Friday, June 10, 2011

June Weddings

My checkbook is still in shock after all of last month’s graduations (from kindergarten through college), and now there are the gifts for June weddings to be bought (four at last count). My family is strictly non-traditional when it comes to wedding months. We celebrate anniversaries in May, August, and October, but, except for extended family members, none in June. So I started wondering about the tradition of June weddings.

A little research taught me that the tradition is an ancient one, perhaps going back to pre-history. The summer solstice occurs in June, and this was a joyous occasion for the ancients. The harshness of winter was over, crops had been planted, food and medicinal herbs were easier to find, and the world was green and beautiful. Also, some ancient people believed that it was unlucky to marry in May because to do so was to compete with the male and female divinities whose “grand union” took place in early May. Moving nearer our own time, a few millennia nearer at least, the Romans celebrated the festival of Juno Monetas on June 1. Juno, goddess of marriage and childbirth, was worshipped in many guises, and as Juno Moneta, she was considered “protectress of funds.”  In all these facets, her festival period, with its attendant blessings, must have seemed an auspicious time for a wedding.

Even the term “honeymoon” is linked to June. The only full moon in June was traditionally called the Honey Moon because it was thought to be the best time to harvest honey from the hive. Honey was also thought to foster love and fertility, and thus newlyweds were given food and drink containing honey to ensure a happy and productive marriage.

In my region, an agrarian culture is not that far in the past. Three sets of my great-grandparents were farmers, and the cycle of planning and harvesting controlled their lives. I imagine that June was less busy for them and their neighbors than most other months, and children conceived in summer months would be born the following spring, increasing their chances of survival after the bleak winter months. Spring births also were less likely to interfere with the harvest in the fall. Also, travel would have been easier in the summer—for wedding guests and for the bridal couple’s wedding trip.

The phrase “June Bride” always evokes for me an image of the six brides-to-be in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954) singing the Johnny Mercer (a Georgia native, by the way) song by that title.

LIZA (Virginia Gibson)
Oh, they say when you marry in June,
You're a bride all your life.
SARAH (Betty Carr)
And the bridegroom who marries in June
Gets a sweetheart for a wife.
RUTH (Ruta Lee)
Winter weddings can be gay
Like a Christmas holiday.
MARTHA (Norma Doggett)
But the June bride hears the song
Of the spring that lasts all summer long.
DORCAS (Julie Newmar)
By the light of the silvery moon
Home you ride, side by side
With the echo of Mendelssohn's tune
                                                          LIZA, SARAH & ALICE (Nancy Kilgas)
                                                        In your hearts as you ride.
                                                           ALL BRIDES
                                                       For they say when you marry in June,
                                      You will always be a bride.

I saw that movie first at an impressionable age. All those images of melting snow, flowers blooming, moonlight, a springtime baby,  and the shotgun wedding with six delighted couples . . . I loved it then, and it’s still a favorite oldie.
I’ve only written one wedding scene so far, and it takes place at Christmas, which seemed a lovely time for a wedding to me.

Maybe, in other times, there were reasons, practical and romantic, for marrying in June. But what about 2011? Why are so many brides and grooms still choosing June weddings?

When did your favorite weddings in life and in fiction take place?


Anonymous said...

This is such great info, and I love how romantic notions are grounded in practicality. :)

I'd read somewhere that September is a more popular time for weddings now, mainly because it's not as HOT as June can be. It kinda makes sense, esp. if the church doesn't have air conditioning. LOL


irisheyes said...

Love all the fun info!

I always wanted to be married in June (or rather the summer months) just due to the weather. I LOVE summer - lots of great memories all wrapped up with that season and it just seemed getting married then would be perfect!

I love the reasons behind why brides pick their wedding date. It's fun trivia. I have 2 friends that got married in the dead of winter with tons of snow on the ground. To me that would have been a nightmare - to them it was exactly what they wanted!

I got married May 30th - it was a Sunday and was cheaper to get the hall and all our relatives were off on Monday (Memorial Day), so flying in from out of town was a little easier. And as it turned out I didn't get my awesome sunny summer day - it rained. I had fun anyway!

Janga said...

Thanks, Donna. I'm gasping at the thought of churches without air conditioning, although I can remember in my dim, distant youth my church wasn't air conditioned and all the ladies waved their funeral parlor fans in accompaniment to the preacher's sermon.

Down here it was still pretty warm for those October weddings I mentioned, so I don't know if September would be much cooler than June for a Georgia wedding.

Janga said...

Irish, you almost-June bride, I bet your rain-blessed wedding was wonderful. I've always thought rain romantic--probably a holdover from my undergrad years when I loved walking in the rain with the love of my life. Now that should inspire a great scene in a book. :)

Maggie Robinson/Margaret Rowe said...

Two of my girls married in late September, outdoors & the weather was unbelievably perfect. I got married in January because my husband, a college student at the time, had a break between semesters.Cannot rec January weddings altho it has lasted, LOL. I'm going to an August wedding, and recently found out I may even be hosting a wedding right on my new dock this summer if that's what the bride and groom decide. I'm excited!

Janga said...

Maggie, The wedding on your new dock sounds lovely! Some of the most romantic, most memorable weddings I've attended have been outside. Two last summer--one a garden wedding and one a country wedding in a meadow--were gorgeous. I hope your bride and groom have a wonderful August day for their wedding.

quantum said...

At the (July) wedding of a childhood sweetheart,I had some sympathy with William Thackeray when he wrote 'AT THE CHURCH GATE'

I soon changed on meeting Mrs Q though! *grin*

Although I enter not,
Yet round about the spot
Oft-times I hover:
And near the sacred gate,
With longing eyes I wait,
Expectant of her.

The Minister bell tolls out
Above the city's rout,
And noise and humming:
They've hushed the Minster bell;
The organ 'gins to swell:
She's coming, she's coming!

My lady comes at last,
Timid and stepping fast,
And hastening hither,
With modest eyes downcast:
She comes - she's here - she's past:
May heaven go with her!

Kneel undisturbed, fair saint!
Pour out your praise or plaint
Meekly and duly;
I will not enter there
To sully your prayer
With thoughts unruly.

But suffer me to pace
Round the forbidden place,
Lingering a minute
Like outcast spirits who wait
And see through heaven's gate
Angels within it

Janga said...

Thanks for sharing the Thackeray poem, Q. I thibk you and Mrs. Q were both blessed that you moved from wedding observer to co-star of the event.

And I think July is a good month for celebrations. :)