Weddings today seem such a stressful, complicated affair. If you have cast off the misery of a single life and plunged into all the misery of someone in pursuit of the perfect day, why not follow this eighteenth-century model of the Broomstick Marriage?
a) Get married with a number of other couples, ensuring reduced expense
b) Ensure there is a suspicious-looking old woman with a cat to observe the proceedings (for that much-needed edge of witchery)
c) Jump over a broomstick
d) Get blotto and pass out on the floor.
There doesn’t appear to be any legal evidence that such ceremonies were actually practised, but it was a common enough trope by the 1780s that the scandalous secret ‘marriage’ of the Prince of Wales and Maria Fitzherbert was described thus in a song printed in The Times: “Their way to consummation was by hopping o’er a broom, sir.”
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