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This chapter covers the period of time from the start of the reading of the banns until the wedding ceremony. During that time, some practices took and take place, such as those observed with the publishing of the banns, along with the preliminaries for the wedding: the stag night/hen party, choosing the padrinos or wedding sponsors, sending out the invitations, and the offering of and receiving presents.

Requirements to get married

In the past, it was usual for the priest to question the couple who were planning to marry to establish their knowledge of Christian doctrine. That test generally consisted of several questions on the Catechism and the couple would be asked to recite some of the best known prayers that they had learnt at school and in catechesis. The couple would go to the home of the parish priest or to the sacristy of the church. The priest would also give a talk on the meaning of marriage.

Another important condition was obtaining dispensation in the cases when there was an impediment.

The marriage impediments in the old Canon Law Code (1917) were of two types: diriment impediments that invalidated the marriage and impediments that made it illicit but valid.

Banns. deiuneak

The banns basically consist of publicly announcing the intention of a couple to marry so that anybody who wants to make a justified objection or knows of any impediment for the marriage to be held can make it known.

Publication of the banns

Traditionally, the marriage was announced by the priest aloud during High Mass on three consecutive Sundays prior to the day of the wedding or on two if there were a feast day between.

Once the date of the wedding was set, the mother usually visited the priest to arrange when to begin to read the bans.

In some locations, the bride- and groom-to-be did not go to church when the banns were made public to avoid harassment by the neighbours and not to be embarrassed.

Down through the years, the custom of announcing the banns from the pulpit fell into disuse and they are currently published in writing on the parish notice board or on the entrance to the church.

Stag night/hen party

In the case of the groom, the stag night was held in a bar or restaurant with a lunch or dinner with his friends, while the women celebrated it with a tea party, usually in the home of the bride.

Celebration in the past

This event was usually linked in the past with the reading of the banns and was usually held during that period on the day of the first, second or third bann depending on the location. The choice of the date of the stag night/hen party is now wider.

Padrinos or wedding sponsors

Choice of the wedding sponsors

The prevalence of siblings or friends as wedding sponsors, that is, young people, was clear in the past. The custom did not yet exist of the parents of the bride and groom to playing those roles as it seems that was not the case until later. It should be noted that in the past, at least in some areas, only a few people attended the ceremony and were mainly made up of the group of youths.

The trend is now for father of the bride and the mother of the groom to be the wedding sponsors. Siblings take over when one of the parents who should be the wedding sponsor cannot do so due to ill health, another circumstance or because they are deceased.

Wedding invitations

Sending out the invitations

The choice of the people who are going to attend the wedding ceremony and the reception has usually been, and is still, carried out by the couple and their partners. In the past, the parents usually decided who would attend. The couple also took part in that decision.

In the past, the invitations were made in person and the couple, their parents or the person tasked with announcing the date and time of the event would go to the homes of the people to be invited. Down through the years, the custom was introduced of getting an invitation with all the necessary info printed to be sent out by post, even though the couple continue to hand it personally to the guests.

In recent decades, the most common invitation includes the names of the bride and groom, of their parents, the day, place and time of the ceremony and the reception venue. The invitation is issued in the name of the parents of the couple and the guests are usually asked to confirm their attendance in order to know the number of diners beforehand.

Wedding gifts

Gifts between the bride and groom

In villages or small towns or in areas with a scattered population, it was common sometime before the wedding for the bride and groom, accompanied by a relative, to travel to a nearby large town to order the wedding clothes, buy some special garments or jewellery and gifts to look good in the wedding ceremony. This custom also existed in larger towns or in the charter towns, in which case the better off travelled to the provincial capital for that purpose.

The offering of gifts was usually reciprocal between the bride and groom and the most common presents consisted of clothing, jewels and personal adornments.

The nature and importance of those gifts varied depending on the economic position of the families of the couple.

Gifts from the guests

Both in the past and in the present, wedding gifts are given by the family unit and not by each of the guests that make it up. There is a certain correspondence between the gifts particularly in the case of near relatives: good presents are given to the couple of those families from whom important gifts had in turn been received. The guests that are not unable to attend the wedding also give gifts, although they are not usually as good as when they go to the reception. The amount of presents that the couple receive and their importance has changed notably during this century.