A bride is a woman who has been chosen to marry a man. She may be dressed in white, as is traditional at Western weddings. She may wear a veil, as is customary in many cultures, which covers her head during the ceremony and often signifies a virgin. She may have flowers pinned to her head or shoulders. She may carry a basket of fruit or nuts, as is customary in some cultures. She may be escorted to her husband’s home by her parents or other relatives. During her transition to the new family’s house, she may be strewn with petals, nuts, and other items as acts of naive sympathetic magic to ensure fertility.
Generally, the word bride comes from Old English, but it has a variety of roots in other Germanic languages. Some scholars believe that it originally meant either a bride engaged to be married or the woman on her wedding day, implying a woman’s rite of passage from girlhood to wifehood. Others, however, suggest the etymology is more related to intercourse and fertility.
In some cultures, a bride price is paid to the bride’s family in order to give her away to the groom. This varies widely, from nothing at all if the bride is already married, or if she has children, to ten million Thai Baht (US$300,000) or more for a beauty queen or a high social status woman. In many cases, the payment of a bride price is more of a bargaining tool than an expression of love. Educated women, for example, tend to command higher prices, as they are more productive.
The Bible tells the story of the search for a bride for the Son of God. The Father has been looking for a woman to become the bride of His Beloved Son. He has been gathering people from every nation, tongue, tribe and ethnicity. Those who are His have one thing in common: their love for Jesus Christ the Bridegroom.
In the West, a bride may choose to have a maid of honor or matron of honor, who are her closest attendants. The matron of honor traditionally had a more prominent role in the ceremony, but this is becoming less common as brides seek to make their own choices about how to celebrate their special day. On the actual wedding day, these female attendants may help the bride in a number of ways, from providing emotional support to her to giving hands-on assistance like bustling her gown or affixing her veil. Some brides even choose to have both a maid of honor and a matron of honor in order to split up responsibilities.