The shield of arms was a way during the Middle Ages to show people what family you belonged to. It was primarily the wealthier families who had such a symbol and there was much pride in the blood line.
It will add a nice touch to the party if you make your own - one for the family of the bride and one for the family of the groom. You can paint them on two big wooden shields and hang them over the bride and groom during the reception.
It will also look impressive with tall banners hanging along the wall, maybe with other shield of arms to represent the "connections" to the family.
If you aren't as lucky as to have an actual shield of arms in the family you can:
1. Make your own - takes a little creativity but it's very fun and you can make it very personal.
2. Borrow someone else's shield - most nations have an official shield of arms - or you can google it and choose amongst the many powerful ones that pop up.
Try not to make it too complicated if you choose to make it yourself. You have to decide on:
a. Colours - should there be more than one? Remember the medieval is known for its use of bright strong colours. They may symbolise different virtues or something specific to you.
Red: Passion, war, love, blood fire. Blue: Purity, devotion, faith, royalty, water. Yellow: Sun, warmth, wealth, air, joy. Green: Hope, earth, fertility, family, children, courage. Black: Strength, power, night, secrets, myth, man, magic. White: Truth, day, woman, justice, clarity, superiority.
b. Symbols - often there's a lot of symbols on a shield of arms. An often used example is the lion, which is associated with kings and bravery. The French took a fancy to the lily, a symbol of beauty. There are weapons such as swords, bows, hammers, staffs, spears, axes and arrows. All tokens of strength and conquest. Then there are animals like: Hog (strength), swan (beauty), eagle (power), unicorn (supremacy), deer/stag (hunt, grace), dragon (unearthly power), Bear (wildness/greatness), fish (Christianity), owl (knowledge). Flowers also appear frequently, roses, lilies. Nature symbols like sun, moon, tree, ocean, star and mountain are very old. An example of objects could be cup, sceptre, crown, heart, cross, kea, horse shoe, shell.
(c.) a motto. Like: show no mercy, trust and fear not, Draco Dormiens Nunquam Titillandus (Never tickle a sleeping dragon - Hogwarts, Harry Potter), or Splendor sine Occasu (splendour without diminishment).
Have fun now :) - next entry I will tell you how I made mine.