THERE'S nothing like a June wedding, except another June...

salmagundi

June 13, 1994

THERE'S nothing like a June wedding, except another June wedding, or any wedding really. With the exception of roller-coaster ring-exchanges or underwater vows, the average wedding ceremony has been around for centuries.

According to Charles Panati's "Extraordinary Origins of Everyday Things" (Harper & Row, 1987), the custom of announcing an engagement began during the Holy Roman Empire. fTC Charlemagne, Emperor of the Romans, required plans for marriage to be publicly announced at least seven days prior to the ceremony, to give anyone who had a reason for the couple not to marry a chance to come forward.

The main purpose was to prevent unknowing brothers and sisters, half-siblings and first cousins from conceiving. It also provided a last chance for the unfaithful to fess up.

Traditionally, the best man was the groom's strong-arm in abducting a bride, but the groom himself had the honor of carrying her to their new home (or over the threshold). The best man was often the only one who knew where the groom was taking his bride for a "honeymoon" or into hiding, as the case may be.

The symbolism of the wedding ring can be traced to ancient Egypt 2800 B.C. A circle, having no beginning or end, signified eternity, the intended duration of their devotion. Some, however, speculate that it is symbolic of the clamp around the ankle of a kept woman.

It didn't matter if the wedding cake was dry or lacking in flavor because it was thrown, not eaten. Originally, guests would throw wheat grains at the bride to ensure fertility. Around 100 B.C. Roman bakers tried to alter the practice by baking the wheat into small cakes, but the guests, accustomed to throwing something, then threw the cakes. Also thrown throughout history: biscuits, old shoes, rice and (for easy clean up) bird seed.

So if it seems as if all weddings are the same, that's because they have been for ages.

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