The ritual actions of the father handing the daughter to the husband, expressed in the Latin phrase tradere filiam suam (to hand over his daughter), and of the husband taking the woman into his house, uxorem ducere (to lead a woman), were the essence of the ceremony.
Like the many gifts exchanged before and after the ceremony, the bride herself was an object handed from one owner to another.
The potential bride being wooed by the hapless Nastagio has been invited to a banquet, where she bears witness to a spectral reluctant bride pursued to the death by her spurned lover—a knight—and his dogs.
Many times as in the case of nobility, marriages were arranged as a way to reach social and political gain.
The family of the bride was required to present a dowry to the husband which often padded the husbands wealth.
The bridal procession might even face dangers from hostile mobs or individuals, as suggested by a Florentine statute from 1415, which forbade the throwing of stones or garbage at the home of the couple.
Wedding processions were often compared to ancient triumphal processions.
In its remarkable detail and psychological poignancy, this image conveys both the highest aspirations and the greatest fears of any bride on her wedding day.
Obedience, a virtue that was highly valued as a trait in renaissance wives, is just one of the many expectations of husbands that played into how women were treated.The idea of the wedding as a triumph is reflected in the imagery on cassoni (marriage chests) panels such as Apollonio di Giovanni’s Triumph of Scipio Africanus, known in several versions.Descriptions of fabulous scenery and floats for the great Medici weddings of the sixteenth century are well known through Giorgio Vasari’s Lives and other sources.Beginning in the fifteenth century, the ancient Roman practice of declaiming custom-written poems celebrating the union was revived.Wedding poems, called epithalamia, are full of references to the purpose of marriage: to perpetuate the civic and political institutions that maintain a stable society.In his account of the life of the versatile designer Il Tribolo, Vasari describes the 1539 wedding, in Florence, of Cosimo I de’ Medici and Eleonora di Toledo: “Tribolo was given the charge of constructing a triumphal arch at the Porta al Prato, through which the bride, coming from Poggio, was to enter; which arch he made a thing of beauty, very ornate with columns, pilasters, architraves, great cornices, and pediments.