An Old Fashioned Wedding The Renaissance Way

“Love and marriage” is an age old theme that continues to blossom every day.  One of the most interesting things about this is how it comes to be- the first meeting, evolution of the relationship, and of course, the wedding!  Throughout history, weddings have changed in many ways, but several base aspects have also remained intact.  So, let’s take a brief moment to get an overview of one of these eras…the Renaissance wedding.

Renaissance Gowns:

Renaissance bridal customs emerged from the leading of medieval traditions.  It was standard for marriage ceremonies to take place at the bride’s house while nobility got the royal treatment by having their ceremonies in castles.  As the Catholic Church rose to prominence during this period, there was a shift in location and weddings were held in a chapel or at the church door.  As was the case with many historical periods, Renaissance marriages were often arranged for the benefits of inheritance and property rights, which, in turn, could greatly boost the social status of either the bride or groom.  Also, women marrying older men was the norm of the day.  3/4 of Renaissance women were married before the age of 19 with grooms being 14 years older on average.

Renaissance Wedding Gown & Veil:

Renaissance Wedding Gown & Veil

During the Renaissance era, there were two parts to the wedding.  First, the soon-to-be bride and groom would exchange vows, kisses, and rings before a priest and after that, it was 40 days until the official ceremony transpired.  This waiting period could be prolonged even more depending on the season.  Wedding ceremonies were restricted during certain times such as Christmas and Easter.  Getting married also proved to be costly for the groom, as he was required to put down a deposit at the time of betrothal.  In the event that he did not go through with the wedding, he would pay four times the deposit amount.

In contrast to the freedom of today’s marriages, the Council of Westminster drafted marriage laws during the Renaissance period.  Some of these laws included such things as a man could not give away his daughter or female relative without a priestly blessing and making marriage a public event rather than a secret one.  And in the 16th century, the Council of Trent deemed it a requirement for a priest to perform the ceremony.  Separation was permissible, but there was no official divorce.

Anjou Gown:

Anjou Gown

A Renaissance wedding procession was grand, featuring minstrels playing music, knights and pages, and guests dressed in their finest and most colorful attire.  For a wedding of nobility, there were elaborately decorated and brightly colored robes and gowns.  Upper class wedding apparel was typically made of silk, which was forbidden to peasants in some areas.  All clothing was also commonly embroidered with gold or silver trim and lavishly ornamented.  Men usually wore ruffled collared shirts, padded jackets, hosiery, and square toed shoes.  As time went on, bridesmaids and groomsmen started to wear the same clothing as the bride and groom to trick those who desired to wish the wedding couple evil on the special day.

While the customs and laws of a Renaissance wedding and marriage may no longer be practiced, Renaissance wedding styles remain popular today.  To view our selection of Renaissance wedding attire and other period clothing, go to:

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