Lets start at the beginning with "What is a marriage?"
The first recorded wedding ceremonies dates back to about 2350BC. In ancient worlds women had no say over who they were marrying, it was mostly decided on who held the most power in the area or the man of the highest class in order to preserve the womens families power. For most, love had little to nothing to do with it.
It wasn’t until the 17th and 18th centuries that people thought of it as a way to pursue love and happiness rather than power or wealth. Although both the man and the wife had a say in the marriage women were still seen as “property” by their husbands and the world.
As women’s rights groups formed in the late 19th and 20th centuries, women finally became an equal part of the marriage.
By the 1970 marriage is close to how it is today with couple choosing who, when and where to marry as well as family issues like where to live, how many kids to have or to have none at all, as well as the right to divorce should that need arise.
Marriage now a days is basically a personal “contact” between 2 equal persons seeking happiness, love and stability, with all issues decided by the couple. However many people still marry for social, legal, spiritual and financial reasons. Of course there are still many culture who still believe the women is “property” and her parents decide who she shall marry and at what age.
Toasting at weddings dates back to the Greeks in the 16th century BC. Where the wine was poured from 1 bottle/pitcher, the host would have the first drink to show his guests it was not poisoned.In 1800’s the toast became a common thing and was done to wish good faith, luck and happiness to the guests attending a special occasion.
The clinking of the glasses is said to scare off evil spirits that may be there to cause bad luck to the couple. It is also a way of signifying the end to the formalities side of things at the wedding.
What can you toast with? The only beverages not considered ok to toast with are tea, coffee and water as these are considered bad luck and an insult to most if used in a toast.
There is no exact time you have to have speeches but most tend to have them after dessert. Again there is no set who must say a speech but most do a minimum of three (brides father, groom and best man). You can add in speeches from fathers, bridesmaids, brothers/sisters or close family/friends – its totally up to the bride and groom.
Something to consider is to have the bride/groom thank the guests for coming and someone (usually best man or father of the bride) to complement the bridesmaids. But most will tend to say embarrassing or funny stories about the bride and/or groom so keep this in mind when asking your guests if they will make a speech.
The history of best man has not always been what it is today! Centuries ago in Scotland the groom would decide on a best man who’s only duty was to help the groom kidnap a female to marry. The to be groom would ask one of his close friends who he thought would be most able to assist him in getting the job done. The best man would need to protect the couple, though mainly just the groom, during the wedding and ensure the brides family would stay away from the wedding. He would stand to the right of the groom, there by having his hand on the sword though out the ceremony prepared to protect his friend.
Thankfully today that is no longer the case, the best man is usually the grooms closest friend or brother and should be considered an honour to be asked to take this special role in the bride and grooms day. His duties are to help the groom get ready for the big day, present the wedding rings at the ceremony, dance with the maid of honour/bridemaid and of course organise the stag/bucks party. Some also take on extra “responsibilities” such as decorating the newly weds car in the worst possible ways, assisting with wedding planning and honeymoon plans.
The majority of the time the best man is expected to make a speech during the wedding, even if it is just to thank the bridemaids and complement them on how good they look, however many take this time to remind the groom and his family of all the embarrassing things the groom and himself did in younger years to embarrass the groom.
So when picking a best man try think will “John” be helpful, will he say stuff I REALLY dont want my new in laws, wife, family and friends to hear? If so talk to him when you ask about what you would not like to be said so he knows and dont forget remind him a few weeks/days out when he’s preparing his speech.
The bridesmaids used to have a far more serious role in the wedding than they do today.
In 1066 the Anglo Saxons had the bridesmaids take the groom to the wedding while the groomsmen would take the bride, to fight off potential kidnappers (see topic three for more on this)
They would dress similarly to the bride in an attempt to deflect spurned suitors from kidnapping the actual bride or stealing her money. The Romans even went as far as getting guests to wear attire that resembled the bride and groom in hope to “confuse” bad luck in hope the bad luck would go to the guests rather than the easily identifiable bride and groom.
In the 19th century couples would often take the whole bridal party on their honeymoon to continue to keep away the evil/bad spirits during this special time.
Today however, the duties of the bridesmaid is to assist with anything the bride requests or needs. It could be booking appointments, assisting with the invitations or remembering things on the big day. Essentially though they are there for moral support on what is the brides most important event in her life (and possibly the most stressful).
Cutting the Cake
Wedding cakes date back to the Roman Empire, as cakes weren’t really invented they mostly a freshly made barley bread. Back then the groom would break the cake over his brides head, symbolising the end of her virginal state, ensure fertility and the start of her husbands power over her. The guests would then eat a piece of the wedding cake in hope to also receive some of the good luck.
In Medieval England, cakes were flour based breads, the custom was to stack the buns in a pile and the couple would have to attempt to kiss over the pile. Those who succeeded were said to be blessed with many children, good fortune and prosperity.
Mid 17th century some places did a “brides pie”. A pie was made, minced meat, mutton or sweet bread, the bride would hide her ring in it. At the wedding it was sliced and given to the female guests. It was believed that the women who received the the slice with the ring would be the next to marry.
Traditionally wedding cakes are white as this symbolises purity, innocence, virginity, softness and gentleness. During the Victorian period it was said the whiter the cake the wealthier the family was.
Theses days cakes come in all sorts of styles, colours and sizes. The groom should place his hand over the brides and cut the cake together symbolising the continuity of their relationship, support and ability to take care of each other.
The tradition of feeding each other the first piece of cake is making its way back into weddings with others taking the “smash” trend and smashing a piece into each other. However the tradition of sending cake home with the guests is on its way out as many choose to have the wedding cake as the dessert.
First dances are traditionally a way of “opening” the dance floor to the guests at a wedding. The bride and groom originally did a waltz.
In more modern times people have made a “feature” out of first dances by making them either funny or well rehearsed and synchronised. Depending on the couple they usually ask the bridal party to join them for a second song (or towards the end of the first) others also invite the parents of the bride and groom up to the dance floor with the bridal party or shortly after. This basically comes down to how long the bride and groom wish to be dancing for.
Traditionally the father of the bride and bride share the second dance as his final way of “letting go” of his daughter but again this is a choice of the bride and groom. This then starts what we refer to as “party time” as the formalities are over and the more relaxed part of the reception can begin.
Lets be honest, this is a hard question to answer! There are so many variables like budget (are you saving for it yourselves), location (Sydney vendors V Bourke vendors booking times), are you in aRead more