom of carrying a bride over the threshold comes from the kidnapping practices of the Germanic Goths A.D.
200. Generally, these men only married women from within their own communities, but when the supply run short,
they would raid neighbouring villages and seize young girls to carry home as wives. From this practice of abduction
sprang the now symbolic act of carrying the bride over the threshold.
Why is marriage called “wedlock”?
Wedd is an Anglo-Saxon word meaning “to gamble,” and there is no greater gamble than marriage. In the days
when brides were bartered by their fathers, and a deal was reached with a prospective groom through an exchange
of either property or cash, a young woman would have been bought and sold for breeding purposes to be finalized
in a wedlock ritual called a wedding. This marriage led to matrimony, which in Latin means “the state of
Why is a husband-to-be called a “groom”?
Bride comes from the Old English word bryd, while the word guma simply meant “a young man.” The two words
together, brydguma, referred to a suitor looking for a wife. This compound changed the sixteenth century when
a groom evolved within the fold language to take over guma as a description of a young man, boy, or lad
who was commonly hired to work for the stables and groom horses, among other chores, but who was still seeking
Why do we say that a married couple has “tied the knot”?
In Western culture, “tying the knot” suggests the pledge of inseparable unity made by a married couple.
The expression comes from ancient India, when during the wedding ceremony the Hindu groom would put a
brightly coloured ribbon around the bride’s neck. During the time it took to tie the ribbon into a knot,
the bride’s father would demand a better price for his daughter, but once the knot was completed the bride
became the groom’s forever.
Why are wedding-related items referred to as a “bridal”?
The expressions “bridal feast,” “bridal bed,” and “bridal cake,” among other bridal references, all date
back to around 1200, when a wedding was a rather boisterous and bawdy affair. The world bridal comes from
“bride-ale,” which was a special beer brewed for the wedding and then sold to the guests to raise money for
the newlyweds. Because of the bride-ale, weddings were quite rowdy until around the seventeenth century,
when the church managed to get a grip on the whole thing.
Why does the groom crush a glass with his foot at a Jewish wedding?
Near the end of Jewish ceremony, after the vows have been made, wine is poured into a new glass over
which is a blessing and recited by the rabbi. After a couple drinks from the glass, it is places on the
ground and crushed by the groom’s foot. This symbolizes the destruction of the Holy Temple in Israel and
reminds the guests that love is fragile. Those gathered shout “mazel tov,” and the couple kisses.
Why do we call the first weeks of marriage a “honeymoon”?
The custom of a honeymoon began over four thousand years ago in Babylon, when for a full lunar
month after the wedding, the bride’s father would supply his son-in-law with all the honey-beer he could
drink. It was called the “honey month” the word honeymoon didn’t enter our language until 1546, and because
few people could afford a vacation, a honeymoon didn’t mean a trip away from home until the middle of the
Why do women cry at weddings?
Men might cry at weddings, but they have been socially conditioned that as a protectors and warriors
signs of weaknesses such as tears invite attack. There is no such thing as “happy” crying. Psychologists
suggest that when people cry at happy endings, they are reacting to the moment when the critical outcome
in doubt. A women crying at a wedding is most likely expressing subconscious disappointment in the outcome
of her own romantic dreams.
Wedding Ceremony Customs
Find out the charming traditions from around the globe.
- India: Hindu weddings include a ritual called saptapadi, a religious rite that traditionally involves the bride and groom taking seven steps around a ceremonial fire. The steps go hand in hand with seven vows, representing nourishment, strength and health, spirituality, happiness, progeny, longevity, and friendship and fidelity. Under Hindu law, the marriage is not legal until the saptapadi is complete.
- Mexico: It's customary for the groom to give the bride 13 gold coins, trece monedas de oro, to represent his commitment, trust, and confidence in her. Her acceptance means that she receives his trust and confidence unconditionally, with total dedication and prudence. The coins are then blessed by the priest during the ceremony.
- Italy: Food figures big in an Italian wedding―even before the reception begins. At the end of the ceremony, candy-coated almonds, called confetti, meant to represent the sweetness in life, are tied into small bags and tossed to the bride and groom. The bags are also presented to guests as wedding favors.
- Sri Lanka: Buddhist weddings take place on beautifully carved wooden platforms called magul poru.
- Morocco: Before the wedding, a Moroccan bride has her hands and feet painted with henna tattoos to represent good luck, protection, and the transition from unwed woman to wife.
- China: A bride is virtually guaranteed a good hair day for the wedding, since a "good luck woman" (any woman who has a healthy son, husband, or daughter) prepares the bride's hair for the ceremony. The hair is combed four times.
- Ireland: A bride sews an ornament in the shape of a horseshoe into her dress for good luck, or she may carry a horseshoe in her bouquet.
- Brazil: It's customary for a bride to be fashionably late to her wedding. This helps ensure that the groom will not see her in her wedding dress before the ceremony begins.
- Kenya: The day after the "real" wedding, Swahili brides are the focus of a ceremony called kupamba. It's a chance for the bride and other women to show off elaborate dresses and hairstyles.
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