The Electric Wedding: 1892

electric diadem

Electric diadem by M. Gustave Trouve, 1880s.

An Electrical Wedding.

One of the peculiarities of our American cousins seems to be a consuming desire for novelty in their weddings. Hence we read of their being married in balloons, and over the telegraph wires, and in other outlandish fashions. A dazzling function took place in Baltimore the other day in the shape of an electrical wedding,” which quite throws into the shade previous nuptial celebrations. The Baltimore Sun says that tiny incandescent lamps were concealed in the foliage of the screen, and glowed and disappeared irregularly like fireflies in among the trees. Electrical butterflies and birds perched among the leaves and flowers. Overhead was a crown of Chinese lanterns, each containing a sixteen-candle power lamp. The bridal arch of evergreen under which the newly married pair stood to receive their friends was provided with a row of electric lamps in red, white and blue. On top of the arch was perched an American eagle, and on the shield of pink velvet, which formed the keystone of the arch, was outlined in incandescent lights the figure of a heart, the initials of bride and bridegroom, and the date 1892. Two bronze statues stood guard at the entrance of the room, and their helmets went illuminated by incandescent lamps. This, however, was far from exhausting the catalogue of marvels. There was an ingenious arrangement suddenly set in motion, and a shower of rice and imitation snowflakes was discharged over the wedding party by means of two electric fan motors placed in the gallery overhead. As the guests entered the supper room there was a sudden outburst of electrical bells and musical entertainments. As the guests were seated there was a blaze of light, and at the completion of the first course the words Good Luck appeared over the heads of the newly-married couple, and an electric hair-pin, a gift to the bride, became incandescent and surrounded her head with a halo of light

Wine bottles were suddenly transformed into glowing candelabra, and the feast was one long continued series of electrical surprises. All this may suit the American taste. Quiet English people, however, find the wedding ceremony in itself sufficiently trying to the nerves without being stunned and bewildered afterwards by a constant succession of electrical surprises.”

Press, 29 December 1892: p. 4

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire:  The reception sounds exhausting: like getting married in a fun-house, with “surprises” popping out every time one turns around.  The bride is fortunate that no one threw a pitcher of water on her, thinking that her hair was on fire when the hair-pin lit up.

But the newspapers could not get enough of this novel wedding. Here are more illuminating details:

An Electrical Wedding.

The bride was Miss Jeanette Ries (now Mrs. Lewis S. Greensfelden), and the nuptial novelty was due to the enthusiasm of her brother, the electrician and inventor.

Electrician Ries was master of ceremonies. The marriage was at the house of the bride’s mother, Mrs. E. F. Ries, and, of course, there was no unseemly spectacular interruption of the solemn knot tying.

But no sooner had the company been comfortably seated at the banquet table than the room burst into a flood of light from numerous vari-colored incandescent electric lamps hidden among the decorations and suspended at various points above the heavily laden tables. The entrance of the bride and groom was welcomed by the automatic ringing of electric bells and the playing of electrical musical instruments.

trouve illuminated flowers

Electric flowers as designed by M. Gustave Trouve.

After the first course had been served the room was plunged into semi-darkness, when suddenly from among the floral decorations upon the table there glowed tiny electric lamps, lending an exquisite charm and attraction to the scene. Not only the flowers, but the interior of the translucent vases in which some of them were gathered scintillated with flashes of light. After a while a miniature electric lamp, which in some unexplained manner had attached itself to the bride’s hair, was seen to glow with dazzling brightness.

Mr. E. E. Ries gave a toast to the couple, wishing long life and an enjoyment of good things like those spread before them. He concluded with an injunction to be temperate in all things, at the same time touching an electric button, when two serpents slowly uncoiled themselves and issued from the wine bottle that stood before the bridal couple.

Cigars and coffee were served, and the cigars were lighted by an electric heater, while the coffee was boiled in full view of the company by an electric lighter. The speeches that were made were liberally applauded by an electric kettle drum placed under the table. It treated all with impartiality. As the company dispersed the electric current set off a novel pyrotechnic display, amid the crimson glare of which the festivities ended. Baltimore Sun.

Carlisle [PA] Evening Herald 27 May 1891: p. 3

The electric hair-pin reminds us of the creations of M. Gustave Trouve, who created electric jewels with pocket batteries, as well as ballet costumes, lit by tiny bulbs.

gustave trouve electric tiara

Although we find few other examples of electric weddings (a testimony, perhaps, to the sturdy common sense of most bridal couples) several years later, during the actual ceremony, electricity was once again employed in a singularly symbolic way to demonstrate the extinguishing of the bride’s identity. Peculiar it may have been; romantic is quite another question.

A peculiar and romantic episode occurred recently at a wedding ceremony in Cleveland. Above the bride’s head was an elaborate device, with her name in small electric lights. Above the groom appeared a similar decoration, save that it was his name that sparkled there. All through the ceremony the lights burned brilliantly, but at the words: “I pronounce you man and wife,” the bride’s name was “turned off.”

Omaha [NE] World Herald 10 November 1900: p. 11

 

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.

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