A Candle Wedding: 1904

1904 wedding 4 (2)

1904 bride and groom

A Candle Wedding

A True Story

By Grace Bristow

The day of the wedding dawned clear and radiant, but as the morning progressed, dark clouds began to send across the sky.

Mr Wentworth, the bride’s father, shook his head dubiously. “I don’t like the looks of that,” he whispered to his wife.’ “It’s too much as it was just before that great storm two years ago.”

Sure enough, it grew darker and darker. The bridesmaids rushed from their homes to condole with the bride. The groom wandered disconsolately through the rooms and discussed the situation with his best man. The servants went about closing doors and windows. Presently the rain came, not in gusts, but in one tremendous downpour. The bride fell to weeping, the mother was frantic; but at 6 o’clock the clouds broke and the rain stopped as suddenly as it had begun. The bride emerged from her room, the bridesmaids rushed home to dress, the caterer and florist appeared, and all went merrily until nearly 7, when the servants started to light up the house and found that the storm had destroyed the electrical connections. There was gas in neither church nor house, and the few lamps were wickless and chimneyless, for in the novelty of having all the houses in town furnished with the new light, lamps had been put away on high shelves. What could be done? There never, never had been such a calamity at a wedding. Mrs Wentworth sobbed aloud as she considered the frightful outlook, and the bride sat in desperate silence in the darkness.

Suddenly an usher had a bright idea. “I can fix the church,” he exclaimed. “I know a big store where they took down their large hanging lamps only last week and stored them in the lumber room. We can get them and hang them from the chandeliers, pull the vines down a little and they will look all right.” Instantly he rushed off with the other men to carry out the plan. Then the bridesmaid had a thought equally brilliant.

“How many little glass lemonade cups have you? Only three dozen? Well, ask the caterer to send for about twenty dozen more and then somebody go down town and buy me heaps and heaps of tall wax candles.”

Nobody saw the connection between lemonade glasses and candles, but her orders were obeyed. When both articles were at hand she went into the yard, filled the cups with wet, brown earth, and taking asters with rather short stems stuck three or four into each cup and placed the candle in the middle. The flowers drooped over the edge and stood up around the tall candle prettily, while the cups looked like bronze, with the earth showing through the glass.

When dozens were ready, she put long regular rows across each mantel, behind the potted ferns already in place, grouped some on the piano, and on each bookcase. bracket and table in all the rooms. Everyone was anxious to see the effect, but she sternly prohibited any lighting, beyond what was actually necessary, till after the ceremony.

The men came home from the church and announced that it looked very well, but that it still needed a little more light. “Very well!” said the ingenious bridesmaid, “this shall be a candle wedding. We will put them in the chancel and organ loft and all of us girls will carry candles. It will be perfectly lovely!”

It was quickly done, for luckily the house was near the church, and when the wedding march pealed out and the white-robed girls came in, each bearing her lighted taper, the effect was so becoming, lovely and unique that a loud murmur of admiration came from all over the church, while the tableau at the altar was something no one who saw it could ever forget. But the house was a vision of beauty, too. Guests who had seen ballrooms in Europe exclaimed that there never had been anything there so beautiful as this. And when the bride went up to put on her traveling dress, she hugged her bridesmaids ecstatically.

“No girl ever had such a pretty wedding,” she exclaimed. “Everybody says the church was lovely and the house a perfect dream. I would not have had electric light for the world! And you see my wedding did go off without a mishap after all, so there!”

Good Housekeeping, Vol. 39, October 1904: p. 500-501

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: It all sounds perfectly lovely, and the bride’s friends are to be congratulated on their resourcefulness. However, Mrs Daffodil is just grateful that there was no tragic sequel. The church undoubtedly contained a large amount of wood   and 1904 gowns were of featherweight lawn and silk that would go up in smoke at the merely touch of flame.

Still, there have been an unusual number of storms this spring, so this idea may prove useful in an emergency.  To-days brides could duplicate the “look” with the new electric candles, some of which have flickering “flames.”


Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes

You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.


4 thoughts on “A Candle Wedding: 1904

  1. JoAnn B Shupe

    But the organ didn’t require electricity to play? Hand-pump organs have been out of style for a Very Long Time.


    1. JoAnn B Shupe

      I hadn’t considered the foot pump option, I was just thinking how proud the whole town had been of being electrified, and of course, the vestry would have been anxious to do the whole church, not just the lights.



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