Historical Wedding Trivia

Little known facts about weddings across the ages.

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Historical Wedding Trivia

In 2800 BC Egypt, a circle having no beginning or end signified eternity, or a binding marriage.

The first Roman wedding rings were gold and carved with two clasped hands; earlier rings had a carved key through which a woman was thought to be able to open her husband's heart.

The wedding cake was not always eaten by the bride. In the 1st century BC in Rome, guests threw the cake at the bride as a fertility symbol integral to the marriage ceremony. Around 100 BC the Roman bakers, whose skills were held in greater regard than architects, altered the practice and baked small cakes that were eaten rather than thrown.

Wheat was one of the earliest grains to ceremoniously shower new brides. Unmarried young women were expected to scramble for the grain to insure their betrothal--the same thing that today's bridesmaids do with the bouquet.

Among the Germanic Goths in AD 200, a man married a woman from within his own community. When women were scarce, the prospective bridegroom captured his bride from neighboring villages. The bridegroom was accompanied by his strongest friend (or best man), who helped seize any woman who strayed from her parent's home.

The tradition that the bride stands to the left of the groom is more than meaningless etiquette. Among the northern barbarians, in AD 200, a groom placed his captured bride on this left to protect her, freeing his right hand or sword hand against sudden attack.

The ring finger, in the third century Greece, was the index finger: in India it was the thumb. The western custom began with the Greeks who believed that the third finger was connected directly to the heart by a route that was called "the vein of love."

In 860 Pope Nicholas I decreed that an engagement ring becomes a required statement of nuptial intent. He insisted that engagement rings had to be made of gold, which signified a financial sacrifice by the husband.

The diamond engagement ring comes from the fifteenth century Venetians, who discovered that the diamond was the hardest and most enduring substance in nature. It naturally followed that the engagement and marriage would endure forever.

Until recently brides were considered the property of their father. Their futures and husbands were arranged without their consent. A marriage of an unattractive woman was often arranged with a prospective groom from another village, without either of them having seen each other. In more than one instance when the groom saw his future wife, usually dressed in white, for the first time on the day of the wedding, the groom changed his mind and left the bride at the altar. To prevent this from happening, it became bad luck for the groom to see the bride on the day of the wedding before the ceremony. In addition brides began to wear opaque yellow veils. Although the groom could not see in, [and possibly change his mind at the last moment] the bride could not see out. To prevent the bride from tripping, her father would escort the bride down the aisle and literally give the bride to the groom.