HISTORY OF WEDDINGS

The Wedding Ring

The wedding ring is a recognisable symbol of love. First known from over 4800 years ago where the ancient Egyptian civilisation sprang up along the fertile flood plains of the river Nile. Sedges, rushes and reeds that grew along the river banks were twisted and braided into rings for their fingers.

The ring is a circle and this was the symbol of eternity. It had no beginning and no end, like time. It returned to itself, like life; and the shape was worshipped in the form of the Sun and the Moon. The hole in the centre of the ring is not just space either; it is important in its own right as the symbol of the gateway, or door; leading to things and events both known and unknown. 

The ring was worn, like today, on the third finger of the left hand, because of a belief that the vein of that finger directly travelled from the heart. The Romans later called this 'vena amoris,' which is latin for 'the vein of love.'



The Bridesmaids

Ancient Roman custom has it that bridesmaids were dressed similarly to the bride and would accompany her as her protectors on her way to the groom's village. This would deflect spurned suitors from kidnapping the bride or from stealing her dowry. 

Roman law once required witnesses to come to weddings in order to confuse evil spirits as to the identity of the bride and groom. This meant that female wedding attendants came to a marriage ceremony in garments akin to the bride's, while male wedding attendants (the forebears of ushers) wore attire that resembled the groom's own clothing. 

Today the bridesmaid task is to assists the bride with anything she needs relating to her wedding day. Duties can span the range of booking appointments for the bride and groom, to mailing out invitations and reminders to attendees of the big day. The "Maid of Honor" is the chief bridesmaid. She is the one the bride designates to see to the most important tasks, such as the aforementioned bookings and reminders. If she is married, she is called the "Matron of Honor." 

Bridesmaids are customarily given gifts for their efforts and the bride's appreciation of their inherent qualities. After all, they're the ones the bride has chosen to publicly accompany her on the most important day of her new life. Recommended Bridemaid's gifts are usually necklaces or earrings. Personalised gifts are always a Valuable reminder of the day and lovely to hold onto as a keepsake. 


The Invitations

The first known wedding invitation was found written on a Bulgarian Cave wall. Translated it simply said, "Getting married. Bring Meat." 

The first written wedding invitations occurred during the Middle Ages in Europe. Wealthy members of the town who needed to announce the marriage of their children would pay large sums of money to the monks to hand-craft the wedding invitations. Monks were educated in the art of calligraphy, which is the skill that was greatly admired. After the wedding invitations were complete, a courier on horseback would deliver the invitations to the invited guests. 

Later, around 1600s, came the invention of the metal plate engraver. As a result, hand-written invitations became less popular and were replaced with elaborately engraved wedding invitations. After the engraver would finish with a wedding invitation, a sheet of thin paper would be placed on top so that it would not smudge. Hence the reason that you see the tissue left inside of invitations today.


The Wedding Dress

White is the accepted traditional color of the wedding dress, but wedding gowns have not always been white. The marriage of Queen Victoria to her cousin Albert in 1840 had more influence on weddings than any other. Queen Victoria put the wheels in motion by marrying in a white dress. Though brides continued to wed in gowns of different colours, white was now set as the colour of choice for weddings and has continued ever since. 

Coco Chanel was a powerful force behind the change in women's’ fashions, and was the one who officially introduced the short wedding dress in the 1920’s. It was a white knee length dress worn with a long train. This cemented white as the universal colour of the wedding dress.

Brides from wealthy families often wore rich colours and exclusive fabrics. It was common to see them wearing bold colours and layers of furs, velvet and silk. The amount of material a wedding dress contained also was a reflection of the bride's social standing and indicated the extent of the family's wealth to wedding guests. Today, there are wedding dresses available in all price ranges, and Western traditions have loosened up to include a rainbow of colours and variety of lengths, which are now considered acceptable.