Tuesday, August 31, 2010

You May Now Kiss The Bride

I've attended my share of weddings. Each emphasized different colors or themes or music or vows, but all shared one phrase: "You may now kiss the/your bride." Have you ever wondered about the origin of this particular famous sentence? Well, curious or not, I'll share my findings. Like many aspects of American speech (how very encyclopedia, no?), this phrase dates back to Roman rule when many contracts were sealed with a kiss. This particular kiss, however, served a dual purpose. First, it allowed the groom to see if his bride had been sampling the wine. Yes, really. Second, this kiss proved to the witnesses present the couple's faith in one another. Apparently, it was something like a romantic twist on a business handshake. I find this fascinating.

The best part of looking into this matter proved to be the great offense some take to the gender specific role of kiss initiation. It seems many women are offended by the notion their new husband is the one called upon to make the first move in this public display of affection. There are blog-style forums about it. I'm afraid many of the arguments lost their potency in a slough of ridiculous sentences. "Where did all these traditional lines come from anyway... did someone make them up a hundred years ago or something?" Insightful. Better yet: "...we wait to hear 'I now prononuce you man and wife (hysterically sexist!)' and 'you may kiss the bride'. I think that the origins are insulting but anymore it's so second nature that it's silly and almost sentimentally sweet!!" Ah, yes. Nothing like sticking to your principles in all matters save those which leave you feeling warm and Snuggie-fuzzy. Oh, we're a non-committal bunch, aren't we?

Personally, I like the idea of a strapping young man sweeping me off my feet in front of a room-full. I no more want to do the sweeping than I want to buy the ring.

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