February 9, 2010
In ancient Rome, marriages are usually based on social status of a person and not by
their love. The bride’s father would pick a desirable husband and would arrange everything
from then on, including the dowry. It is said that young women are unloved by their parents
until they are married.
The bride usually marries at the age of 14. The future husband and wife will hold hands
in public to show that the wife has agreed to wed with the man. The future bride will also have
to chant “Quando tu Gaius, ego Gaia.” Which means, “When-and-where-you are Gaius, I then-
and-there-am Gaia.” This is said because of the lucky meaning of the name.
The day options of the marriage are very limited. June is a very favorable month. The
Romans do this to prevent bad omens. Months like February and May were forbidden to wed
The night before the wedding, the bride has to give her bulla or her birth locket to her
father or to the lares. If she is a young woman, she would also give up all her toys. She then
tries on her wedding dress.
The Romans wore their engagement rings on the third finger on the left hand because
the Romans believed that the nerve of the third finger connects to the heart.
The day of her wedding, the mother of the bride will dress her daughter. The wedding
dress is usually a straight tunic long enough to end at her feet. A belt would be tied around her
waist, which is only untied by her husband. She would wear bright yellow shoes.
Her hair will be divided into six locks. It is coiled into cone shapes held by fillets or
ribbons. The hairstyle is called tutulus. It is prepared with a hasta recurva or a bend iron spear.
This, Romans believed is to drive out all the evil spirits living in the woman’s hair.
Over her head, would be a flame colored veil, which is topped with a wreath of flowers
which she has gathered. The veil was oblong and transparent, leaving her face uncovered. She
will be accompanied by a bridesmaid.
The groom would wear a toga, and a wreath of flowers similar to what the bride is
The wedding ceremony was held in the father of the bride’s house. Guests would be
invited and they will need at least ten witnesses to make it legal. The bride and the groom
would hold hands as a priest would wed them. They would sit in stools facing the altar as an
offering to Jupiter was being made. The offering was usually cake, which will be eaten by the
bride and groom after the offering was done.
After the ceremony, there will be a dinner either in the bride or the groom’s house. The
dinner would end with the passing of cake.
After the dinner, the bride will be escorted to the husband’s house. Anyone would join
the procession. Walnuts would be thrown to them because they all hoped for fertility for her.
The woman would hold three coins; the first was to offer to the gods of the crossroads. The
second coin was to give to her husband, and the third was for the lares of her husband’s house.
The husband would throw nuts, sweetmeats and sesame cakes in the crowd. The mother would
hold the daughter’s hand as the groom would pretend to take his wife from her mother’s hands
Once they reach the front door, the bride will say “Quando tu Gaius, ego Gaia” once
more. She would cover the doorposts with wool to show the future works she is to do as the
mistress of her new home. She would also put oil and fat on the door to show anointment.
She will be carried by her husband inside the house to avoid her slipping as she entered
the house for the first time which is a bad omen. The doors will then be closed to the crowd,
though the guests would be invited inside.
Once they enter the house, the bride would light up the wood set up in the fireplace
with her marriage torch, which was carried in front of her. It would be blown out and thrown
into the guests who run to catch it.
Divorce, back in the Roman era was unknown.
The Roman marriage ceremonies are very much alike to the contemporary weddings.
The torch is like the flower bouquet, the reception after the ceremony and the thrown nuts
which we now throw rice.
"Ancient Roman Family and Marriages." Ancient Roman Family and Marriage. Web. 6 Feb.
"Ancient Weddings." Classics Technology Center. Web. 6 Feb. 2010.
"Marriage and Customs and Roman Women." Web. 6 Feb. 2010.
"Roman Weddings." UNRV. Web. 6 Feb. 2010. <http://www.unrv.com/culture/roman-