It was not until about 860 that the Christians used the ring in marriage ceremonies; even then, it was not the simple plain band as we know it. It usually was highly decorated with engraved doves, lyres, or two linked hands. The Church discouraged such rings as ‘heathenish’ and, around the 13th century, wedding and betrothal rings were considerably simplified, and given a more spiritual look. The spiritual aspect was conveyed by Bishop Durant when he declared that wedding bands were a “symbol of the union of hearts.” In the U.K., the people believed so strongly in the necessity for a ring that if a groom were too poor to buy one, he rented one for the occasion.
These rings were made of materials such as reeds, grasses, plants etc. and didn’t last very long and soon were substituted with rings made of leather, bone or ivory. The more expensive the material, the more love shown to the receiver; the value of the ring also demonstrated the wealth of the giver.
The Roman’s also eventually adopted this tradition but with their own twist. Rather than offering a ring to a woman as a symbol of love, they awarded them as a symbol of ownership. Roman men would “claim” their woman with the giving of a ring. It is also said that the Romans were the first to engrave their rings.
This research seems a little dry and uninteresting. But over and over, the same themes came up.
The Following Is A Brief History Of Engagement Rings According To Readers Digest:
Pre-History: The caveman tied cords made of braided grass around his chosen mate’s wrists, ankles, and waist, to bring her spirit under his control.
Circa 2800 BC: Egyptians are buried wearing rings made of a single silver or gold wire on the third finger of their left hands, believed to be connected directly to the heart by the vena amoris.
2nd Century BC: According to Pliny the Elder, the groom gives the bride first a gold ring to wear during the ceremony and at special events, then an iron ring to wear at home, signifying her binding legal agreement to his ownership of her.
1st Century BC: Puzzle rings first appear in Asia, where sultans and sheiks use them to tag each of their wives.
1477: In one of the first recorded uses of a diamond engagement ring, Archduke Maximilian of Austria proposes to Mary of Burgundy with a ring that is set with thin, flat pieces of diamonds in the shape of an “M.”
1800s: The highly sentimental Victorians make jewelry from human hair, and use gemstones to spell out names or endearments, such as a D-E-A-R-E-S-T ring set with a sequence of diamond, emerald, amethyst, ruby, emerald, etc.
1867: Diamonds are discovered in the Cape Colony (now a province in South Africa), the beginning of a huge increase in the diamond supply.
1880: Cecil Rhodes, who arrived in South Africa in 1873, founds the DeBeers Mining Company with other investors. Within the decade, they will control 90 percent of the world’s diamond production.
1886: Tiffany & Co. introduces the “Tiffany setting,” a six-prong ring designed to maximize a diamond’s brilliance by raising it up from the band.
1890s: Affordable wedding rings and diamond engagement rings appear in mail-order catalogs, such as Sears & Roebuck.
1920s: Manufacturers and retail jewelers try to launch the concept of men’s engagement rings, which sinks like a lead balloon.
Early 1940′s: Engagement rings become the leading line of jewelry in most department stores.
2000: Amid growing concern over human rights violations associated with their trade, the diamond industry creates the World Diamond Council to develop and oversee a tracking system that will “prevent the exploitation of diamonds for illicit purposes such as war and inhumane acts.”
2002: According to a Fairchild Bridal Group Study, more than a third of couples buying diamond engagement rings spend at least two months’ salary.
This research seems a little dry and uninteresting. But over and over, the same themes came up. I think that the origin and tradition seems a little blurry to me….or maybe it just changed a lot from what it means now in 2012. I think that we (I will speak for us here in the U.S. only) wear wedding rings as symbols. They symbolize ever lasting, never-ending love and commitment, just like the ring has no beginning or end. The ring expresses something about our tastes in jewelry, for some it expresses status. For sure it is an outward symbol that demonstrates commitment and fidelity. And privately, the rings signify a symbol of love, promises and dreams that the couple will share for the rest of their lives
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Why does the bride carry a bouquet? The origin of this tradition is a little blurred…. One of the reasons that brides carried bouquets was born out of the ‘necessity’ of covering odor, trying to smell pretty on that special day. Ever take a tour in one of the older cities in Europe, let’s say Edinburgh for example? It was a very odiferous lifestyle way back then! In the 1600’s and for a very long time afterwards, people bathed extremely infrequently. According to the Huffington Post, during the 15th century, people took their yearly baths in May and would generally get married in June. Just to be safe, brides carried bouquets to mask the smell of body odor. You will find this reason repeatedly if you research the tradition behind the bride carrying a bouquet. Another old and popular custom for carrying a bouquet, was to ward of evil spirits. Usually these bouquets were made from very pungent herbs, spices and yes, garlic could be involved. I am thinking that you could kill two birds with one stone with a garlic bouquet; evil spirits and evil odor could be knocked out with one bouquet! Oh the old days! Sometimes the spices/flowers that were included in the bouquet, for example; dill and marigolds (edible) were added and subsequently served up at the wedding feast to promote lust. So think about the fun that you can have with your bouquet! I will paraphrase what I recently read in “Herlife” Magazine with regard to the tradition. “In ancient times, a bride was considered especially lucky on her wedding day. So, guest were compelled to tear off parts of her dress to obtain a good luck talisman for themselves! Not all brides cared for this activity, as it seamed unpleasant to have their clothing ripped from her bit by bit, compliments of the guests. So it evolved, that the bride outsmart her guest by giving an offering of herself; enabling a guest to obtain a lucky talisman and allowing herself to keep her clothing intact: she starting throwing her garter and bouquet in lieu of pieces of her dress.”
I was glad to find this article, because it now explains to me some of the crazy bouquet grabbing, or should I say tackling behaviour that I have witnessed at some of my family and friends weddings! Somewhere around the 1700’s brides started carrying pretty bouquets, because: bouquets are pretty! and, this tradition is still in style today. bouquets bring beauty, elegance, a touch of the color scheme, and a bit of the old custom to your day. There are many florist to shop for your flowers, if you are looking for a good florist here in the Evergreen, CO area, check out Stems, I simply must mention them here, because I have seen some really creative, elegant, and impressive flowers at some of the weddings that we have photographed, all compliments of this designer. But, I digress. So, bouquets: they also may be used to express yourself through the flowers themselves. Roses represent everlasting love, lilac is for first love, Stephanotis is good luck, ivy says fidelity and on and on. You can really add some beauty and say a lot about yourself with a bouquet. This custom seems to have evolved quite a bit from its origin, but todays tradition for the bouquet: added beauty and personal expression.
This past winter we did an engagement shoot in Breckenridge with Jen and Scott. We got to know them, and realized quickly that they have a great sense of humor. At their wedding in Keystone, it was obvious that their sense of humor is shared by their family and friends!
Their wedding was so awesome! From the very meaningful ceremony officiated by Leon Littlebird, with his amazing Native American flute playing, and a Sage Ceremony, to their highly entertaining friends and family.
DJ – DJ Guy, Zack Demare. (Some DJ’s can be pretty cheesy… NOT Zack!)
Catering – A Chef’s Touch. Outstanding! We’re still talking about the Prime Rib!
Flowers – Bloom Flower Shop. Their work was very creative, and held up great all day! See for yourself in the pics.
Venue – Warren Station in Keystone. If your looking for a great venue, right next to the Quaking Leaf Amphitheater (Ceremony site), in Keystone…
Officiant – Leon Littlebird. We met Leon at an event at Arapahoe Basin this past winter, and really took to him. He is a VERY talented, nice guy!
Hair and Makeup – Serenity Spa & Salon. This is the second wedding that we have worked on with Serenity. They do a great job, in a very cool & convenient location, right at Keystone!
Check out some of Jen and Scott’s images! Comments are not only welcome, but Encouraged!!!
Dave & Peggy
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