"woman newly married or about to be," Old English bryd "bride, betrothed or newly married woman," from Proto-Germanic *bruthiz "woman being married" (source also of Old Frisian breid, Dutch bruid, Old High German brut, German Braut "bride"), a word of uncertain origin.
Gothic cognate bruþs, however, meant "daughter-in-law," and the form of the word borrowed from Old High German into Medieval Latin (bruta) and Old French (bruy) had only this sense. In ancient Indo-European custom, the married woman went to live with her husband's family, so the only "newly wed female" in such a household would have been the daughter-in-law. On the same notion, some trace the word itself to the PIE verbal root *bhreu-, which forms words for cooking and brewing, as this likely was the daughter-in-law's job. An Old Frisian word for "bride" was fletieve, literally "house-gift."
"belonging to a bride or a wedding," c. 1200, transferred use of noun bridal "wedding feast," Old English brydealo "marriage feast," from bryd ealu, literally "bride ale" (see bride + ale); the second element later was confused with suffix -al (1), especially after c. 1600. Compare scot-ale under scot (n.) and Middle English scythe-ale (mid-13c.) "drinking celebration for mowers, as compensation for a particular job." Bridal-suite is by 1857.
A common Germanic compound (compare Old Saxon brudigumo, Old Norse bruðgumi, Old High German brutigomo, German Bräutigam), except in Gothic, which used bruþsfaþs, literally "bride's lord."
late 14c., nimphe, "one of a class of semi-divine female beings in classical mythology," imagined as beautiful maidens, eternally young, from Old French nimphe (13c.) and directly from Latin nympha "nymph, demi-goddess; bride, mistress, young woman," from Greek nymphē "bride, young wife," later "beautiful young woman," then "semi-divine being in the form of a beautiful maiden;" usually said to be related to Latin nubere "to marry, wed" (see nuptial), but Beekes suggests a Pre-Greek origin.
Sub-groups include dryads, hamadryads, naiads, nereids, and oreads. The sense in English of "young and attractive woman" is attested from 1580s. Meaning "insect stage between larva and adult" is recorded from 1570s. Related: Nymphal; nymphean.
Old English weddung "state of being wed; pledge, betrothal; action of marrying," verbal noun from wed (v.). Meaning "nuptials, ceremony of marriage" is recorded from early 13c.; the usual Old English word for the ceremony was bridelope, literally "bridal run," in reference to conducting the bride to her new home. Wedding ring is from late 14c.; wedding cake is recorded from 1640s, as a style of architecture from 1879. Wedding dress is attested from 1779; wedding reception from 1856.