I have seen myself quoted all over the world, on Women's Right sites, Bridesmaids sites, countless Wedding Websites and Wedding Planner Advice sites after this article was first published.
The quote that keeps coming up and that is causing so much controversy, is one most of you have heard me say before: "There is nothing romantic behind our western wedding traditions," says wedding expert Danielle Andrews Sunkel. Huh, who knew?
So I thought I would share the article with you, it was written by a writer we have worked with often and first appeared in the Wetaskiwin Times (link to article)
By Joanne Richard/Special to QMI Agency
Plan to wear a veil during the wedding ceremony? Get married in June? Have dear old dad give you away?
Know why? "There is nothing romantic behind our western wedding traditions," says wedding expert Danielle Andrews Sunkel. "Most traditions date back to the bride capture and allude to the transfer of property – the bride – from one owner to another."
Sunkel, a wedding planner, says that most couples continue to follow wedding traditions and formulas – "the ceremony may be more personalized and the venue may be different, but the components and foundation of the wedding will still be the same as a wedding 100 years ago."
Unlike other events or holidays, the same traditions and ceremony have stuck for hundreds of years, says Sunkel, owner of theweddingplanners.ca. "With the sheer volume of weddings, you would think that the basic foundations would change over time, but they really haven't."
Sunkel attributes it to religion. "Most couples get married in a church, so the minister, priest or rabbi follows the ceremony set out by their religion. Couples being married outside of a church still need to hire a wedding officiant, who also follows the same general pattern."
According to Sunkel, one tradition evolving is the father walking the bride down the aisle. "More and more I am seeing either both parents walking the bride down the aisle or the bride walking down alone."
Also vows have evolved to exclude the bride promising to obey her husband and more brides are choosing not to wear veils, adds Sunkel, president of The Wedding Planners Institute of Canada (wpic.ca).
Sunkel explains where some of the more popular traditions come from:
Bridesmaid dresses and the groom standing to the right of the bride: These traditions evolved during the time of bridal dowries and bridal capture. A bride with a handsome dowry was sometimes kidnapped on her way to the wedding.
"She would be forcibly married to her captor, then raped to consummate the marriage and the father would then have to pay the captor the dowry," explains Sunkel.
"Being a bridesmaid during these times was most definitely not an honour," says Sunkel, explaining that the bridesmaid was dressed in the exact same clothes as the bride so as to confuse any potential captors.
"Since it became more difficult to steal the bride on the way to the wedding, a band of men would storm the church and use force to capture the bride during the ceremony. The groom s
tood on the right of the bride so he could wear a sword on his hip – if someone tried to steal the bride, he could draw his sword and not cut off the bride's head in the process," says Sunkel.
Father giving the bride away: Until very recent history, women were widely considered chattel, says Sunkel, owned by their father or their husband. "Marriage was a business arrangement. The suitor would ask for the bride's hand in marriage knowing he would get a large sum of money or land dowry along with the bride."
The father would choose his daughter's husband based on how desirable a match the two families would make, she says. The deal was sealed when the father would literally hand over the daughter to her new owner at the pulpit.
White dress: Royals originally married in a silver dress, aristocrats in purple and others in blue to symbolize fidelity. But Queen Victoria changed all that when she wore white – she liked that white symbolized purity and chastity. "Unfortunately this trend has stuck… yet the white dress was never intended to judge whether or not the bride was a virgin – that was the role of the veil."
Veil: A measure of purity, "if the bride covers her face with a veil, she is saying she is a virgin," says Sunkel. A bride with a child or a second-time bride is never to wear a veil past her cheeks.
June weddings and bridal bouquets: June has been the most popular choice for weddings for centuries. That's because during the 1400 and 1500s, May was the month in which the 'annual bath' occurred, says Sunkel. "Back then people only bathed thoroughly once each year. As such, the over-all population smelled relatively fresh in June, making it a good time to hold a special event like a wedding." Body odour was further masked by brides picking flowers and forming a bouquet on the way to the wedding.
The wedding shower: The only tradition with a romantic history. "In Holland during the 1500 or 1600s, a wealthy man's daughter fell in love with a poor man. The father refused to allow the couple to get married and said if they eloped he would not give the man the daughter's dowry, in effect disowning her," says Sunkel. "Without the dowry, the couple had no way of setting up a home together and could not marry. The townsfolk loved this couple so much they showered the couple."