16th Century Marriage Customs and their Influence on Modern World

Did you know that many of the marriage customs that we practice originated in the 16th century? Many 16th century marriage customs like the wedding cake or the wedding rings are still followed. Many of the beliefs, superstitions, and rituals involved in marriages are age old. The belief that it is bad luck for the bride to be seen in her wedding dress by the groom before the wedding is an example of the superstitions passed down from the 16th century.

The Proposal and Engagement in Ancient marriage customs

You might also be interested in the way the proposal was made in the 16th century marriage customs. A marriage proposal was a serious and formal issue. The prospective groom would send his kith and kin to the bride’s house to represent his interests. If they saw a blind man, a monk or a pregnant woman along the way, it would be regarded as an ill omen. If on the other hand, they saw a goat, a pigeon or a wolf, it would mean that the marriage would be successful.
The month and the day of the wedding were also thought out carefully. You might like to note that there are many poems and rhymes that depict how complicated the procedure was. Most weddings today occur on Saturdays. In the 16th century, Saturdays were said to be unlucky. People normally got married on a Monday, Tuesday or a Wednesday. The summer months were always considered to be the best times to get married. However, the month of May was expressly forbidden. It is believed that even Queen Victoria refused to let her children get married in May.

16th century marriage customs for the wedding day

There is a part of a rhyme:
“something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue, and a silver sixpence in your shoe”.
It means the couple has old friends. But a new life of happiness and unison is waiting for the couple. Something borrowed means that the bride has borrowed many things from her parents. In 16th century many things were returned to the parents for good luck. Blue has been a symbol of fidelity. The last sentence is a prayer for the couple to be rich.
There are many customs surrounding the bridal dress which you may like to learn about. The bride never makes her own dress as it is considered to be extremely unlucky. Also, the bride is never allowed to wear the entire outfit until the final day. She also leaves one stitch undone, until just before the ceremony, when the outfit is finally completed. Also, the white color of the wedding dress can be traced back to the 16th century. Most women before that period of time, wore their best dress. White was a popular color even then and this practice was given a boost when Queen Victoria got married in silver. “Married in White, you have chosen right” is a line out of a rhyme that offered advice on wedding dress color.
People were considered to be particularly susceptible to evil spirits on their wedding days. 

There were many precautions taken to avoid being cursed. The veil worn by the bride is one such superstition that is carried on today. This was meant to protect her and provide her with a disguise. There is another custom practiced that was originally started to confuse the evil spirits. The bridesmaids and the groomsmen would wear similar clothes as the bride and the groom.
Did you know that the custom of decorating with flowers is another custom passed on down the ages from the 1500’s? People often used orange blossoms to signify chastity and purity. Azaleas, roses and snowdrops were also popular. Often the groom would wear a flower from the bouquet carried by the lady in his buttonhole to signify his love for her. Red and white flowers were often avoided because they were thought to represent blood and bandages.
Here are a few customs that may amuse you. There was a belief that the person who made the first purchase after the wedding would be dominant partner in the relationship. Often, the brides made sure to buy something small like a pin, from the bridesmaids immediately afterward. Similarly, an old tradition still exists in the East. It was believed that whoever asked the first task to other shall dominate the partner for life. Many brides or grooms try to ask their partner to given them a glass of water or something like that.
The tradition of the bride throwing the bouquet backwards can also be traced back to this era. Originally, instead of a bouquet it used to be a shoe. In the 16th century the guests would throw shoes at the newlywed’s carriage. If they hit, it was considered lucky! This is practiced today in the form of tying shoes to back of the car.

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