Illustrated by Anna Sundit.
Love hurts, and sometimes weddings do, too. If ye olde traditions had their way, matrimony would be a malevolent thing. Men were taunted and beaten. Women were stripped in elaborate courtship games. And, if everyone was left alive with all their limbs by the end, then, well...they kissed.
Mental Floss breaks down a few of these tortuous traditions, and one of our favorites comes from northeastern Russia, where a suitor basically became a slave to his betrothed's parents. If and when they approved of his work, they sent him to remove their daughter's clothes. And, while that was considered the actual ceremony, the wedding party had not yet begun. That started when all nearby women piled clothes onto the bride, wrapping her tight like a mummy, and standing watch for her intended. The groom then had to find a rare unguarded moment to strip her once again. If successful, he'd run away and she'd invite him into her bed. If caught, he was beaten by the women and needed to try, try again.
They're not all that brutal, however: In the Netherlands, men were told they must like cats if they wanted to marry a beautiful woman. Which isn't terrible advice, as cat-hating never got anyone anything. Put that in your wedding vows. (Mental Floss)