By Linda Browne
“Oh, they say when you marry in June you’re a bride all your life, and the bridegroom who marries in June gets a sweetheart for a wife. Winter weddings can be gay like a Christmas holiday, but the June bride hears the song of a spring that lasts all summer long.”
So goes the song in the 1954 film Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. Indeed, June weddings have been alluded to in many songs and stories over the years. But why is this month considered such a popular one for tying the knot? As folklorist and writer Tad Tuleja points out in his book Curious Customs, like so many things, we can thank the ancient Romans - more specifically, Juno, the Roman goddess of marriage, childbirth and fertility.
“It is because she presided over the sixth month of the Julian calendar that it was considered lucky for weddings. May, on the other hand, was considered unlucky - a bizarre superstition, since Maia was a fruition goddess, but one that sheds light on the tendency to wait until June,” Tuleja writes.
He adds that “common sense and the desire for comfort” might also have something to do with it.
“Mrs. John Sherwood, a commentator on Gilded Age propriety, allowed as how there is ‘something exquisitely poetical in the idea of a June wedding. It is the very month for the softer emotions and for the wedding journey.’ The journey was and is the determining consideration,” Tuleja notes.
“Since the wedding was typically followed by a honeymoon, couples naturally preferred to set the date at the beginning of warm weather, which was also the beginning of the summer vacation season. One does not look forward to Niagara Falls in December.”
Fellow folklorist George Monger, in his book Discovering the Folklore and Traditions of Marriage, shares a couple of sayings that may further illuminate why people choose to wed when they do: “Married in June, life will be one honeymoon” and “Marry in May, and you’ll rue the day.”
“Again the ancient Romans are blamed for this belief because this was the month that offerings were made to the dead and when mourning clothes were worn. The Roman writer Plutarch noted that Romans did not marry during the month of May,” he writes.
However, Monger adds, looking at wedding statistics over several hundred years “suggests that couples did not avoid May as a wedding month, and indeed there was often a slight peak of weddings in May and September, which corresponded with seasonal payments when more people would have the money to be able to get married.”
In her book A History of the Wife, historian Marilyn Yalom also mentions the bad luck associated with May weddings in ancient times, writing that “weddings were generally planned for the second half of June. It was considered unlucky to marry in May or before June 15, when the temple of Vesta, goddess of the hearth, had its annual cleaning.”
However, June wasn’t always the most popular choice for lovebirds to take a flying leap into wedded bliss. In her book I Do! I Do! From the Veil to the Vows - How Classic Wedding Traditions Came to Be, Susan Waggoner says that January was the favoured month for marriage in ancient Greece “largely because it was the month of Hera, Zeus’s wife, the queen of goddesses, and the special protector of women” (of whom Juno is the Roman counterpart). At the time of the book’s publishing, in 2002, Waggoner mentions that August and September overtook June as the most popular time for getting married, adding that “January, once the month of the goddess Hera, is now the peak of planning season for wedding consultants and caterers.”
The favoured time for having a wedding might be shifting further still. According to a piece published on the wedding planning website TheKnot.com (using data from their 2022 Real Weddings Study, which consists of responses from 11,646 US couples married last year), 43 per cent of weddings took place between September and November, with October being the most popular month, accounting for 20 per cent of weddings. Summer was the second most popular season in which to wed, with 28 per cent of couples tying the knot between June and August. February takes the (wedding) cake for least popular month, accounting for just three per cent of the weddings.
FYI, if you’re trying to pick a date, The Knot has pinned down September 23 as the most popular wedding date for 2023, with October being the most popular wedding month overall.