Springtime Is The Time For Weddings
In the photo above: “Disney Royal Wedding: Alexis Preston poses before her wedding ceremony at Magic Kingdom Walt Disney World Resort on May 10, 2018, in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. Late last summer, Alexis Preston and Jay Patel's wedding plans were washed away by Hurricane Harvey which left their Houston home flooded, ruined their car and put their dreams on hold. In honor of the upcoming royal nuptials of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry, Disney's Fairy Tale Weddings and ABC's Good Morning America teamed up on a national search for a couple worthy of a wedding with all the royal trappings. Alexis and Jay, exuberant Disney fans who got engaged at Cinderella's Royal Table and dreamed of getting married in the Magic Kingdom, were selected from more than 2,500 couples for a regal wedding fit for royalty.”
Spring is usually when couples in love are ready to take the plunge. There is something about the atmosphere of spring that brings out those warm feelings. The flowers are blooming, the birds are singing, and the beauty of nature simply takes over and replaces the cold dreary winter.
There are many styles and wedding customs that vary from country to country and from century to century. The time and place in history a couple lived could affect how they got married. At times it would be completely for the sake of love, but in many cultures, it had nothing to do with love but was pre-arranged by family or of necessity.
Medieval marriages were quite complex. While it may have been easy to get married, there were problems that could arise if one or the other of the couple needed to prove that they were actually married or even to stay married. As there were no set laws yet regarding marriage, all it took was just two people vowing their love to each other. It was not necessary to be married in a church, or even in front of a priest or witnesses. They did not even have to have the permission of their parents, even as young as 12 or 14 years old. According to the church in those days, there were certain expectations that were encouraged on the proper way for a couple to be married. Certain practices were definitely frowned upon like intermarrying between classes or marrying a relative, even a very distant relative. Before laws were put in place regarding marriage, there was quite a bit of confusion as to who was actually married and who was not.
For a Roman marriage, the father would choose the husband for their daughter and girls were considered for marriage between the ages of 12-14 and the age of 14 for the boys. The families on both sides would give their consent and then the couple would sign the marriage contract. The Romans had a few traditions that they observed. To begin with, they would try to plan the wedding in June, but it could definitely not be in February or May because of omens that they believed in. With the help of her mother, the bride would be dressed in her wedding outfit that included a knotted belt that only her husband could untie. Following the wedding (which was normally at the home of the bride’s father) and the dinner afterward, the entire wedding party would proceed to the groom’s house, throwing nuts (instead of rice). The bride would be escorted by three boys, one of whom would carry a torch. The groom would already be waiting for her at the door, and the keys to the home would then be given to her. The groom would then carry his bride over the threshold and only invited guests would then be allowed in for the final ritual. After lighting a fire with the special torch, the bride would then blow it out and toss it to the guests.
Jewish traditional weddings were similar to Roman weddings. First of all, there would be an engagement period called a “betrothal” that lasted for about a year. Like the Romans and other cultures, they could be betrothed as early as 12-14 years of age, and it was usually left up to the families to locate and approve the choices. Once approval was given, then the couple would enter into an agreement that was considered a formal legally-binding betrothal. This agreement was much the same as actually being married because they would refer to each other as husband and wife, even though they were not yet living together; and if either of them cheated on the other, it was considered adultery punishable by stoning in biblical times. The wedding ceremony was much like the Roman ceremony where the wedding was held in the bride’s home and progressed to the groom’s home. Celebrations continued for a week.
Traditionally, dependent upon the area and traditions of the particular region, some marriages were pre-arranged. In most cultures, it was customary for the bride’s family to provide a dowry to the groom as a gift. It is no different in Chinese culture; in fact, even today, a couple could become quite wealthy in China just by getting married. Not only does the family give them a dowry; but particularly, in modern Chinese weddings, all the guests will bring money as gifts. A huge spread of food is laid out for the bride’s family traditionally prepared by the groom’s family. In traditional weddings, just like the Romans, an “unlucky” day would not be chosen for the wedding. Red is the traditional color for the attire of the bride. Both families decorate the home for the wedding and reception with “happiness banners” to be placed on each side of the door. During the ceremony, the couple will kneel three times: to heaven and earth, to the ancestral tablets and their parents, and then to each other. The bride will then provide tea to the parents and relatives according to seniority. A processional from the bride’s home to the groom’s home takes place, just like in other cultural weddings. In modern weddings, pictures are taken way in advance of the wedding with no pictures taken on that day.
In America, weddings are totally different from other cultural style weddings. For the average wedding, there is no set amount of time for the engagement period and no pre-arrangement of marriages by the bride’s family. There is also no dowry given to the groom at the time of the wedding. American weddings range from the spur-of-the-moment type weddings with couples rushing off to Las Vegas to get married in a wedding chapel or it can be as extravagant as flying off to Paris or some exotic island like Hawaii. There are grand beautiful dream weddings that take place with long engagements in order to be able to accommodate all the wishes of the bride (usually). Then there are the wild unusual weddings that dare to be different to break the mold of tradition: western-themed weddings, garden weddings, beach weddings, barn weddings, and the list goes on with endless themes and ideas. When it comes right down to it, the place and style are not the most important thing, but it is the joining together of two hearts in love.
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