When it comes to the favorite month to get married, June is the reigning king (or perhaps I should say “queen”). The term “June Bride” has become as much a part of our lexicon as terms like the Easter Bunny, March Madness, or January White Sales. Movies, television, and ads in slick magazines and online websites celebrate the June bride, as well as raking in the lion share of the 72 billion dollars spent on weddings in the United States alone.
I admit I too was once a June bride. I picked June for my wedding because I’d graduated school in May. June weather was generally good, friends and relatives had more time off and thus, could attend, and frankly, I too had bought into the “June Bride” fairy tale that somehow any other month was a distant second at best. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that the historical reasons for getting married in June had more to do with hygiene and crop harvesting than romance. (Spoiler Alert: if you want to keep any romanticized notion of June weddings, don’t read any more of this post.)
The history of June weddings goes back several thousand years to the early Romans. On the first day in June each year, Romans celebrated a festival to honor their deity Juno, the wife of Jupiter and the goddess of marriage and childbirth. So it would seem natural that Roman brides would want to marry in June in hopes of receiving special blessings from Juno. However, there were more practical reasons to pick June for tying the marital knot.
After a long winter, the communities of the 1400-1500’s would come out in May and take their cleansing bath (for some it was their only bath for the year). So it stands to reason that couples would want to marry in June while everyone still smelled good. Also, flowers were blooming and their fragrance helped make June weddings sweeter aromatic celebrations. After all, these were pre-Fabreze times.
Another sensible reason for choosing to be a June bride is that couples who married in June often gave birth to their first child the following spring, which increased the child’s chances of survival. This also gave the new mothers time to recover so they could help with the fall harvest.
Until modern times, weddings were more often than not a business contract between the father of the bride and the groom’s family. Neither the groom nor the bride had much to say in the matter. Remember that in times past, a young woman was considered to be her fathers’ property and he “gave away the bride” to the groom’s family. Thank goodness this is only a symbolic gesture today.
Reading about the history of the June bride makes me happy that I was born in the twentieth century in a country where women have made great strides in autonomy and independence, although we still have miles to travel. Brides getting married in June or any other month are certainly more fortunate than their predecessors of olden days in that today’s brides have the freedom to pick their own road and their own husband.
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