This thesis investigates and analyses the wedding ceremony in western society. The white wedding ceremony developed within Christian religious doctrine and although charged with certain symbolic meanings and traditions has not remained static but has evolved and changed to reflect contemporary lifestyles. The wedding ceremony has always been an indicator of ideals and aspirations at every social level and this work focuses on the sublime ceremonial as well as the evolving nature of marriage.
Couples historically married to cement dynasties and to ensure passage of lands and wealth and their marriages were arranged but once couples could marry partners of their choice and love liaisons became normal then the ceremony provided an ideal opportunity for festive exhibition and theatrical excess. Wedding pageantry has readily adapted to encompass recent celebrity culture that has pervaded modern societies. Modern craving for instant acclaim has been promoted by profiteering industries and businesses dedicated to providing the dream wedding within any budget. This thesis argues that the nature of marriage has changed from a life-long heterosexual legal committment to one person to a relationship that anticipates some degree of separateness and autonomy within a heterosexual or same sex association. The ceremony itself has evolved to accommodate changing ideals and expectations of first marriages and to provide opportunity for couples to remarry within the dictates of contemporary fashion. The wedding ceremony remains a significant and symbolic occassion because it has adapted and changed to accommodate contemporary tastes, styles, standards and edicts and because of this it will survive.
A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.
Images have been removed for copyright purposes. Images are included in a closed-access version of the thesis which may be consulted under supervision in the library. An appointment is required to consult this version.