Word Origin & History
O.E. weddian "to pledge, covenant to do something, marry," from P.Gmc. *wadjojanan (cf. O.N. veðja "to bet, wager," O.Fris. weddia "to promise," Goth. ga-wadjon "to betroth"), from PIE base *wadh- "to pledge, to redeem a pledge" (cf. L. vas, gen. vadis "bail, security," Lith. vaduoti "to redeem a
pledge"). Sense remained "pledge" in other Gmc. languages (cf. Ger. Wette "bet, wager"); development to "marry" is unique to Eng.
O.E. weddung "state of being wed" (see wed
). Meaning "ceremony of marriage" is recorded from c.1300; the usual O.E. word for the ceremony was bridelope, lit. "bridal run," in reference to conducting the bride to her new home. Wedding cake is recorded from 1648; as a style of
architecture, attested from 1879.