Wedding Customs



Laws relating to Marriage

Marriage laws began to evolve during the Renaissance. The Council of Westminster decreed in 1076 that no man should give his daughter or female relative to anyone without priestly blessing. Later councils would decree that marriage should not be secret but held in the open. But it wasn't until the 16th century Council of Trent that decreed a priest was required to perform the betrothal ceremony. Separation of couples was tolerated, but there was no legal divorce, though betrothals between those too closely related could be annulled.

Marriage Customs

Grooms, on the average, were 14 years older than their brides. Noble women sometimes didn't marry until the age of 24, but this was rare. More than 3/4 were married before they reached 19. By today's standards, western Europe was inhabited by the young, with more than half of the population under 20 years of age