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  Having a Medieval/Renaissance Wedding:
and updating it for modern times

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By Rachel Broderick

If you are having your wedding in a hall that is modern, the Medieval wedding will be more difficult to accomplish, but can still be improvised. In this case, decorate the space with plenty of ivy (the traditional wedding plant of the era--seems you can never have too much of it), black iron candleabras and scrolls, banners of family crests, large baskets of flowers, and flowered garlands on wooden and/or iron poles (for more info on flowers, see below). Big, chunky wooden candle holders are also appropriate and add the requisite flavor to the scene.

Design for the reception is similar. There are tons of places around the world that are appropriate for this type of wedding. Most popular is an old castle or castle-looking building that is now or can now be used as a party location. Even in the U.S. there are such places in most areas. (Of course, not all of them have the same level of authenticity as in, say, Scotland--but we Americans are used to that being the case, unfortunately or not!)

Most of these places are used to holding Medieval weddings, and know how to accommodate such a request. They may even offer advice on choices like decor, food, and music, and recommend persons and businesses in the area that offer appropriate services.

One last option--and it’s a good one--is to get married at a local or regional Renaissance Fair. In the United States, there’s such a fair in nearly every state or even counties, and it’s becoming more and more common to see weddings taking place at them. There’s usually a hospitality coordinator or other such person in charge of arranging such an event, and then, in essence, all of the hard work is being done for you. Often, the bridal party just shows up, and the fair takes care of the rest. The feasibility of this option, however, depends on both the size of the fair and the size of the wedding (it’s much easier to do this if you’re having a smaller wedding).


If you are a bride-to-be and are going to have a Medieval wedding, immediately let go of the notion of a white dress. Brides in the Middle Ages wore dark and regal velvet dresses in such colors as hunter green, burgundy wine, or deep purple. Often these dresses were laced up the sides and/or back, had long, pleated skirts, and were floor-length and long-sleeved. They were also usually relatively (tastefully) low-cut. A metallic (gold or silver) braided ribbon often ran throughout the design. The torso of the dress often was cut like coat, hence the dress being called a "cotehardie," or, literally, "bold coat."

Brides today who want a Medieval or Renaissance-style wedding often stick to such a dress for both themselves and their bridesmaids. Hair is worn long and flowing, with loose curls, braids, or roles. In lieu of a veil, it is suggested that brides wear a wreath of ivy, herbs, and flowers, possibly with ribbons attached and hanging loose over the back of her head.
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