How did weddings start?

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Marriage, as a custom, goes back to the very earliest history of man.

It has passed through three stages. The first was marriage by capture. Primitive man simply stole the woman he wanted for his wife. Then came marriage by contract or purchase. A bride was bought by a man. Finally came the marriage based on mutual love.

But even today we still have traces of the first two stages." Giving the bride away" is a relic of the time when the bride was really sold. The "best man" at weddings today probably goes back to the strong-armed warrior who helped who helped primitive man carry off his captured bride and the honeymoon itself symbolises the period during which the bridegroom was forced to hide his captured bride until her kinsmen grew tired of searching for her!

Today we have "weddings" without realising that this very word goes back to one of the early stages of marriage. Among the Anglosaxons, the "wed" was the money, horses or cattle which the groom gave as security and as pledge to purchase of the bride from her father.

Of course, when it comes to wedding customs, most of them can be traced back to ancient meanings which have long been forgotten. For example, the "something blue" which brides wear is borrowed from ancient Israel. In those times brides were told to wear a ribband of blue on the borders of their garments because blue was the colour of purity, love and fidelity.

When we ask, Who giveth this woman to this man? we are going back to the times when a bride was actually purchased. It is believed that the custom of having bridesmaids goes back to Roman times when there had to be ten witnesses at the solemn marriage ceremony.

Why do we tie shoes on the back of newlyweds' cars? It is believed that this goes back to the custom of exchanging or giving away of shoes to indicate that authority had been exchanged. So the shoe suggests that now  the husband rather than the father has authority over the bride.

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