History of Weddings
Many of us have attended at least one wedding or two. There are all the classic details and traditions to remember, but most people don’t even know where or why weddings originated. In this article, we dive headfirst into the history of weddings for a closer look at how blushing brides, vows, and other traditions began and have changed over time. Keep reading to learn more millennia of tying the knot.
History of Weddings and Dowry Gifts
The first recorded exchange of a dowry dates as far back as 2,000 B.C.E., but this oldest available record admits that the dowry was an already-existing custom. Daughters rarely inherited anything from their fathers’ estates, and so they relied on a dowry awarded upon marriage for security. Some cultures practiced both bride prices and dowries, but the bride price was quickly absorbed into the dowry. This form of lifetime security would also be forfeited by the groom in the case of divorce without reason. Experts suspect that group weddings might have been the first form of union as far back as nomadic and tribal time periods. Ancient Egypt was the first civilization that recognized marriage in law.
Throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, wedding ceremonies were much more intimate than they are today. Brides and grooms hosted all their guests at the homes of their parents or in-laws. Announcements usually took place only the Sunday before at church. By the mid-19th century, weddings became much more elaborate. Instead of wearing the best dress she owned, a bride might have been able to buy her wedding gown for the very first time. Couples also began to hire professionals for floral arrangements, cakes, and decorations.
Wedding Traditions: Now and Then
So much has changed in this century alone, but even modern brides and grooms tend to stick with tradition. A groom used to take a bite of bread on his wedding day and crumble the rest over his bride’s head for good luck. Today, it’s not at all uncommon for a bride and groom to brawl over who can stuff a piece of cake in the other’s mouth faster. Runaway brides are nothing new, but a groom’s best man was originally tasked with making sure the bride didn’t escape during the ceremony. Bridesmaids originally wore matching dresses in an attempt to confuse former suitors and outsmart evil spirits. Now, bridesmaids are encouraged to dress and style their hair differently.
The world really is a different place, so it’s no surprise why weddings have changed in some ways more than others.