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Certified For Marriage: The Language of Weddings

Wedding ringsHere comes the bride! Here comes the…cook? What? Wait, what do all the words we use during a wedding actually mean, anyway? All the “grooms” and “bridesmaids” around the world take their titles for granted, but they all have a storied history. Let’s find out where some of them originated.

Are You Really Certified For Marriage?

Bride

It’s no secret marriages haven’t always been the sweet lovefests they are today. In fact, they were more a necessity than anything – often performed for money, or for power, or convenience. That’s why, political correctness aside, the word bride may originate from the Teutonic word for “cook!”

Bride also spawned other words, like bridegroom, bride-banquet, and bridal. “Bridal” was actually the feast of the wedding in its original form, but has since become a catch-all term for anything dealing with the wedding.

Bridal Cake

Bridal CakeSpeaking of the cakes eaten at the wedding, they also have their own origin. During the bridal (which, keep in mind, was the feast after the wedding) of an upper crust Roman wedding, the “confarreatio,” the young couple would chow down on little cakes made of salt, water, and flour. The bride would also hold on to three ears of wheat.

Strangely, the ears of wheat are where our modern cake tradition came from, not the little cakes! The ears evolved into grains of wheat, which were thrown at the wedded couple. The wheat grains later evolved into biscuits, which were broken over the bride’s head! These biscuits then became cakes, and voila.

Wedding

How about the name for the event itself? As mentioned before, weddings weren’t always the romantic parties we are used to nowadays. “Wedding” comes from the Anglo-Saxon word “wedd,” which was a promise the groom would marry the young lady but also the bride’s father would pay the groom’s father for the transaction. It’s no lie the roots of marriage have a lot more to do with business deals than with love!

Groom

Now for that other person who shows up on the big day, the one who just tries not to pass out or get too drunk at the bridal: the groom! The young man in the equation doesn’t have quite a storied history behind his name. The word in fact, originates just from the 1600’s.

“Groom” is shortened from “bridegroom.” We already learned about bride, but “groom” is derived from the old English word “guma,” which simply means boy. Sort of interesting when you think about it, as the tradition at that point was the bride was something to be acquired, but the name for the young man seems to imply the bride has control. Even back then they apparently knew who really wore the pantaloons in the family!