Medieval Weddings & Customs

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Medieval Weddings and Customs
By Kelly Bell
When we think about marriage today, we think about two people who are in love and want to spend the rest of their lives together. It is considered a serious commitment and not taken lightly for most people. You wouldn’t likely marry a stranger you had just met but in medieval times marriage was quite different. Women didn’t have a choice as to who they would marry and most of the time they didn’t even know the man before they were married. Despite the differences in today’s marriages and marriages in medieval times, the ceremonies have stayed rather similar over the years. We still carry on some of the same traditions today as they did back then. In Medieval times marriages were done by arrangement. Women were not allowed to choose who they wanted to marry. However, sometimes men were able to choose their bride. Marriage was not based on love as it is today. Husbands and wives were generally strangers until they first met. If love was involved at all, it came only after the couple had been married. The arrangement of marriage was done by the parents. Children were married at a very young age. Girls were as young as 12 and boys as young as 14 when they were married. The arrangement of marriage was based on monetary worth. The family of the girl gives a dowry, or donation, to the boy she is to marry. A dowry is money, property, or goods that a woman brings as a gift to her husband upon marriage. The dowry goes with her at the time of the marriage and stays with the boy forever. After the marriage was arranged, a wedding notice was posted on the door of the church. The notice was put up to ensure there were no grounds for prohibiting the marriage. The notice stated who was to be married, and if anyone knew any reasons the two could not marry they were to come forward with the reason. There were many reasons for prohibiting a marriage. In example, if the two were too closely related, if either of...
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