As professionals that live to make peoples’ dream weddings a reality, we’ve found ourselves being a bit curious as of late. We use the word Wedding every single day, but where does the word come from? Does it have a history in other languages? There’s actually an entire field of academia dedicated to answering those kinds of questions –it’s called Etymology.
Well, it just so happens we’re not just venue hosts and wedding experts. We’re also masters of language! Let’s just consult our resident Senior Head of Etymology Studies and by that we mean the trusty, infallible Online Etymology Dictionary (thank God for the internet).
The Old English “Wedding” starts off pretty straightforward: “State of being wed; pledge, betrothal; action of marrying.” Okay, we don’t think anyone’s surprised by that. It’s how we use the word today. But we were surprised to learn the usual Old English name for the ceremony was “Bridalope.” Which means the nuptials were the “bridal run” –the running or journey of the bride to her new home. Even though the name of the ceremony has changed, we still use the term today when people elope –run away for their secret wedding.
It gets more interesting (and a bit cynical) when we find out where wedding historically intersects with other languages. The term has roots with Old Norse and Danish words veðja and vedde (think “wed”), which is to make a bet or a wager. This makes sense when you consider that weddings were more a matter of politics and business for much of history. Even the modern German word Wette means to make a bet or a wager, and it crosses with English as to mean a pledge or vow. Thankfully, the pledge part of the meaning has taken over today, and the wager stuff has been left in the dust.
So wedding is in every sense a perfect word to describe the totality of getting married –it encompasses the name of the ceremony, the act of getting married and even the vows you take. We hope you’ve enjoyed our little digression into history. Let it never be said that we aren’t committed to making sure you’ll be able to impress family and friends around the reception table with little-known facts.