A Brief History of Weddings and Getting Married

Written on Wednesday 26th August, 2020

So as we know, a wedding is a ceremony and celebration during which marriage is conducted and formalised. The first recorded marriage activity dates back to an incredible 2350 BC, a whopping 4000+ years ago! But these early 'weddings' weren't anything like we know them today. The primary intention of these ceremonies were to ensure that a woman became a man's 'property' as such, and therefore ensuring that children born within this marriage were biological heirs of the husband. 

In Ancient Greek and Roman times, if a wife was unable to bear children during a marriage, she could be 'returned' and the man was free to marry someone else instead in pursuit of an heir. It makes it sound more like a purchase from Argos than a marriage doesn't it?! These early marriages didn't involve religion, romance or as you can imagine, any semblance of a celebration! In fact the modern connotation of the wedding is very much a recent thing. Marriages historically were more of a transaction, where a woman was promised to a man and became his possession, relinquishing her own identity and free will in order to serve the needs of her husband. So much so, that even the concept of love in a marriage is a relatively new thing. 

In the UK it was the Victorian era that brought about the concept of choosing a partner for love and companionship, over connecting families via social status and for keeping up appearances. Although, despite this change in view for the foundation of a marriage, the courtship looks a long and laborious process with etiquette and social rules aplenty. Young unmarried women were not permitted to go out alone in order to meet with a man, they must always be escorted by an elder and have their mother's express permission to go out. A far cry from the modern times we know today. 

Meetings were often at balls or dances as presence at such showed the intention of the women to meet a suitor. Notably, the only touch permitted between a man and a woman who were unmarried was the offer of a hand for steadying if the road on which they were walking was uneven. Flirting, by use of a fan however, was socially acceptable! I can imagine this was seen as being rather risqué! Once the couple were engaged, they were permitted some time alone in order to take a walk, and could even be bold as to be allowed to hold hands in public!

Now, did someone say White Wedding?

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