Tell me Why: wedding history

Small journey through the marriage, from Ancient Egypt to the present day.

Internet, TV, books and magazines flood future brides of advices and suggestions, making the to-do-list of the perfect wedding. The royal marriages brought back to the fore tradition and etiquette. But if many know what to do, little know the reason why: in this article, we want to make a little journey thorough the past.

We would never know of the first marriage in history, but it is sure that Egyptians used to make it, moreover in a very modern way compared women’s rights. Even the engagement, as moment of acquaintance was born in the Egyptian culture.

The wedding became an institution to which every civilization faced with mixing together religious and legal, public and private aspects. In ancient Rome family becomes a legal topic, legalized through the public rite. A curiosity: the roman right compelled to monogamy but admitted prostitution, concubinage, extramarital sex, homosexual sex and sex with slaves.

The Christianization of the roman empire and the following barbarian invasion modified those practices. On 534 the Imperator Giustiniano condemned extramarital sex and his code was the base of law for more than a millennium.

With the Lateranense Council IV in 1215, the Church regulated marriage for the first time declaring it an indissoluble sacrament also about civil effects. To avoid clandestine marriages publications were imposed and it was introduced in the rite the declaration of consent expressed live by the bride and the groom.

Nobles aside, since the begging of the 800, wedding is celebrated in a simple way: the bride wears her best dress, often the same one used for funerals or masses so it is black or dark. Brides from richer families choose colored and luxurious dresses, preferring blue, symbol of pureness. The white dress was reserved to French queens, but for funerals! On 1840 Queen Victoria married the Prince Albert and, from that day on, marriage wears white: before her, Queen Mary Stuarda already used the white dress, but later events suggested it was a bad omen. Status and charm of Queen Victoria won young women who desired a white dress for their own wedding.

From the XX century United States dictate the trends. Starting in the 20’s the support of a skilled person for the marriage it is something very common, but it is with the postwar that the White Wedding becomes the dream, maybe stereotyped, of young women. In the 70’s, following social revolution, everything was brought into play again, with a new will of difference and uniqueness.

The wonderful marriage between the Princess Diana of Wales and the Prince Carl brings back to tradition. In following decades, up to the present day, people hesitate between will of distinguish and love for tradition.

Despite the fact that cohabitation, even with children, it is not a taboo anymore in our society and that marriage has lost in part its contractual aspect, it remains a unique moment of life that finds its meaning in the sharing of the couple’s life project with their guests. So the wedding remains a passage rite, that today it is not “due” but wonderfully “wanted”.

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Credits

Special thanks to all the photographers for giving a "forever" to my commitment:
Cristiano Ostinelli Photographer; Fotomartiz ; Ray Clever; Daniele Torella Photographer; Lucia Brusetti Photographer; Luca Rajna Progetti Fotografici; Pictures of wedding; Piero D’Orto

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