English Renaissance bridal customs originated during the Middle Ages. With the advent of foreign trade came ideas that over the course of time changed wedding customs. Weddings became more extravagant. In many cases today brides and grooms are calling upon the color, splendor, and romance associated with this historic time to adorn their own ceremonies. Here is a look at some of the English Renaissance customs and laws of the time:
· On average, Renaissance grooms were 14 years older than their brides.
· More than three-quarters of the women were married before the age of 19.
· Renaissance marriages were often held at the bride's house. Couples belonging to the nobility would have their weddings in medieval castles.
Wedding Dresses and Garters
· Wedding dresses blue in color represented purity.
· A majority of brides were adorned in blue gowns.
· Garters were considered to be the bearers of good fortune. As the bride mingled throughout the night, guests would hold onto the garter for good luck.
· When a man gave his bride a garter, it would bring forth faithfulness.
Warding Off Evil
· During the Renaissance many believed evil spirits roamed the world and could curse the unity of two people. In order to confuse the spirits bridesmaids and the groomsmen would dress identically to the bride and groom on their wedding night to help ward off potential evil.
· A veil shielded against the evil eyes (and wishes) of wedding guests. Marriage Laws
· The Council of Westminster decreed in 1076 that no man should give his daughter or female relative to anyone without priestly blessing.
· Later councils would decree that marriage should not be secret but held in the open.
· The 16th century Council of Trent decreed a priest was required to perform the betrothal ceremony.
· Separation of couples was tolerated, but there was no legal divorce, though betrothals between those too closely related could be annulled.