With regard to the history of weddings, nothing can be said precisely. There is very little information about the early social history and many people believe that group weddings were the first form of union, with loyalty to the tribe being more important than the individual. As society evolved and changed, tribes settled and formed agricultural communities and even began to trade. This led to the mixing of people without conflict. The origin of weddings is believed to date back to the era when tribes were still in the stage of survival. For more interesting information on background of weddings, read on.
Interesting Information on Background of Weddings
The idea of legal marriage was first recognized in ancient, when incest became less apt due to circumstances. In effect, many Pharaohs took sisters and daughters as their wives, in order to keep their dynastic bloodline true. However, this practice was not common amongst middle and lower classes. For them, the marriage existed as a legally enforceable act and the wives actually enjoyed more rights in this ancient land, including the right of divorce.
The tradition of engagement was also invented by the ancient Egyptians. It was arranged for the couple to know each other better and to check out if they were indeed compatible. This further evolved to develop the marriage contract, which laid down all the rights as well as the duties of bride and groom. This way, the couple knew what to expect from each other, before the wedding itself. With regard to the dowry, things were reversed. The prospective groom and his parents went to the bride's home and paid her parents some money.
This was to convince the bride's parents that the groom was capable of earning and keeping their daughter in good standing. The groom also bought a personal gift for the bride, usually made either of gold or a gemstone. The wedding was a colorful affair, followed by a feast and entertainment activities such as singing and dancing. After this, the newlyweds retired for some private time together. Fresh wheat was thrown into the air by the revelers to symbolize fertility.
Soon, other civilizations also incorporated wedding laws in their cultures. It was seen as a positive and stabilizing factor in society. Males were seen to be calmer with a wife and children, women were less troublesome with a husband and children better off with a mother and father they knew and trusted. Moreover, weddings developed kinship between families and clans and prevented serious feuding or breakdown of civil order.
Roman Empire also considered marriage as an extremely important institution. They coined the modern word 'matrimony' that comes from the Latin word 'matrimonialis', which is in turn derived from 'mater', which means 'mother'. Emperor Augustus particularly adhered to a stable empire and duly made laws for the monetary penalizing of all men who put off their wedding day. The upper class conducted a marriage ceremony called 'confarreatio'.
This required a complicated series of priestly rites called 'diffareatio'. Usually, the father arranged the marriages of his children in families, with which links would be beneficial in future. However, it was not as political as it sounds, as marriages did not take place without the consent of the couple. In fact, many weddings were for love as well as money. Daughters even got engaged on their own and then left it to her father and the groom's father to get to know each other and agree to the proceedings.
Before arranging marriage, people checked whether a 'conudium' or right to marry existed between the couple or not. The conditions did not allow the couple to be close blood relatives, already engaged or married, or any kind of slave. Soldiers could not marry until their service to their Legion had ended, but could see their betrothed, as if they were married, without eyebrows being raised. Weddings to foreigners was allowed, but with restrictions
The last consideration of the 'conudium' was the age of the couple, wherein the bride had to be at least twelve years and the groom, thirteen. After all the conditions were fulfilled, a party was thrown to announce the engagement and to provide the groom a chance to give a present of jewelry to his betrothed. Just before the wedding, the bride made an offering of all her childhood toys to the Roman Gods, at her family's altar.
The wedding dress of the bride was often made of white wool, which was quite simple in appearance. There was also a highly complicated knot tied in the sash, to tease the groom and test his patience on the wedding night. The presence of 10 male citizens as witnesses was necessary to validate the wedding. After the wedding contract was signed, the groom and his family left first, to welcome the bride at her new home. The bride then followed, after expressing distress over leaving her parent's home.
Weddings were and still include a varied customs and rituals, as a part of celebrations. There are many traditions, such as the exchanging of rings, flowers, parade and the veil, which are commonly followed by many communities in different countries. Subsequently, the history of wedding is almost as long as the history of humanity. The dream still lives on, even if weddings are not only about romance, but about duties as well.