the_norseman (the_norseman) wrote in little_details,

Roman wedding/dinner etiquette & organisation

This is my first post and I hope I can pick your collective brains a little here.

The setting is roughly equivalent to the Late Roman Empire (Diocletian's Tetrarchy). The people in question are upper class Romans or heavily Romanized upper class provincials, everyone is educated and reasonably cultured. I've got several books on the setting, and I've done quite a few google searches, this has turned up a lot of interesting information, but there's still a few niggling questions.

1. I am assuming male and female guests at a wedding, but I'm not sure if the men and women would be segregated between the ceremony itself and the bridal procession. Some sources suggest that men and women dined separately, but there's plenty of mosaics showing men and women dining (and reclining) together.

2. Sources on wedding dress suggest that the groom at least would be wearing a toga, and that the male guests might do the same, seeing as how this is a special occasion.

3. During the sacrifice to the gods the presiding priest would cover his head with a fold of his toga, but are the people witnessing the sacrifice obliged to do the same?

[EDIT: The priest in question is actually the bride's father, who as an important Equestrian has at least one local priestly office.]

4. Given the shape and the nature of the toga I'm assuming that it's effectively impossible to recline and eat while wearing one, especially the cumbersome late 3rd Century models. Is this correct? If so would guests who arrived in a toga remove it before reclining to dine? (One would assume so but...)

5. Roman dining-clothes (Cenatoria) consisted of a belt-less tunic and a mantle, which were generally less formal and more comfortable than regular clothes. How exactly do you change into this lighter outfit if you're visiting a friend's house? Did they wear a heavy cloak over the dining clothes? Or did they have a mantle that with two colours, so they could reverse the mantle and remove their belt and presto dining-clothes? If they wore a toga to a wedding, and were invited to the feast, would they wear the dinner tunic beneath the toga while the mantle was wrapped up and tucked into one of the folds?

6. How long does it take to put on a toga? I'm assuming that there would be slave attendants present to help out. I just need a ballpark figure here. For the record I have looked, and I've found lots and lots of information on the evolution of the toga, on how to put one on, the complaints about how hard it was, etc etc. There's not much information on how long it took/takes.

7. The wedding occurs in September, which, for the area they are in, means a very real risk of rain, possibly quite a bit of it too. What kind of arrangements could be made to protect the bride from the rain? I know that umbrellas are out, but what about a baldachin? As it is I have her getting fairly wet (the procession is long), and since the family is rich I need to know if this is plausible or not.
Tags: roman republic & empire, ~clothing

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