These days it is common to associate diamonds with engagement rings, and wedding lists with wedding gifts from guests…but both of these ‘traditions’ are modern inventions.
De Beers, a diamond mining conglomerate, launched an advertising campaign promoting diamond engagement rings in the 1930s. The campaign, which used the slogan “A diamond is forever”, was devised by advertising agency N.W. Ayer & Son and was fantastically successful, changing the way the world bought diamonds.
Similarly, the idea of a bridal registry, or wedding gift list, was invented in 1924 by department store Marshall Field’s (now Macy’s). Although many people choose not to use a prescribed gift list it is a concept that has gained great popularity in recent times.
Against such recent innovations, it is interesting to reflect on the fact that coins are ‘the original wedding gift’, with a tradition stretching back over thousands of years. Roman grammarian Nonius Marcellus stated that,
…coins are ‘the original wedding gift’
…the Roman bride “by way of an old Roman custom” carried three coins: one for her husband, one for the Lares Familiares, and one for the Lares of the neighbouring crossroads.
(Source: The Roman Wedding: Ritual and Meaning in Antiquity By Karen K. Hersch, Cambridge, 2010)
There are a wealth of traditional opportunities to give coins as wedding gifts. Below we list some of the more common. If you have your own, please leave a comment below!