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Wedding Bells During Ancient Roman Times Part 2
Posted In: Ancient Civilizations  4/25/06
By: Yona Williams

After the courtship and the declaration of love, comes the wedding ceremony. In this article, you will encounter some of the wedding preparations and details associated with the ancient Romans, including the wedding dinner and other traditions that we may still see today. 

 

When dealing with the wedding preparations, on the night preceding the big day, the bride-to-be gave her birth locket, also known as a bulla, to her father. All the toys in her possession were given to other family members. The bride slips into her wedding dress, which usually consisted of straight tunic, which was woven in one piece that would dangle long enough to reach her feet. When morning arrived, the mother dresses the bride.

 

Some believe that the veil is one of the most important parts to a wedding dress ensemble, but it was actually a belt that was tied around the waist of the bride. This belt was referred to as the “knot of Hercules,” which stood for the protector over a marriage. This knot could only be untied by the husband. A flame colored veil was worm over the dress, which was topped with a wreath of flowers that the bride had collected on her own.

 

The wedding ceremony was held at the house of the bride’s father. Guests would gather to share in this momentous occasion. During these days, at least ten witnesses had to attend the wedding and serve as witnesses, in order for the ceremony to be deemed legal. Holding hands, the bride and the groom would stand in front of a priest. Consent to the marriage would be made known by the bride, which was presented in the form of a chant. The groom would recite similar words. After these words were spoken, the couple sat on stool, which faced an alter. This was when an offering was made to Jupiter, which was often a piece of cake. Once this offering was made, which was by the priest, the bride and groom would also eat the cake. The marriage was complete and further celebration could now occur.

 

A wedding dinner was then held at the house of the bride or less often, the groom. Pieces of the wedding cake were given to participants, which is a tradition that is still followed today. When the dinner party is complete, the bride is escorted to her new husband’s dwelling. This part of the wedding was required to ensure the marriage. Anyone could join in on the bridal procession, even those that did not attend the wedding ceremony. Torchbearers and musicians would come to the bride’s father’s house. The daughter stayed with her mother and the groom playfully pulled the daughter away from the mother, where they would then parade to the new house. Instead of throwing rice, ancient Romans threw nuts during this time.

 

The bride repeated the consent chant before entering her new home, where the husband followed by carrying her through the door. Then, the doors would close and only the invited may enter. Ceremonial wood could be found in the fireplace, which the bride lit with a “marriage” torch. When the torch was blown out, the bride would then throw in into a crowd of guests. Just like the flower bouquet is important, this is how the torch was regarded during ancient Rome.

 

Arrival at her new home: In front of the open door, the bride once more recited the consent chant. Then her new husband carried the bride over the threshold and the doors were closed against the general crowd. Invited guests, however, could enter. In the fireplace, wood was laid ready for a fire. The bride lit this wood with her "marriage" torch, a special torch that had been carried in front of her during the procession. The torch was then blown out, and tossed among the guests, who scrambled for it, like a bride's flower bouquet is today.

 

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