The Wedding Ceremony: The Impact of Eduring Traditions

The Wedding Ceremony:

The Impact of Enduring Traditions


     This paper shall evaluate and compare
specific aspects of the Early Modern World (approximately 1550 C.E. to 1675
C.E.) and the 19th Century in terms of the customs, practices,
beliefs, art, music, and literature of these specific times.  As this is an extraordinarily massive topic
for a paper of this length, these various traits shall be broken down into the
general implication of the humanities.  It will be demonstrated that specific
similarities found in the various aspects of the humanities can be carried from
the Early Modern World to the 19th Century, and can be even traced
into today’s society.

humanities are best described as aspects of society that enrich the human
spirit, as they do not actually benefit the progress of sustaining life.  One cannot eat the humanities, nor shelter
within them, but one can indeed draw a form of social stability from them and
this in turn aids to the condition of the human spirit.  This can be interpreted as the reason that
the humanities have persisted in a relatively unchanged state for as long as
they have, where the inherent qualities of human needs are carried over from
generation to generation.

     The custom of the marriage ceremony manages
to embody many of these traits, and is therefore an excellent example of how
the humanities are carried through the eras. 
The marriage ceremony consists of religious and traditional practices,
as well as those relating to art and music. 
The marriage ceremony in the Early Modern World was quite different from
the modern ceremony in terms of scale, but there is evidence of many shared
traits within the ceremony proper.  One
source notes that the shared traits of the emphasis on religion is found within
both the marriage ceremony from the Early Modern World and from the 19th


     “The marriage
custom following the Renaissance Period was typified through the emphasis on
the role of Christ and the sacrifice that He had embraced for the welfare of
the human race:  The willing bond that
Christ had forged for the people of the world could, in a sense, be translated
into marriage where a personal sacrifice was needed in order to draw forth a
progressive marriage”  (Cooper:  78)


     The predominant theme of the Christian
Church can be seen to have been carried into the 19th Century, where
the role of Christ was perceived as a necessary factor in the role of the
newlyweds, and must therefore be fostered within the marriage ceremony.


“The immediate preparation for the
celebration of the sacrament of Matrimony should take place in the months and
weeks immediately preceding the wedding, so as to give a new meaning, content
and form to the so-called premarital enquiry required by Canon Law. This
preparation is not only necessary in every case, but is also more urgently
needed for engaged couples that still manifest shortcomings or difficulties in
Christian doctrine and practice.” 
(Halsall:  118)


     In addition to the presence of religious
beliefs, additional traditions can be seen to persist between the ages.  For example, customs in the marriage
ceremonies, such as the throwing of rice, can be traced as far back as medieval
times.  However, the custom was not the
throwing of rice but of other grains such as wheat or barleys:  The throwing of these grains was intended to
represent fertility, and suggested that the couple would have a bountiful
marriage.  (Saslow:  12) 
The transition to rice occurred when trade with the far East was opened
in the post- Renaissance era.  In the
Early Modern Period, the introduction of the white rice was more in keeping
with the culture of the wedding ceremony, and rice was quickly substituted for
the darker grains.  The presence of the
white rice has persisted through the Early Modern World period through the 19th
Century, yet differed in that the lower classes could afford to throw the
imported grains rather than only the upper classes.

same type of event occurred with the wedding dress:  Through the Renaissance period, all dresses for weddings were
elaborately designed with the beauty of the wearer in mind, but there were no
white dresses, as there was no true “white” cloth.  (Cooper:  31)  While light colors were used, such as fine
linens and muslins, a pure white in cloth was not actualized until the creation
of chemical bleaches in the later half of the Early Modern World period.  Yet when this occurred, the acceptance of
pure white as the color for wedding dresses was immediate.  (Saslow: 
180)  The color was immediately
imbued with the