Marriage Surprises

Did you know the following six facts?

For centuries, marriage was considered a means for improving your wealth or status. A well-chosen marriage could preserve your power, gain you land and produce heirs for you. Love had nothing to do with it (until around the 17th century). In fact, love was often seen as an obstacle to an “advantageous” marriage. It only became at all common for people to marry for love from the late 18th century. That was because, after the Industrial Revolution, people could earn enough money to afford to go against their parents’ choice of spouse.

The first known marriages (as in documented events) date back to around 2,000 BC, in Mesopotamia (modern-day Iraq).

Wearing a white dress on your wedding day only became popular in the West in the mid-1800s, after Queen Victoria wore white to marry Prince Albert. This tradition is not universal, however, as it is common for the bride to wear red in countries such as India and China, as that is considered to be a lucky colour.

Some 5,000 weddings a year take place in Gretna Green. This is a Scottish village, just over the border from England, which became popular for runaway weddings after a 1753 Act made marriage in England and Wales more regulated. Consequently, people started to go north, where the rules were much freer. Nowadays, Gretna Green is more of a romantic notion, but still highly popular.

The longest marriage on record is that between Daniel and Susan Bakeman, who were married in New York City in 1772, and stayed together over 91 years.

Apparently, more than a third of marriages these days begin online. Studies suggest that online couples tend to have longer, arguably happier, marriages.

Who’d have thought it?

Michael Gordon can help prepare and conduct a tailor-made civil ceremony in or around London or, indeed, in Europe.

Gay Weddings and Tradition

I’m straight and have been raised pretty conventionally. I think I’m reasonably open-minded, and have a couple of openly gay friends. However, I have to say that I used to be uncomfortable with open displays of affection between gays and have not so far attended any gay weddings.

I recently began to reassess my viewpoint. I even accepted that gays might have feelings and want – and need – relationships.

Seeing pictures of Elton John and David Furnish’s wedding a few years back was quite reassuring to me. I don’t know what I might have been expecting, but the couple was extremely well turned-out – beautifully dressed in fact. They obviously took their ceremony really seriously (and why shouldn’t they?).

Indeed, why should a gay wedding be drastically different to a traditional, heterosexual one? There’s no reason why women should not be in white, and carrying bouquets of lilies. Men can certainly be in suits. The wedding day is the most important day of their lives, and they are entitled to choose to mark it by looking their very best. The affair can be elegant and tasteful – and should be, in fact.

Gay marriage is legal in many States of the US and will become commonplace over in the UK too in time, so we need to become more comfortable with the concept.


In a ‘traditional’ gay wedding, there are some questions to consider: should there be bridesmaids – or even whatever the masculine equivalent is? Or a combination of them?

What about surnames? Should either of the pair change their name after marriage? If so, which one? Presumably, that will be down to choice.

There may be some decisions for the officiant: instead of “you may kiss the bride”, the easiest thing would simply be “you may kiss”.

Of course, there’s not really a precedent for gay marriages, so the traditions are up for grabs. But do we need to invent any, actually?


Michael Gordon can help prepare and conduct a tailor-made civil ceremony in or around London or, indeed, in Europe.