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Weddings in Castles

Medieval Wedding Traditions

Weddings during medieval times gave birth to many traditions that today's brides still follow.

Betrothal was an important medieval tradition. The prospective bride and groom appeared in front of a priest and made solemn promises. They then exchanged rings and kisses, then waited for roughly 40 days, when the wedding ceremony then took place. Grooms were required to pay a "deposit" at the betrothal, and should he try to back out of an agreement, he would have to pay a penalty. This was equal to four times the betrothal price.

Medieval brides often wore blue, the traditional color of purity, rather than today's white dress.

The traditional Maid of Honor began in England where the senior of the bridesmaids attended to the bride's every need the week or so before her wedding day. She was also responsible for creating the bouquet and other wedding decorations. On the wedding day she would help the bride dress.

During the feast, the bride and groom drank spiced wine from a fine chalice called the Wedding Cup. As midnight approached, guests tried to get into the newlywed's bedchamber to bring them a reinvigorating potion called "Bride's Broth".

Knights returning from the Crusades introduced medieval society to the tradition of a bridal veil. The veil was another symbol of purity and was also believed to protect the bride from "the evil eye."

Garters became an important part of a medieval bride's wardrobe. As the couple hurried to their room, wedding guests followed and tried to grab the garter for good luck. Before this tradition, overzealous wedding guests often shredded the bride's clothing trying to grab a handful of lucky cloth. Tradition held that any man who gave his love a bride's garter would be guaranteed faithfulness.

Flowers were also important in a medieval wedding. Returning crusaders introduced medieval Europe to a Saracen tradition of weaving a crown out of orange blossoms. Only nobles could afford these very expensive blossoms.