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Marriage was a community affair. The notion of privacy developed slowly through the 19th century. It was rare, for example, to have a private honeymoon; instead, the newlyweds would visit family, often accompanied by family members (Noël, 61; Ward, 115 - 117).
The community could celebrate a marriage -- or it could express its disapproval through a charivari, or shivaree. This old European custom, to show disapproval of a marriage, persisted in North America well into the 20th century. Disapproval might be expressed for a large gap in age between the bride and groom; a widow or widower remarrying too soon after a spouse's death; a couple too old to marry; or a marriage for money.
Whatever the reason, a charivari was intended to disrupt the wedding night. A crowd of neighbours would surround the newlyweds' house and fire guns, bang on pots and pans, shout, blow horns, and generally raise a racket. They might even break down the front door and demand drink or money (Noël, 60 - 61; Ward, 112 - 115).
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Charivaris were generally good humoured, but they could turn violent; there were instances of bridegrooms shooting and killing the disturbers. Over time the custom slowly changed character, becoming more of a prank than a protest, or turning into a community serenade of the newlyweds (Ward, 112 - 114; Noël, 60 - 61).
Another ancient practice that gradually died out over the century, as the desire for privacy became more the norm, was that of bedding the bride and groom. In the tradition derived from England and other European countries, friends and wedding attendants prepared the newlyweds for bed. Apparently, one Northern Irish custom had the bridegroom running the gauntlet stark naked before he was escorted to his bride.
"After my mother & Anne & Susan had come down from laying the Bride out & had retired to their own rooms the Bridegroom by his brother's order was proceeding with great deliberation to undress in the drawing room and performed the operation with such celerity that he was almost in a state of nudity before my father could stop him. With much solicitation, however, we got his brother to compromise with him for giving a ball when he went home instead of running the gantlope in his pelt four times up and down the room. This practice may have place in the north of Ireland but I must be just enough to say those of the same class in the East ... are the more civilized" (quoted in Ward, 111).
Noël, Françoise. Family Life and Sociability in Upper and Lower Canada, 1780 - 1870: A View from Diaries and Family Correspondence. Montréal: McGill-Queen's University Press, 2003.
Ward, W. Peter. Courtship, Love and Marriage in Nineteenth-Century English Canada. Montréal: McGill-Queen's University Press, 1990.