Ancients went by the clock, cock and hock -- just don't tie the knot before June! May was the month for getting bathed. The snows had melted by then.

A big tub of water stood wherever there was spare space and Daddy was the first to bathe. Brings home the bacon, needs to be pampered. Then his wife, their children, their relatives and if there was no rub about the tub, neighbors had a pash to splash. Whence cometh the phrase--"Don't throw the baby out with the bath water?" By the time baby's turn came, the water was so dingy and dirty, a baby could disappear in the time it took to toss out the water.
The ceremony is one of the last surviving rites from the Romans. The bridegroom didn't know his left from his rite. He was kept completely in the dark. The bride's family boned up on history and kept the rite a mystery.

In those days there was magic in the air - both good and tragic. If an engagement ring was lost or stolen, there would be no marriage. Families in May were devoted to their dead relatives and it was no time for a bride to carry a bouquet. Flowers didn't bloom until June, hence the phrase, "What is so rare as a day in June?"

May was considered unlucky for lovers. The bride must not be seen by the groom in her wedding dress nor must she look in the glass because it was considered dangerous to project her married look into the mirror. Once they do that, they can pick up their gloves. If the groom should see his bride before their vows, more bad luck. So the veil is a relic of the seclusion in which the prospective bride was kept.

It had a secondary reason: to keep the bride from the dangers of the Evil Eye of jealous rivals and spinsters. There was a saying, "marry in red, you'll be dead," which referred to the scarlet woman in the Bible. White represented purity. The working girl who inserts the first stitch in the wedding dress can expect to be married herself before the year is out.

A gold wedding ring, a circle symbolizing the unity of the bond of matrimony, must never be removed for if it is lost or broken the marriage will suffer similarly.

Flowers at the ceremony represent fertility; in particular, orange blossoms brought by Crusaders from the Near East, which were used for centuries as love charms and provided magic against barrenness. Eating wedding cake carried the luck of the bride. Confetti, a substitute for rice and sweet meats of an earlier period, is an emblem of fruitfulness.

Honeymoon came to be as honey was an aphrodisiac and in northern Europe the wedding guests drank honey for a whole moon (or month) following the ceremony. Carrying the bride over the doorstep into her new home originated with the necessity of avoiding the threatening evil spirits that gathered outside every threshold. Romans dedicated to Vesta the Goddess of Virginity -- she was soon to lose her virginity to profane with her touch the threshold.

If you were writing your own wedding ceremony, the scripts of yesteryear would contain violence because everything you vow today had its birth in paganism. Tender is the rite, compared to early times.