We Are Gathered Here
What a Wedding Looks Like to a Lens
The Wedding is the perfect dramatic backdrop. It is because this is where heightened anxieties and emotions play out. I have an eye for narrative. So, in that way, I have an illustrator’s eye. A wedding lens looks for social nuances.
During the middle ages, we saw the rise of marriage laws. In 1076, The Council of Westminster made it a law that marriage must be blessed by a priest, and in the 16th century it was said that the marriage must be performed by a priest with witnesses present. Contracts and legal documents started to be drawn up, similar to today’s prenuptial agreements, marriage contracts and licenses. Dowry, property, rights, etc would be contained in these documents.
What They Wore and Why
Believe it or not but in the Middle Ages, a woman’s beauty regimen prior to her wedding is very similar to what I did before mine. Her face would often be painted with some sort of cosmetic. Then she might have sun-bleached her hair. Some women plucked their hairline. Also in the middle ages, it was considered fashionable to have a high forehead. Now this one I didn’t do, but I have a friend who wasn’t very fond of her widow’s peak. Hair would be worn loose or with a garland of flowers. This might be the only flowers adorning a bride. Some carried a sachet of herbs and potpourri, but not the traditional bouquet that contemporary brides carry.
If a woman came from a family of wealth, she would have a nice hot bath, followed by application of some flower and herb scented oils. If she wasn’t, she would be dirty…but still get some sort of perfume to cover the smells. It may be foul to think about, but everyone was dirty back then, it was just normal.
The finest silks with gold or silver embroidery would be worn. Brightly colored fabrics were popular. Men would wear their finest court attire, or even a newly made set of clothes. Jewelry, furs and elaborate belts adorned every noble body.
Today white is the symbol of purity, and most wedding dresses made in this hue. In the middle ages this wasn’t so. Bride’s would wear blue most often, as blue was the symbol of purity. If her gown was not blue, she would wear something blue, like a ribbon on her person. Hence today’s, “something blue.”