Medieval Wedding Books & CDs

Medieval Celebrations: How to Plan for Holidays, Weddings, and Reenactments With Recipes, Customs, Costumes, Decorations, Songs, Dances, and Games by Daniel Diehl

The Medieval Wedding Guide by Vanessa Hand

   In Medieval times, marriages were often done by arrangement. The couple were generally strangers until they met at the altar or briefly when they were betrothed and the marriage contracts were negotiated. One of the possible reasons for the bride veil was to insure that the arranged marriage was sealed before the groom could understand what he had received. Girls were as young as 12 when they married, and boys as young as 17.
   After the marriage was arranged, a wedding notice or banns was posted on the door of the church. The notice was put up to ensure that there were no grounds for prohibiting the marriage. The notice stated who was to be married, and if anyone knew of any reasons the two could not marry. If the reason were a valid one, the wedding would be prohibited. There were many reasons for prohibiting a marriage: rape, adultery, incest, consanguinity (too closely related), or if either had taken a monastic or religious vow (sometimes widows or widowers took vows of celibacy on the death of their spouse).
   The ceremony could not take place during a time of fasting, such as lent or advent. Church ceremonies took place outside the church door before entering the church for a nuptial mass. The man stood on the right side and the woman on the left, facing the door of the church. "The reason being that she was formed out of a rib in the left side of Adam". The ceremony proceeded with the blessings, vows, and ring exchange. As husband and wife, the newly wed entered the church, where they kneeled before the altar. At the altar, the priest gave a prayer and blessing, followed by the nuptial mass. Many of the things that took place during a medieval wedding have become traditions, and are currently practiced today.

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