The more wedding traditions change, the more they stay the same, as every wedding and event planner worth her salt is well aware. In ancient Rome, brides carried herbs, like rosemary and garlic, underneath their wedding veils to symbolize fertility and fidelity. These herbs also were thought to ward off evil spirits. Roman wedding herbs were the early ancestor of the modern floral bouquets almost every bride now carries.
Speaking of ancient Rome, wedding guests would typically throw nuts and dates at the newly joined couple in early Roman times. Almost every culture the world over has a tradition of showering the bride and groom with symbolic food at banquet hall wedding receptions. In America, guests at wedding receptions throw rice at the new couple. In France, wheat is thrown. Sicilians toss bread and salt as couples leave wedding receptions, and in the UK, the actual wedding cake is hurled at the newlyweds during wedding receptions held at party venues. One hopes that the cake does not land in such a way as to ruin a wedding dress or a rented tuxedo!
When people use the expression “tying the knot” to describe getting married, they probably do not realize that the etymology of the term dates back to an ancient Babylonian ceremonial custom in which the threads of clothing warn by the bride and groom were tied together as a metaphor for their new union. These days, just half of people aged 18 and older have tied the knot, according to the Pew Research Center. Despite the romantic allure of wedding receptions and ceremonies, people are currently remaining single for longer than they ever have. One reason for this may be that cheap weddings are hard to come by. It costs the average bride and groom $27,000 to pay for their wedding. That is a lot of money to spend on one day, even for the best of wedding receptions!
One positive trend for modern marriages is that marrying someone of a different economic class is much less problematic than it used to be. A morganatic marriage, meaning a union between someone of royal personage and a non aristocrat, was at one time a cause for scandal. These days, however, it is not such a big deal, and the families of royal brides and grooms will attend wedding receptions of their low marrying relatives. They may grit their teeth throughout the ceremonies and wedding receptions, but at least they show up!