Victorian Wedding Traditions Part 3, by Funk Conspiracy
Welcome to the final instalment of Victorian wedding traditions. Now we move onto important people at the ceremony. Why do we have bridesmaids? What is the importance of the best man? What is the luckiest month to marry in? And did you know it was unlucky to take a man’s surname that began with the same initial as yours?
Bridesmaids are traditionally dressed in a similar way to the bride for the same reason as the origin of the veil. (See Victorian Wedding Traditions Part 1.) The bridesmaids were thought to act as decoys to confuse evil spirits and therefore protect the bride. The main reason for having bridesmaids is for protection.
The Best Man:
Like bridesmaids, it is the best man's duty to protect the groom from bad luck. His job is to ensure that once the groom has began his journey to the church he does not return for any reason. He must also arrange for the groom to carry a small mascot or charm in his pocket on the wedding day. It is also the duty of the best man to pay the church minister's fee, and he should pay him an odd sum of money to bring luck to the newlyweds.
The best man safeguarding the rings dates back to 200 AD. In these times, there was the possibility that the bride’s family would attempt to ‘steal’ her back from her man, so the best man would remain by the groom’s side throughout the ceremony, alert and well armed – usually with a sword! Nowadays the best man is ‘armed’ with the wedding rings, to safeguard the groom, right to the end of the ceremony as the couple are not officially married until the rings are placed on their fingers.
Which month should you get married:
May was considered an unlucky month to marry in for a number of reasons. In Pagan times the beginning of the summer was celebrated with the ‘Festival of Beltane’ which consisted of outdoor orgies! So this was thought to be an unsuitable time to start married life!
In Roman times the ‘Feast of the Dead’ and the ‘Festival of the Goddess of Chastity’ both occurred in May. The advice was taken more seriously in Victorian times. Queen Victoria is thought to have forbidden her children from marrying in May. June was considered to be a lucky month to marry in because it is named after ‘Juno’, the Roman Goddess of Love and Marriage.
It was thought to be unlucky for a woman to marry a man whose surname began with the same letter as her surname. This sentiment was summarised in the following rhyme:
“To change the name and not the letter
Is to change for the worse and not for the better.”
Thanks for enjoying our series on Victorian wedding traditions, more blog facts next week.
Written by Navella Caretto.