Wedding bands and traditions
It has become a tradition to exchange wedding bands to seal a marriage. In Scandinavia, the tradition can be traced back to the 1300s, when people began to exchange rings as a sign that there was an agreement to marry. Today it is quite common for the bride and groom to exchange rings. The traditional wedding band is a smooth ring with the spouse’s name engraved inside. For many years, it was common for the bride and groom’s rings to be identical. The ring’s unbroken band symbolises the eternal fidelity that the bride and groom promise each other.
In recent years, it has become common for the bride’s ring to differ from the groom’s by being adorned with one or more precious stones. These stones are often diamonds, as they symbolise innocence and fidelity. The rings are often crafted in white or yellow gold, but it is also possible to have wedding bands made of rose gold or platinum, for example. The bands are usually crafted in 14k or 18k gold. Karat indicates the percentage of gold in the piece. 24k gold is pure gold. 18k gold consists of 75% pure gold and 25% alloy.
The best man and bridesmaids
Arranging a wedding is a major undertaking, which is why many bridal couples have close friends and relatives help with the planning. For the groom it is the best man, while for the bride it is a maid of honour and a bridesmaid, or perhaps several bridesmaids. It is often the couple’s best friends that are selected for these tasks. Originally, the best man acted as an official witness to ensure that the couple were legally married. Today, the best man’s role is to stand next to the groom during the ceremony. After the ceremony, the best man changes places with the bride.
It is also the best man’s job to bring the wedding bands and hand them to the bride and groom at the appropriate time. The maid of honour/bridesmaid’s tasks are practical ones. They often help to choose the wedding dress with the bride, and assist during the wedding and subsequent reception to arrange the dress, etc. Where there are several bridesmaids, their role is often signified by identical dresses, just as the best man’s affiliation with the groom is signified by a boutonnière (or buttonhole) identical to the groom’s.