As the origin of a lot of our traditions today, it can come as no surprise that the Ancient Romans did a lot for weddings. Bridesmaids, rings, and of course feasts! They did it all.
If you are a history buff, have a Roman wedding venue nearby, or have a penchant for togas, maybe you should could consider a Roman themed wedding?
Now it may seem a little extreme to go out of your way to robe your entire wedding party in Roman garb, but you can certainly pick and choose your inspiration!
The History Lesson
The Romans were one of the most powerful, influential classical empires, existing from 750 BC until almost 450 AD. This great civilisation originated in the city of Rome, and its dominant period influenced many aspects of our modern society. From architecture and town planning to politics, religion, language, and even sanitation, the Romans gave a lot to the modern world.
Customs like having bridesmaids originated from this era, only the reasoning is a little darker than expected. Bridesmaids were often servants of the bride who would wait hand and foot on her. They surrounded the bride and wore similar dresses to her in an attempt to thwart evil spirits. Some even had to fight ex-suitors, or at least confuse him for long enough for him to realise he’d got the wrong woman. The same reasoning goes for the existence of veils, although this also has to do with arranged marriages.
Moreover, the groom would have to cross the threshold with his new wife. When he picked her up to carry her inside, it was said to be exceptionally bad luck for the marriage. This, and many other traditions and superstitions, come from Roman times.
Get the Theme Started!
What do you think of when you think Roman? It might be togas and sandals, or laurel wreaths, centurions and charging into battle. Perhaps it’s marble, sculpture and colossal buildings, or else wine, olives and bread.
However you think of the Romans, this would be a great way to start your wedding theme. This was a race with a very strong cultural identity. There are plenty of elements you can take from the Roman way of dressing, their culture, food and aesthetic appeal!
Set the Scene
Unless you plan on travelling to Rome to tie the knot, it might be very difficult to find somewhere to get married that fits the theme. Think outside the box and, probably, outside. With Mediterranean weather as it is, pray for sunshine and arrange for your wedding al fresco. Perhaps you can set the scene like an ancient battle, or else an amphitheatre.
Legally, you cannot currently marry outdoors in England and Wales, so you might have to visit a registry office for your ceremony. Or, consider something entirely different.
Do you have a nearby museum with a trove of Roman artefacts? Maybe you live near Bath and could hire the magnificent and historical Roman Baths. Otherwise, use your imagination to turn your chosen venue into your Roman dream.
Think of marbled pillars and Mediterranean foliage. It would make quite an impact at the entrance or periphery of your venue. Columns cut in a traditional Roman shape could be bought, or made with reasonable ease. You could even find models of Roman gods to sit at the centre of each of your tables.
Don’t forget the flora. Olive, lemon and orange trees are all staples of Rome and Italy. Whilst it may be difficult to plant them in your venue, you could accessorize with olives, grapes and citrus fruits. You could also find a decorative tree in a pot or pile fruit on tables.
Use plenty of gold colour to bring that feeling of Roman opulence. Pair it with a rich purple to feel like royalty, or crimson to feel like a centurion. An Egyptian blue colour could also look fantastic as it will contrast with the food.
An Italian-inspired menu would be a great path to go down when it comes to catering at your wedding. If you are looking to get DIY wedding ideas for a Roman wedding theme buffet, then the traditional reclining banquets of the Roman Empire would be perfect for you!
The Roman diet consisted of a simple and healthy selection of foods, such as bread, fish, salad, fruits, cheese, nuts and cold meat. All of these ingredients are readily available nowadays at relatively cheap prices. Try to find authentic Italian varieties of the foods listed above for a real taste of the old empire!
You absolutely must serve wine, ideally from decanters or carafes into goblets for added effect. Olives and bread are a must for tables. In fact, did you know that traditional Roman wedding cakes were most likely actually bread? Wheat was a symbol of fertility and so many guests brought loaves to the newlyweds – then fought over the crumbs.
What to Wear
If the thought of wearing a tunic or helmet at your wedding ceremony is too much, consider getting into costume a little further into the wedding day. The reception is the perfect time to let your hair down, celebrate being together, and not worry about the solemn, legal side.
Full legionary military uniform and armour would be interesting, but probably rather heavy and uncomfortable. Togas or tunics would be more acceptable, and infinitely more budget friendly! This goes for guests of any gender, as the toga was a neutral garb.
If you don’t want to confine your guests to purchasing some fancy dress they may never wear again, consider buying prop helmets and tunics. Offer a dressing up box at the door so that guests can join in even if they haven’t pre-prepared. It may be an extra expense for you, but the effect is sure to be phenomenal.
On your feet, wear sandals. You can find some fantastic footwear nowadays that combines a high heel with gladiator straps, and similar is available for men. Plenty of jewellery would complete a look nicely.
The most authentic form of live music you could have at your wedding would be a lute. Of course, players of this instrument are hard to come by! Instead, find someone who can play the harp. This is the instrument most closely associated with all the fineries and classical nuances of antiquity.
The theatre of ancient Rome is thought to have heavily influenced thespian practices to this day. For some authentic Roman theatre, bring in some professional actors to perform excerpts from Julius Caesar! Furthermore, find a jester – or just a comedian who might be willing to dress up.
If you are looking to have a Roman wedding theme, then you could take on board a few of the points outlined above. But do remember; these should merely serve as inspiration. Don’t let your theme dictate your big day!