As early as the sixteenth, up to the nineteenth century, marriages were arranged by parents or guardians.
The bride and bridegroom often were not acquainted until their marriage.
Suitors wooed their intended with seranades and flowery poetry, following the lead of lovelorn characters on stage and in verse. In 1228, it is said by many that women first gained the right to propose marriage in Scotland, a legal right that then slowly spread through Europe.
However, a number of historians have pointed out that this supposed leap year proposal statute never occurred, and instead gained its legs as a romantic notion spread in the press.
According to an old French custom, as the moon went through all its phases the couple drank a brew called metheglin, which was made from honey. Arranged marriages were the norm, primarily business relationships born out of the desire and/or need for property, monetary or political alliances.
The parents often made the marriage arrangements and betrothals while the bride and bridegroom were small children (ages three to seven).
The children would continue to live with their own parents and meet from time to time for meals or holiday celebrations.
During the Victorian Era (1837-1901), romantic love became viewed as the primary requirement for marriage and courting became even more formal - almost an art form among the upper classes.
An interested gentleman could not simply walk up to a young lady and begin a conversation.