Odd Origins of "I Do"
By: Jessica Sanchez
> Brides-to-be, do you know the average cost of a wedding? No, of course you don’t, because if you did you wouldn’t be reading this article, you’d be frantically scouring the Internet trying to find a second, or even a third job. It‘ll run you about $27,800 according to TheKnot.com. That’s roughly how much it’ll cost to show off your wedding dress, bouquets, pew ribbons, flower girl, chair bows, and such to your family, friends, your mother’s 4th grade piano teacher, uncle Jim’s distant second cousin Jane, etc.
It may surprise you to know that many wedding customs stem from more than just a hormonal gene that compels women to desperately desire free gifts or things like real flowers and matching napkins. A lot of customs are steeped in world tradition that can actually be traced back hundreds of years before marketing companies were around to capitalize on them. So while the wedding process may seem like a masochistic ritual that we’ve all been tricked into desiring, there’s actually a method to the madness; a horribly skewed, materialistic shell of a method, but a method none-the-less.
Wedding rings - Though nowadays the wedding ring is a symbol of love and fidelity, nearly 5,000 years ago it held a more literal meaning for ancient Egyptians: eternity. The circle symbolized the idea of going on forever and ever and ever (and ever) with no discernible start or end point. Guess the Egyptians were more realistic about what marriage would be like. The tradition was later adopted by the Romans who placed the wedding ring on the fourth finger of the left hand because the vein in that hand - which they called the “vein of love” - runs directly to the heart. Of course, the Romans didn’t have access to Wikipedia at the time so there was no way for them to know that all fingers have a vein that runs to the heart. Or maybe they DID know it but kept it a secret lest the bride demand a ring for each finger.
Bouquets - When you think about it, flowers are probably the most ironic part of a wedding; they’re the most worthless and nonsensical decoration while at the same time being the most expensive and essential. A wedding without flowers is like a cake without frosting. Bland. But the tradition of carrying flowers may actually stem (ha!) from a very practical reason. Roman brides carried a bunch of herbs, such as garlic and rosemary, under their veils to symbolize fidelity and fertility and to ward off evil, but they would also carry flowers because, as the legend goes, people only showered once a year and fragrant flowers were used to cover the bride’s pungent body odor along with the groom’s stench of regret. Incidentally, that yearly bath was supposedly taken in May which brings me to the next tradition:
June weddings - Have you ever noticed that come March you have an unusually high number of birthday parties to attend? That’s likely because many of your friends were the result of a June honeymoon. June tends to be the most popular month for weddings, and while nowadays it has more to do with nice weather, some people theorize it may have had to do with the fact that centuries ago people took their yearly bath in May and still smelled pretty good in June. But historians say it was really about honoring the ancient Roman goddess of marriage, Juno. However, as time went on couples became more practical. They would get married in June so they could time the conception of their first child so the wife wouldn’t be too far along in her pregnancy to help out during harvest time, thus proving my point that chivalry died a long, LONG time ago.
The Best Man - The duties of the modern day best man have basically been reduced to paying for bottle service and lap dances, but centuries ago his role was slightly more dignified: kidnapping accomplice. Back then if the bride-to-be’s family didn’t approve of the groom he would have to do more than just force a smile and endure snide remarks over Thanksgiving dinner, he would have to sneak into her home at night and forcefully take her. To do this he would have to enlist the help of his most trusted male companion: the best man (you wouldn‘t want to bring along the so-so man for a task like this). But the best man’s job didn’t end there. During the entire wedding he would have to stand to the right of the groom, with his hand on his sword, prepared to protect the couple should the bride’s family try to get her back. Though some men today would probably rather use a sword to fight off an angry mob than have to stand up in front of a crowd and give the best man speech.
Bridal showers - This event has its roots in Holland and shows a less barbaric contrast to how women handled the issue of a father not approving of the husband-to-be. When a bride’s father refused to provide her with the necessary dowry to marry a man who was clearly beneath her, the bride’s friends, in an attempt to get her off the singles market, would rise to the occasion and “shower” her with gifts so she would have her dowry and be able to marry the man of her choice. Obviously dowries are no longer an issue today but naturally women aren’t going to pass up an excuse to get free gifts. So instead of letting the tradition reside comfortably in the annals of history, women have instead found a way to glorify it into yet another ritual in which they can ooh and ahh over things like stainless steel pots, or lacy under-things that are so scratchy and uncomfortable even the cat won’t lay on them.
Bridesmaids - Contrary to popular belief, being a bridesmaid was not a form of extreme medieval punishment for women who committed heinous acts of violence. From the 17th to 19th century, it was believed that evil spirits or spurned suitors would show up to a wedding to harm the bride and groom. So all the bridesmaids and groomsmen would dress the same as the couple and stand next to them so as to confuse the jealous entities. Eventually brides came to realize that they actually WANTED to stand out and they could do this more effectively by making their bridesmaids wear hideously ill-fitting dresses in colors usually only found in sherbet. <