Engagement

TIE THE KNOT:

The expression “tie the knot” comes from Roman times when the bride wore a girdle that was tied in knots which the groom had the fun of untying.

LEAP YEAR PROPOSALS:

The right of every women to propose on 29th February each leap year, goes back many hundreds of years to when the leap year day had no recognition in English law (the day was ‘leapt over’ and ignored, hence the term ‘leap year’). It was considered, therefore, that as the day had no legal status, it was reasonable to assume that traditions also had no status. Consequently, women who were concerned about being ‘left on the shelf’ took advantage of this anomaly and proposed to the man that they wished to marry.

It was also thought that since the leap year day corrected the discrepancy between the calendar year of 365 days and the time taken for the Earth to complete one orbit of the sun (365 days and 6 hours). It was an opportunity for women to correct a tradition that was one-sided and unjust.

ENGAGEMENT RING:

The engagement ring is a promise for marriage. During the Roman era, the man had to “barter” for his future bride. The engagement ring was security for the “betrothed.” As time went on, men presented diamond rings to future brides because a ring containing a diamond was considered more valuable than a plain gold band—thus, it is a stronger promise and offers more security. Diamond engagement rings were given by medieval Italians, because of their belief that the diamond was created from the flames of love.

BACHELOR PARTY:

This was the last chance before his new wife took over the finances for the groom to gather money by gambling for his own future use. Ancient Spartan soldiers were the first to hold stag parties. The groom would feast with his male friends on the night before the wedding. There he would say goodbye to the carefree days of bachelorhood and swear continued allegiance to his comrades.

BRIDAL SHOWER:

This custom came about when a father disapproved of his daughter’s marriage and refused to provide a dowry to the couple. The shower became the alternative to the dowry. Supportive villagers would assemble and provide the bride a variety of household items for her new home. Bridal showers were also meant to strengthen the friendships between the bride and her friends, give her moral support, and help her prepare for her marriage. The idea to give gifts is fairly new, dating from the 1890’s. At one shower, the bride’s friend placed small gifts inside a Japanese parasol, and then opened it over the bride’s head so all of the presents would “shower” over her. When word of this hit the fashion pages, people were so charmed, they decided to do the same at their showers.

DOWRY/HOPE CHEST AND TROUSSEAU:

There was a time when marriage would include some exchange of property between the families of the bride and groom. The groom’s family would pay a price to the bride’s family for the bride. The bride’s family in turn would provide the couple with a dowry of various household items for their new home. As a bride planned for her future marriage, she would supplement this dowry with her own items that she collected or made (i.e. embroidered linens). All items would be kept in a special Hope Chest built by the bride’s father for the purpose of holding the dowry.

The trousseau included all the clothing and property which a bride brought with her to the marriage. Today, the trousseau includes all wedding and shower gifts as well as new purchases.

WEDDING BANNS:

This is an announcement of an impending wedding in the Catholic Church. This announcement usually takes place for three consecutive Sundays. Its purpose was to inform the public with enough notice of the pending wedding so if anyone objected to the marriage, they could do so.

BRIDAL GOWN (WHITE):

There was a time when the bride would wear her favourite dress to the ceremony. In 1840, Queen Victoria wore an elegant all white gown to her wedding. She started a fashion trend that quickly caught on and continues to this very day. White was worn because people believed it represented affluence, virginity, and purity.

THE BRIDAL VEIL:

The origin of the wedding veil is unclear but it is thought that it predates the wedding dress by centuries. One explanation is that it is a relic of the days when a groom would throw a blanket over the head of the woman of his choice when he captured her and carted her off. Another explanation is that during the times of arranged marriages, the bride’s face was covered until the groom was committed to her at the ceremony – so it would be too late for him to run off if he didn’t like the look of her! It is also thought that the veil was worn to protect the bride from evil spirits that would be floating around on her wedding day. Traditionally the bridal veil was a symbol for modesty, respect, and virginity. The veil served as a reminder to all witnessing the ceremony that the physical relationship was entered into only after the vows were exchanged and the marriage became official with the seal of a kiss. The veil was removed after the vows were exchanged and the couple was pronounced “Man and Wife.”

BRIDAL FLOWERS:

The carrying of flowers by the bride has its roots in ancient times when it was believed that strong smelling herbs and spices would ward off and drive away evil spirits, bad luck and ill health. Garlic and chives were also popular for the same reason. During Roman times, this tradition was extended, with the bride and groom wearing floral garlands signifying new life and hope for fertility. The bouquet in particular symbolised a woman in bloom. During Victorian times, flowers took on an additional significance, as lovers would send messages to each other using different flowers, with each flower having its own meaning. These associations were soon adopted for the bride’s bouquet and are still used today by many brides. The most popular flowers with their traditional meanings are:

SOMETHING OLD, NEW, BORROWED AND BLUE:

The full wording of this popular bridal attire rhyme, which dates back to the Victorian times is ‘something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue and a silver sixpence in your shoe’.

Something old refers to wearing something that represents a link with the bride’s family and her old life. Usually, the bride wears a piece of family jewellery or maybe her mothers or grandmothers wedding dress.

Wearing something new represents good fortune and success in the bride’s new life. The bride’s wedding dress is usually chosen, if purchased new, but it can be any other new item of the bride’s wedding attire.

Wearing something borrowed, which has already been worn by a happy bride at her wedding, is meant to bring good luck to the marriage. Something borrowed could be an item of bridal clothing, a handkerchief or an item of jewellery.

Wearing something blue dates back to biblical times when the colour blue was considered to represent purity and fidelity. Over time this has evolved from wearing blue clothing to wearing a blue band around the bottom of the bride’s dress and to modern times where the bride wears a blue or blue trimmed garter.

In England, placing a silver sixpence in the bride’s shoe is a symbol of wealth. This is not just to bring the bride financial wealth but also a wealth of happiness and joy throughout her married life.