Marriage, like all of our human customs, has gone through a lengthy period of evolution. The statement weddings that we see today are a relatively new invention. Couples have, however, been formalising their relationships since pretty much the Stone Age. It’s fortunate that things have moved on since those early days. For starters, the woman tends to have a say these days. But there have been other changes, too.
Way Back When…
Once upon a time, it was common for tribes to ride from settlement to settlement pillaging resources. Those resources would of course include food and firewood. They would also include brides. The nature of ceremonies varied depending on custom. It was not uncommon for women to be traded for cattle and other food sources. Only in the Roman era did women begin to have a say in whether they got married, and to whom.
Fast forward a few thousand years…
Weddings as we recognize them today have their roots primarily in the 1800s. This is when people’s own personal sentiments began to have an input on things. At this point, the idea of marrying in a church was still not a consideration. Most marriages took place in the home – usually the groom’s – and the couple would wear the best clothes they owned. As a result, many brides of the time married wearing black – as their formal dress had to pull double duty for funerals, too.
Queen Victoria: Fashion Icon
It’s ironic, given that she would spend the last 40 years of her life clad in black. But Britain’s Queen Victoria sparked the trend for brides to wear white at their weddings. When she married Prince Albert, her white satin dress sparked a great deal of interest. It became the done thing to wear white, which has since become connected with the idea of chastity. To this day, it’s traditional for a bride to wear white.
The 20th Century: Weddings Become An Industry
As women’s rights have evolved, so has their position in the wedding story. Once treated as little more than property, brides of the 20th century started to assert their individuality. Although destination weddings were still limited to the very richest, dresses became a way to stand out. Ever more elaborate gowns were designed and sold, ready to wear. This saw the creation of bridal sections at department stores.
Today: The Reality TV Age And Themed Weddings
These days the wedding industry has become about more than just the joining of a couple in matrimony. It’s big business in every way, including entertainment with shows such as Say Yes To The Dress and Bridezilla. Even for those who don’t intend for their wedding to end up on TV, themed weddings have become a popular way of tying the knot. Island Paradise? Winter Wonderland? Whatever your esthetic, there’s a theme wedding for you!
But under it all, what still matters is the marriage and joining of two people in love. If you want to take it back to basics and marry in your best formal clothes, go right ahead. It’s about what makes you happy – now more than ever.