April 24, 2018

Weddings in the Renaissance Period

Weddings during the Renaissance Period:

I had the opportunity to visit The Original Renaissance Pleasure Faire in Los Angeles, CA. Watching all the merry people in their medieval clothes I wondered what a typical wedding was like back then. With a little bit of research (thank you Google!) I stumbled on a few interesting facts.

In the medieval ages, the consent of the father of the bride was more important than the consent of the wedded couple. In 596 a decree was issued that stipulated death penalty if the bride was abducted from her parent’s home. This meant that it was regarded to be abduction if the couple got married without the approval of the family (i.e. the father). The couple could face either the death penalty or exile.

Then, fortunately, came the Renaissance period and it was generally accepted that only the mutual consent of the couple was necessary to create a binding marriage.

It is also interesting to note that so many rituals as we know it today, originated from this period.

The giving of the hands symbolized the contract between the couple while the kissing of the bride and the exchange of rings symbolized the unity between the bride and the groom and became part of the betrothal ceremony.

The bridal procession also had its origin during this period. In England “the bride was led to church between two sweet boys with bride laces and rosemary tied about their silken sleeves. There was a fair bride-cup of silver gilt carried before her, wherein was a goodly branch of rosemary, gilded very fair, hung about with silken ribands of all colors. Musicians came next, then a group of maiden, some bearing great bride-cakes, others garlands of wheat finely gilded; and thus they passed into the church; and the bridegroom finely appareled, with the young men following close behind.” This procession was seen as the proper way to celebrate marriage in a public manner.

When the legality of a marriage was challenged the testimony of the people that eye-witnessed this procession was considered to be the proof of the marriage.

The Renaissance Wedding in Modern Times

The Renaissance period is regarded as the period with the most beautiful and rich traditions in European history. So why not let your wedding resemble the traditions of this wonderful age.

Find yourself a gothic church, a knight arriving on his white horse to take your hand in marriage and who will sweep you away into a new life in a victorian style coach.

Also forget about the white dress! Wedding dresses in those days were burgundy wine, deep purple and hunter green with a metallic braided ribbon running through the design. They were normally laced up the sides and/or back, had long, pleated skirts and were floor length and long-sleeved.

Herbs like rosemary, thyme and basil played an important role in the flower arrangements. This custom originated from the belief in the significance of various herbs in health and destiny. Wheat was also to be considered a symbol of fertility and played an important role during wedding ceremonies.

Flowers to be used include the gloriosa lily, ivy, red roses, amaryllis, birch twigs or holly branches and parrot tulips. All the flowers should appear rustic and natural for in those days flower shops and Styrofoam did not exist.

But please, get a modern day photographer with the necessary equipment to commemorate your Renaissance Wedding!

Credits:

 

  1. “Medieval and Renaissance Marriage: Theory and Customs” by Kirsti S. Thomas.
  2. “Having a Medieval/Renaissance Wedding: And Updating it for Modern Times” by Rachel Broderick.
  3. http://www.renaissance-weddings.net/index.htm

 

 

 

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