Weddings of the Middle Ages

Middle Ages
As the ages have past weddings have changed, the most interesting weddings took place in the middle ages. Middle ages were full of mystery and lust, women were not merely wives but prizes and a possession, rarely was it love. The reasons of which people were married was determined by their class. Most of the marriage laws we know today evolved during this era. The celebrations were extravagant, full of color and magnificent entertainment and exquisite feasts, radical compared to prior ages. The middle ages were truly a turning point as weddings evolved.


The major difference between the weddings of the Middle Ages and now was the motives and reasoning behind them. Medieval marriage ceremonies depended on the social class of the two to be married. People of the middle ages were grouped into two groups the noble class and the peasants. The nobles cared about their name and there social stature thus arranging marriages for their children was commonly known. The children would have a set spouse by the age of ten or eleven. The main reason for this practice was to keep success and the acquisition of wealth in families. The marriages were matters of business rather then love. This was not so true with the peasants; peasants marriages were more sincere or would take place due to a pregnancy. Unlike weddings today they depended on who you were rather then who you wished to be or wish to be married to.

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After your bride or grooms were chosen for you many preparations would take place. The ceremony about to take place would be the biggest one you had seen unless you had been to other weddings. Many meetings between the two families would take place as more arrangements were made. The next few weeks would be a time of excitement and wonder. Not only have you not seen your future spouse but you might not have even been given the chance to know his her name, the reason for this is unsure. Depending on family and other factors you may have been given the chance to see your future spouse six or five days prior to the wedding. During the middle ages the custom was known to be celebrated in castles and courtyards as long as a priest blessed the bride and groom. In ages prior to the Middle Ages weddings could not take place anywhere but the churches. As time proceeded the Catholic Church gave more room in regards to where the ceremonies could take place. Many people would be invited much food served and many jests performing. Dancing would take place, jugglers would juggle, the great feasts served. This indeed would be a party to remember.


Wedding celebrations were spiced with elegant costumes and the smell of flower oils in the air. Many people would be invited depending on the social class of wedding. Many new fabrics and cloth were introduced at this time period, a myriad of color and texture woven onto the courtroom floor of each wedding. The grooms clothes consisted of fine stitching with golden threads, studded with gems and precious stones. The brides apparel differed between family tradition, the dresses were usually past down from their mothers or modeled after it, flowers were woven into wigs made of peasants hair. Clothing was just one of the key factors to a perfect middle age marriage.


Wedding feasts could not be things to forget. These feasts had much variety. Roasted Quail, turtle doves, goose, roasted boar, and peacock are just some of the many foods served. No matter the class of wedding a great feast would always be served. The huge feasts could not be saved thus the guests would stay until the food was finished. They would use their hands and sometimes forks as they were introduced farther down the timeline. It was well known that if they eat they also were entertained, many entertainers were hired for such an occasion. The food which was not finished would be thrown into the streets for beggars and peasants. There are many key factors which the weddings must had done, but one of the most important part of the celebration was indeed the feasts.


Even today, gifts are given to the bride and groom after or before each wedding. Gifts are given from family to family, spouse to spouse, spouse to family, and guests to spouses, the list could go on. In the middle ages many gifts were exchanged to different peoples depending again on social class. Three main gifts were exchanged, if not more. The grooms family was responsible for finding a home and income for the future couple. Another gift was from the priest, that being just a simple blessing. The last gift was the brides family purchased the groom from the grooms family. These gifts were more prior to the wedding or less materialistic as wedding gifts we know today. Some more materialistic gifts were given after the wedding ceremony. These gifts would be small wooden furniture fabrics and spices. Also the groom would give a morning gift to the bride after their night as a thank you gift to compensate for the loss of her virginity. The property of the bride would then go to the groom and the two families connected from marriage would have more of a connection then prior almost a bonding of two families. As we get into the meaning behind certain practices and gifts we can see that they arent just for the future couple but many processes and meaning are behind them.


Weddings today are much more different then marriages of the past. Many of the customs from then have made their way to this era but also many havent. we can see many differences and also many similarities. The biggest difference is the control of marriages and the arranged marriages that took place. In todays culture we are not grouped by social stature as they were then, our marriages are based on love not class. I think this is a good thing and I am happy to be blessed by God to be able to have the freedom of choice in something as important and life changing as a marriage.
In conclusion we can see times have changed. The middle ages were interesting in context but not as interesting to lived out. We can learn a lot from the culture of the middle ages. I am very interested on how things have changed and notice some of the similarities. I am blessed to live in such an awesome era and happy to have the opportunity to learn about such a interesting one.

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