Late 15th century coat of arms roll from Germany. Photo source ~ wikipedia
Your reception offers so many opportunities to bring out the Medieval gal in you; from the menu and place settings to the entertainment, there are lots of ways to work your theme into your reception. You can turn any location into a medieval hall. Banners with family crests or Coat of Arms can be ordered and hung behind the head table. You can plaster your Coat of Arms all over: on plates that are special order, glasses that the guests can take home, even on your man, (remember the surcoats?). You can use your Coat of Arms on the menu and the invitations.
Designing a Coat of Arms is not as hard as it sounds and is a great way to not only decorate for your medieval wedding feast but a way to integrate your two families.
A Coat of Arms can be as simple as a cut piece of cloth with geometric shapes to very complex designs with animals and metaphoric symbolism.
Consider the Canadian Coat of Arms as an example. In the picture below you’ll see many symbols that are identified with Canada such as the maple leaf and our French and British heritage. There are also symbols that identify us with Britain such as the crown, lions, and unicorns, all symbols from the British Coat of Arms.
Canadian Coat of Arms ~ photo source Wikipedia
As you think about designing a Coat of Arms for your wedding day, consider things such as where you came from and your ancestry. If you are of African descent consider a lion or some other animal for the content or even an African mask. If you are Japanese perhaps place a samurai helmet on top of the shield or add the chrysanthemum from the Japanese Coat of Arms.
When Kate Middleton married Prince William a Coat of Arms was created for her.
Top: Newly designed Coat of Arms for Kate Middleton
Consider using flowers, animals or flags representing what you love or your ancestry. If Mike and I had done this for our wedding it would have included the symbols below.
Our Coat of Arms would probably have been flanked by a bear and a moose with Latvian, Welsh and German flags. For flowers Mike would have included a Rose of Sharon as that’s his favourite flower. I would have included Monkshood as that is my favourite.
If you feel stuck go to Make Your Coat of Arms or All Family Crests for ideas.
What you need for an authentic (or close to it) Medieval Dinner:
Wooden tables – preferably a few very long rectangular ones if possible.
Wooden bowls and plates
Pewter bowls and plates
Steins and tankards for beer and goblets for water, wine, and other drinks. These would have been metal (pewter), clay or wooden. (You can get a lot of these at second hand stores like Value Village)
Forks and knives – have them off to the side in case anyone wants them, but forks where not used until the Renaisance period.
Washing bowls – have them readily available between courses especially for those guests who choose to eat with their hands. Soap is good but you can also add some lavender as well to scent the water. Make sure that you also have towels for drying!
Candles – keep the lights low and have a lot of candles.
Photo source ~ justfoodnow.com
A great way to make your reception authentic is the menu itself. Medieval food is a bit different than the food we eat today as different foods were available. For example, potatoes and tomatoes were not part of European cuisine. Potatoes were only introduced to Europe in late 16th century. Tomatoes were another introduction following the Spanish conquest of the America and were popular in Europe by the end of the 17th century.
Appetizers: oysters, mussles, bread and butter, cheeses, tiny meat pies.
Salads: these were eaten in Medieval times but without tomatoes. Consider a salad of fresh spring greens with a vinaigrette dressing with berries.
Soups and Stews: these were very popular, but again, they did not include potatoes or tomatoes. Ingredients can include turnip, parsnip, carrots (but not orange carrots as those didn’t exist until the 17th century), herbs and barley. You can add meat like mutton, fish, pork and chicken.
Haggis is always a classic as are meat and vegetable pot pies.
Roasted meat like pig, goose/duck, lamb/mutton, whole fish, rabbit or hare and for dessert things like fresh fruit, apples or pears poached in wine are delicious.
As you plan your Medieval meal I suggest you read this article on Medieval Cuisine. In fact, I strongly recommend that you read it thoroughly before you start your planning!
I found a couple of Medieval menus online that are quite informative.
Note: Capon Pie = Pigeon Pie
Photo source ~ justfoodnow.com
You can still have modern entertainment like a DJ or band for dancing but perhaps consider live Medieval music during the dinner.
Harpists and lute players were probably the main event at a Medieval Feast. Not only did they provide music but they also told stories. Nowadays most musicians don’t do both but I’ve provided some information on harpists and story tellers that you could convince to work together to provide some Medieval entertainment. Consider traditional stories like the Arthurian legends, The Tale of Gawain and the Green Knight, and the Canterbury Tales.
Locally there is Niagara Harpist and Durham Folklore Story Tellers. A whole host of entertainers can be found on Gig Salad or try Canadian Viol Players.
Jesters are a classic symbol of Medieval entertainment. They were jugglers, stand up comedians and clowns all rolled into one. I tried so hard to find an actual jester in Ontario with no luck. However, you can hire clowns and magicians to play the same rolls. Maybe you can even convince them to dress in costume!
Here are a few available companies: Checkers Fun Factory Inc., Dotsy’s Entertainment Company and Costume Shop, and Happy Time Clowns.
Locations for your Medieval event:
And finally, the location. Fortunately you can make any location, from a hotel to a church hall, have a “Medieval” feel but here are some links to places that already have that feel.
Berkeley Events in Toronto has a lovely space for a Medieval wedding.
Elsie Perrin Williams Estate in London, Ontario is a beautiful spot.
The Ancaster Mill in Ancaster (Hamilton) has a lovely waterfall and grounds to add to your wedding.
The Knoll Wood Golf and Country Club, Ancaster, has a fabulous outdoor fireplace for ceremonies.
The Paletta Mansion in Burlington is stunning.
The Scottish Rite in Hamilton is very picturesque with lovely grounds.
The Stone Mill Inn in St. Catharines has beautiful suites and stone floors.
The Hart House in Toronto has great architecture and old world charm.
Another beautiful venue in Toronto is Casa Loma.
Check out the many sites on Event Source.
If you live in the United States there is the fun Medieval Faire in Ohio.
I hope you enjoyed my Medieval Themed Wedding posts and I look forward to writing about different theme weddings. If anyone wants me to write on a theme, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Some ideas I’m considering are: Roman, Egyptian, Renaissance, 1920’s, and Halloween.
See you soon and all the best!