Marriage: the romantic union of two people that are so in love that they decide to legally bind themselves together till death do they part. Put in such blunt terms, it kind of loses its romantic feel. But that is the point of marriage, right? To express to your lover, your best friend and "your person" that the love you share is unique, special and ever-lasting. Besides, who doesn't enjoy a little love story?
Weddings are a day to celebrate, to cheer, to cry, to smile and to just be gosh darn happy. And, of course, there are the typical wedding traditions that everyone expects and looks forward to, such as the clinking of the glasses to initiate a kiss from the newlyweds, cutting the cake and romantically feeding it to the spouse and, of course, the father-daughter dance that makes the entire crowd weep. They are sweet traditions that make for amazing memories.
But, of course, not all the traditions have such innocent roots. In fact, the origins rather contradict that purpose of a loving marriage and instead derive from a disturbing and horrific tradition, often at the unwilling expense of the woman. Here are just five examples.
1. The Veil
The veil, that elegant lace fabric that delicately lays over the bride's head that shimmers over her face and escapes down the back into the beautiful pattern of the pearl white dress. Beautiful and idyllic, right? But, why a veil?
Well, when daughters were a commodity of the family used for profit in arranged marriages, the daughter's face would be covered during the ceremony only to be revealed after they are legally bound, so that the groom would not see the bride's face beforehand and deny the marriage. So, that elegant lace fabric was actually a way to hide the bride so that a family could ensure their payment and the groom couldn't be an asshole and flee.
2. Carrying over the threshold
While yes, it seems to be a fading tradition, everyone still knows what it is and maybe even your mom and dad did it: the cute moment when the husband gracefully carries his new wife in his strong arms through the doorway as the adoring crowd claps and cheers. Yep, just hold those applauds. This tradition dates back to when Sabine Women, from Roman Mythology, were kidnapped and then raped by Roman soldiers. And of course, since these women did not leave willingly, the soldiers would forcibly drag them away, otherwise referred to, carrying them over the threshold.
3. The Honeymoon
Arguably the best part of getting married. Those blissful few weeks after you get married during which you get to bask in the sun and the presence of your new spouse. How exciting! That is, until you realize the honeymoon used to be the period the man would hide his kidnapped "bride" until the family stopped looking for her or until she would become pregnant and, therefore, rejected by her family. Which also explains the tradition of consummating the marriage, because once the man got the women pregnant, that marriage would not be objected. Not so blissful anymore.
4. Bride on the left, groom on the right
It seems to be less of a tradition, and more of a given at this point. But, why? Well since most people are right-handed, the man would stand on the right side to hold the bride with his left hand and his sword with his left hand. This was either to attack anyone who tried to kidnap the woman or to fight his way out of battle while dragging the kidnapped woman behind him. Terrific.
5. Taking the man’s last name
This tradition is taking a turn. Now more than ever, women are keeping their last names instead of taking the man's last name when getting married. (YAY!) But just for the sake of reiterating how important it is for women and men to have a choice on literally changing their identity, let me tell you a quick tale.A time when women had no power, they were seemingly nothing outside of their marriage. They were forced to rely on their husband for everything, they were not granted any sort of political, economic or personal freedom. And, therefore in the 19th century, English law required women to take their husband's surname, because just denying any form of rights is not enough, they must also renounce their own name.
Although there are multiple origins that contribute to these traditions varying from culture to culture, the fact remains: these marriage traditions came at the sexual, physical and societal expense of the woman. Marriage is beautiful and weddings are spectacular, but it is important to know that when you say, "I do," each partner has an equal and fair representation in the union.