The Best Man And His Sword
The origin of the best man as an integral part of wedding proceedings is in interesting one.
The tradition is thought to be Germanic Goth and stem from a time where people were expected to take a bride from within the community.
With an inadequate supply of local women, eligible bachelors were forced to seek out and capture a bride from a neighboring community.
As you can imagine, your average wedding was steeped with the threat of violence if the bride’s family or alternative suiter arrived at the ceremony to take vengeance.
For this reason the groom would bring his strongest, most capable swordsman friend. The word ‘Best’ refers to his skill with a sword.
It was the best man’s duty to stand guard next to the groom, right up to and including the exchange of vows just in case he was needed for battle.
He would also be required in case the bride decided to run away.
In fact, in some early traditions, the groomsmen were called ‘Bride’s Knights’. It was their job to help protect her and her dowry, and to ensure her virginity was maintained.
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Another reason she would require protection was due to the aforementioned kidnappings. Very often the ‘Bride’s Knight’ would have assisted in the kidnapping and would need to stand guard over her, in case her avengers decided to attack.
So if you are about to be a best man, consider yourself lucky that you only have the speech to worry about. The days of brandishing a sword in the protection of the happy couple is long since passed.