An urban legend circulated at work yesterday - "The Groom's/Bride's Revenge," which comes in numerous iterations, and involves one of the prospective couple publicly exposing the other for sleeping with some other member of the wedding party, and calling off the wedding. This version was a particularly good one, with Clemson University and Jay Leno thrown in as convincing details, and a nice dramatic build involving compromising photographs of the offending bride and best man taped underneath the guests' seats at the reception. We like the horror of stories like this. We use these legends as previous generations used folk tales to teach which values are important. "If you do this bad thing, you will deserve this humiliating punishment" is the underlying message to many urban legends.
Printing up the disproof of the legend from snopes, I browsed through the many other wedding legends and customs. Nice to have the State of NH pay me for fifteen minutes of entertainment like that. Fascinating stuff, those wedding legends. The custom of brides wearing white did not originate to advertise purity, but ostentatious display in class-conscious Victorian times. A white dress is clearly a one-use only item, so families would put their daughters in these elaborate displays to highlight their ability to waste wealth. The dresses leading up to the white gowns were increasingly elaborate, not increasingly light-colored. White has generally been used to signify joy. Practically every other wedding custom seems to be about sex, but not this one. Threshold...garter...feeding cake...veil...they're all about sex. Big surprise, eh?
Weddings are in the air around here; not in the immediate family, but among important members of the close circle. These include commenters Erin and Bethany, as well as blog-unaffiliated Lauren, all marrying this year. I think they will find the wedding legends amusing. And don't sleep with the best men, because I probably know them too, and that would be annoying to me.