Like in most empire, wedding was considered an extremely important of life in the Roman Empire. In fact, the word ‘matrimony’ comes from their language, which is derived from ‘mater’ in Latin, meaning mother. Since every ruler wanted to avoid discord, they wanted the commoners to get married quickly and settle down. This is why they even set down laws and penalized those men who put off their wedding day by requiring them to pay a monetary fine.

Weddings were also used as political tactics. For example, when Octavian found this relations to be strained with Mark Anthony, he offered his sister’s (Octavia) hand in marriage to Mark, who also wanted to become Caesar’s successor. This was to show a wish for peace. However, even though he married Octavia, his real love was the Queen of Egypt, Cleopatra, and when Mark called for a divorce with Octavia, Octavian immediately declared war on Mark.

However, most Roman weddings were far less dramatic than the one narrated above. A typical Roman wedding was usually characterized by the father of the family arranging the marriage of his children with the children of other families. Many young men, and especially women, did not get to decide who they would wed, even though their formal consent was required. But since they were pressurized in one way or another, they would often succumb to the wished of their elders.

There were certain conditions that had to be met before a wedding could proceed. For example, the minimum age for a bride to be married was twelve, while for a groom it was thirteen. It also had to be made sure that they couple getting married were not close blood relatives, were not slaves, and were not already engaged or married. A soldier could not marry until his service to his legion has ended, though he was allowed to be engaged and see his fiancé.

After the agreement of both families, the announcement was made, and as per tradition, the groom pad to present his to be wife with a gift of jewelry. The bride was supposed to make an offering of all her childhood toys at her family’s altar.

The wedding dress of the bride was usually made of white wool, and kept simple, with a traditional but complex knot tied in the sash that held it up. This is to tease the groom at the night of the consummation of the marriage. The hair of the bride had to be arranged in six locks, three kept on each side. This was done to pay homage to the Vestal Virgins. The bride would also wear a flower garland and a saffron or orange color veil that signified that she wished to remain a partner to her husband till her death. This custom drew inspiration from the priests called Flamen Dialis who belonged to a priesthood, which required them to never divorce. Their wives wore such veils and were known as Flaminica Dialis.

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