Wedding Gown Contretemps: 1901

A June Bride


Some of the Experiences That Have Befallen Some Young Women on Their Wedding Day.

They were discussing June weddings and June brides in the last box in the pavilion at Lake Harriet and the sound of their voices rose softly above the two-step with which Sorrentino and his men in red were bewitching their hearers.

“I know for a positive fact,” declared the first young woman, “that the reason Molly was half an hour late for her own wedding was that the dressmaker did not send home her gown until after the time announced for the service. Molly was nearly frantic and was almost ready to start in a last summer’s dimity when the messenger arrived, breathless and cross. The dressmaker tells a good story, but it does not tally with the messenger’s.”

“I wish you could tell me why a dressmaker has such an antipathy to sending a wedding gown home before it is time for the bride to wear it,” asked the second young woman, shaking the pop corn from her skirts. “Molly is not the only bride who has spent her last unmarried moments acting Sister Ann from the hall window, and no Bluebeard was ever more relentless than the woman who made the organdie that was causing so much anxiety and confusion.”

“Perhaps she is afraid the bride will try on the gown if it is sent home early, and you know it is frightfully unlucky to try on a wedding gown,” ventured the third young woman, who was young, as the generous bag of taffy in her lap showed. “Zaidie tried hers on, you know, and spilt lemonade all down the front, and the gown had to be sent to the cleaner’s. Imagine being married in a cleaned gown!”

“Don’t confuse carelessness with ill luck,” advised her elders, “and don’t think the dressmaker is acting from philanthropic motives. Just what her reason is I haven’t been able to decipher, but I know that it is not the welfare of the bride’s future that guides her. When Rebecca went to see about her trousseau, she told her modiste that she was to be married a month earlier than she was, and the woman promised her clothes for early in May. Rebecca thought she was mighty clever, and everything would have been as she planned if she had not ordered her invitations of the same stationer that stamps the dressmaker’s note paper. The modiste saw the invitation at the shop, and work on Rebecca’s trousseau commenced to lag. Instead of getting her gowns early in May, Rebecca never received them until the day of the wedding. The dressmaker made one excuse after another for failing to send them home, although Rebecca declares that they were all finished, except hemming down a facing or two, at the promised time.”

“Minerva had a worse time than that. She ordered her gowns and the dressmaker drilled over them until two weeks before the wedding. When Minerva tried on the wedding gown in its embryonic condition she was discouraged. She did not like it and she would not be married in a gown she did not like. She suggested that certain alterations be made. The dressmaker refused, saying that the gown was made as Minerva had ordered it and she could not change it for the wedding. Minerva has Scotch blood in her veins and she refused to take any of her gowns unless the white mousseline de soie was change to suit her. The dressmaker threatened a law-suit. Minerva’s American blood wavered, but she is more Scotch than American and it was the former that gave her courage to say: ‘Sue!’ The dressmaker went a step further and threatened to bring suit on the very day of Minerva’s wedding. Minerva consulted a lawyer. He advised her to have as quiet a wedding as possible, to smuggle her clothes out of the house and to secrete her wedding gifts as fast as they arrived for fear the dressmaker might levy on them. Minerva changed her plans, packed her trunks at a neighbor’s and sent her presents out of the house almost before they had arrived. Those that came too late to be sent away, were artfully concealed among the family silver and cut glass. The wedding gown, procured from a second dressmaker, was brought into the house from a laundry wagon and the wedding took place with a very uncertain idea of how it would end. Minerva did not dare have her going away gown in the house and left in a shirt waist and old skirt. A friend carried the real traveling gown to the station and she changed there and took the train with a feeling that anticipation is greater than realization and that a wedding and a law suit were too much for one day. The dressmaker did nothing but disturb Minerva’s peace of mind, but she did that well.”

“Penelope had quite an interesting time with her wedding gown. It was sent home early, for a wedding gown, fully half an hour before the service. Penelope was all ready to don it and all of her feminine relatives hastened to help her take it from the box. You know Penelope, tall, slight and dark, just the style of a girl to wear white satin well and her gown was all of the stiffest, heaviest satin. You can imagine her amazement when she opened the box and found a love of an organdie, all ruffles and lace insertion. She gave a shriek which was echoed by all the feminine relatives, they screamed to the masculine relatives and the latter dashed out in mad pursuit of the messenger. It was one of the hottest of June days and outwardly and inwardly the masculine relatives were very warm as they finally persuaded the boy to stop. It. took some time to convince him that he had made a mistake and brought confusion and distress to two brides. Penelope lives somewhere south and the boy had taken her white satin gown to a fluffy little blonde up north and the minutes seemed hours until a change was effected and the guests downstairs wondered if the bridal couple had decided that a wedding would be a mistake and were gathering courage to confess.”

“Last summer one of the girls was married in a gown that was made for another bride and taken to her by mistake. Fortunately it fitted her, and, as the dressmaker did not send it home until the time of the service, it was that or an old gown. The real owner was not to be married until evening, and the afternoon was spent by one of the maids in trying to make the mull look as if it had never been worn.”

“And the moral of that,” said the girl  with the taffy, as she crumpled the bag and threw it over the railing, “is not to be married in June.”

“And the moral of that is not to be married at all,” retorted the girl with the popcorn. “The September and October brides have just as many hairbreadth escapes with their wedding gowns as those of June.”

The Minneapolis [MN] Journal 29 June 1901: p. 20

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: It is a curious quirk, this reluctance to deliver a wedding gown in a timely manner. One would think that the dressmakers would be eager to deliver the dress and receive their thanks and pay. Such things did not only afflict the June bride:


Man Who Had to Wed in Old Clothes Blames Express Company.

Atlanta, Ga., Jan. 6. Forced to marry in a much-worn suit of business clothes, and embarrassed by the subdued but audible titter of the guests at the fashionable wedding in Ligonier, Ind., Walter Lathrop, a prominent business man of Atlanta, has filed suit for damaged against the Southern Express company, alleging the company contracted to, but failed to deliver his wedding outfit in time. The marriage took place, but Lathrop felt that the humiliation required amelioration of a financial kind. He declared in his petition that Ligonier was too small a place to buy another outfit and he did not have time to go to Chicago.

The Inter Ocean [Chicago IL] 7 January 1910: p. 6

He sued for $1000 damages. $200 for loss of clothes and $800 damages to his social standing for having to be married in a business suit.

There were a considerable number of superstitions–some contradictory–that daunted Victorian brides. Here are a few specifically relating to the dress:

Nor should a bride make her own wedding dress, if she would have the best of luck.

There is an old superstition that if the bride’s outfit was not paid for at the time of the wedding bad luck would affect one of the first little ones later.

It is said to be unlucky to begin making the wedding gown before the wedding day is named.

It is bad luck to try on the bridal costume of a girl friend.

Chicago [IL] Tribune 16 November 1919: p. 61

And, in Britain, bad luck is supposed to dog the bride who wears anything but a secret wedding gown. In 1960, some of the details of Princess Margaret’s wedding gown were “leaked” in the United States publication, Women’s Wear Daily, but she defied the superstition and wore the gown, which was, in all fairness, quite lovely.  Mrs Daffodil is quite sure that the turmoil of that marriage, which culminated in divorce in 1978, had nothing whatever to do with the reports on the gown just before the marriage.


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 anecdote

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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