Marriages & Weddings: 16th Century

A contract sealed with a kiss

Marriage

In the 16th century, weddings and marriages were sacred ceremonies to unite men and women in a religious ties. With parental permission, boys are legal to marry at 14, girls at 12, though it is not recommended so early. One comes of age at 21. Non-noble men were most likely to get married at the age of 25-26, and non-noble women at 23. Nobles married at much younger ages. Commonly, marriages were arranged keeping in mind the financial and bloodline benefits. Non-nobles typically married their children to children of their neighbors or family friends. Women received great benefits by having someone to provide for them while men had someone to be the mother of their children. Noble marriages were much more planned to assure gain in power from other wealthy families. The lower one was on the social class scale, the more likely they were to have a say in their marriage.
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Weddings and Traditions

Before the wedding, betrothal was a process in which the man gave the women a ring to be worn on her right hand; the ring would then be transitioned to her left hand at the wedding. Betrothals can be broken by mutual consent. A marriage contract includes provision both for the bride's dowry and for a jointure, or settlement, in cash and property by the husband's family, which guarantees her welfare should her husband die first. The contract is then sealed with a kiss and signature. It is good luck to have the wedding before noon. A bride was not expected to wear a white dress but instead the current cut and fashionable color. Depending on the bride's class, she might have a new gown made or wear her best clothes adorned with ribbons and flowers. Any bridesmaids helped the bride prepare and attended to the bride's needs.
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