Many hundreds of years ago if a man decided who he wished to marry but he did not have the approval of her Father then he would try and kidnap her. This ‘tradition’ allegedly has its roots with the Germanic Goths. Their custom was to marry someone from their own community but when the girls were lacking in numbers the men would try and kidnap someone from a neighbouring village or town. This task was not easily carried out by just one man so the batchelor would bring along someone to help him - the best man for the job.
When kidnapping a bride they would sweep her up and carry her off and this led to the tradition of a bride being carried across the threshold of the couple’s new home.
The ‘Best Man’ would then have to stay with the groom during the ceremony keeping a watchful eye out for the girl’s family in case they tried to get her back. He would then be required to stand on guard duty outside their new home.
There are records that document that arsenals of weapons would be hidden under the altars of churches to be used should the girl’s family come armed to recapture her.
Throughout the marriage ceremony, and on leaving the church, the bride stands and walks on the left of the groom. A groom would place his captured bride to his left so that he had his right hand free to defend and protect her.
Thankfully the task of a Best Man is not so dangerous nowadays and all he has to do is make sure the groom gets to the ceremony in time and look after the rings.
by Jacqui Dunster