The best man had to be a skillful swordsman in the 16th century. Did you know he had the job of stealing the bride? Correct stealing her from her judgmental family and community, that may have refused the groom. He would stand close to the groom on the wedding day. Holding his breath, as he prepared himself for a fight that might ensue from the angered family. They just kidnapped someone’s daughter surely; her family wasn’t going to stand by and let this happen? In those times the best man’s job did not stop there. He was needed later that evening to stand guard all night outside the bedroom door. Hopefully, he didn’t excessively drink during the festivities! Selecting the perfect guy to be your best man was a very important task in that era.
The bride had her own groomsmen as well, then known as a Bride’s Knights. Their duty was to defend her virginity and dowry. A family’s offered a wedding gift (dowry) payment to a man to wed their daughters. The Bride’s Knights also played a role in her kidnapping if this task was necessary. Today we would call him a double agent. Best men today should feel lucky that his main job is guarding the ring. Oh, I forgot to mention he also plans the bachelor party, in addition to preparing an unforgettable speech. All the while looking handsome in an amazing suit donning a dashing boutonniere. I would say the best man’s job today compared to then is a piece of cake.
The best man and bridesmaid have significant roles today. Best man guardian of the ring. The bridesmaid holding the dreamy bridal bouquet, shadowing her the whole day. What a cinch for them both. In medieval times the debonair boutonniere wearing best man may have had to fight for his life. The beautiful bridesmaid wearing a stunning gown carrying a custom bouquet had her hands full. Forcing the bride to drink and eat ale spiced plum buns. (WHAT?) This was to restore the bride's energy. Did you know it was the bridesmaid who walked the bride to the altar? Imagine them both dressed in a marvelous gown. The bride holding an extraordinary bridal bouquet, her friend carrying an amazing bridesmaid bouquet. Tiptoeing mind you down the altar, because if she stumbled during this walk superstition was that she would never marry. Oh, the pressure!
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