Monday, 14 November 2011

The medieval wedding ceremony

From an amasing wedding posted in
the Londond Evening Standard
It's kind of strange that I have been writing on this blog for over 6 months about medieval weddings but I haven't mentioned the actual ceremony yet, so here it comes.
The Middle Ages was a long period and therefore the cermonial part of the wedding probably changed some over time. The church had great power but it took some time for the Christian ways to beat the older tradtions and form into that solidified ritual we know today.

From what I can gather the medieval ceremony was a very undefined thing. They only thing that was required for a marriage to be legally binding was consent between man and wife followed sooner or later by sex. A secret runaway wedding in the forest without a priest was as binding as the formal one where all guests gathered as witnesses.
From StyleMePretty
The church did prefere the ceremonies involving a priest as it was easier if the couple wanted an annulment when there had been no priest or family there to witness that it actually took place. And divorce was a sin at the time.
In the late Medieval Times the common way to have a ceremony was to walk with all the guests up to the church. Outside the church the couple would declare their consent and the priest would bless their union. Then everyone would go inside and attend mass.

From Facta et dicta memorabilia - second quarter of the 15th century
In Denmark a wedding is called "Bryllup" which derives from the old word Brudhlaup which means: Bridal run. It comes from a tradition where the entire wedding party would walk through the city in a procession. I am not certain if this was a demonstration of the magnitude of the wedding or simply a way to celebrate.

If you want a ceremony that's medieval you can almost make up want you want as there was no specific rules as to how it should be. If you prefere an outdoor wedding it will be as accurate as a wedding in a church. We have some litterary sources of the cermoniel words dating back to the renaissance that probably derives from medieval ceremonies.

If you want to read a little more my source was this article by Sharon L. Krossa


  1. That has given me a lot to think about. Our medieval service will be none-legal because we couldn't incorporate everything we wanted to legally, so we will marry the day before. We've had bit of a debate about what the ceremony will be because I wanted to do it as a proper service, he keeps talking about a blessing and our minister isn't sure where we stand!

    So now this is getting me thinking about how we do something that is just totally unique to us and incorporate the things that are important to us.

  2. I think it's very important to make a ceremony that seems right to you. Our ceremony will be legal, the officiant (hopefully the mayor) have been very active at the medieval museum, so I think he's up for listning to our wishes.

    We are also doing a sword and key ceremony. He gets a sword, as a token of his resposibilities for my safety, and I get the key to his home and fortune, as a symbol of my new status. :)