Sunday, May 03, 2009

Question from Lesley - Format of a Tudor wedding

I'm trying to find out the general format of a Tudor wedding. I'm particularly interested in the type and structure of a wedding in 1535. It would be an ordinary couple, living in a small village. For example, where would the wedding have taken place - bride's home? Would it have been a catholic ceremony? Did the bride and groom receive gifts from guests. etc. Thank you.


PhD Historian said...

You might look at David Cressy's Birth, Marriage, and Death: Ritual, Religion, and the Life-Cycle in Tudor and Stuart England. Even though his book deals mostly with the period after Edward VI's Book of Common Prayer of 1552, it does address the pre-Reformation wedding ceremony in some detail (pp. 336-338).

Yes, the marriage ritual or ceremony would have been conducted using Roman Catholic rites. The fundamental liturgical rituals of the church in England did not change until somewhat later, many years after 1535. If I recall correctly, the marriage ritual did not change until the Book of Common Prayer of 1552.

Wedding ceremonies would almost always have taken place at the parish church. Marriage in the Roman Catholic Church was and is one of the seven sacraments. A wedding ritual therefore included a formal mass, complete with communion. And communion, in turn, required an altar that met Church standards ... usually available only in a parish church or a domestic chapel.

And gift giving did take place. A woman's dowry was itself a kind of gift. But friends and family might also give gifts, though they were often more symbolic than substantial. Food was a common gifts, for example.

Cressy describes "bride-ales," a kind of early modern bake sale that included ale-making, as a means to raise money for wedding celebrations. While that idea probably pre-dates the Reformation, do be careful that many of the practices that Cressy describes are post-Reformation only and may not have existed in 1535.

PhD Historian said...

By the way, you can access Cressy's book using Google Books if it is not in your local library.

Ghostwriter said...

Thank you. I'll find it. Appreciate the information.