Category Archives: Weddings

Floral Sunshades: 1884

 

flower bedecked parasols 1895

Floral Sunshades.

Floral sunshades are, as we learn the latest innovation in flower fashion just now in Nice, where the ladies are using parasols composed entirely of natural flowers, so that their sunshades resemble nothing so much as gigantic bouquets stuck on sticks. The stalks of the flowers are woven together, so as to form a network of bloom, the inside being lined with silk. One parasol is made entirely of violets, with a bordering of jessamine; another of geraniums, white and red in rows, fringed with maiden-hair fern; another of pansies, and so on. When the flowers fade the parasol has to be made up again, generally at intervals of two days. We always thought our New York friends a little extravagant in their flower torture, nor could any one persuade us to admire the great massive crosses, anchors, wreaths and wedding- bells affected by some portions of American society: but even there they do not, I believe, expose their beautiful flowers on sunshades to wither and die. I hope that it is only some ladies, and those only a few, that degrade nature’s flower gifts in this way. A friend to whom I showed the above paragraph said she should as soon think of skewering a living dove or a lark in her bonnet as of abusing lovely flowers wholesale in the manner that I have just indicated.

The Clay Center [KS] Dispatch 31 July 1884: p. 2

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: The Hall Head-Gardener, Mr McKew, would have a word or two to say about the fashionable abuse of flowers. It pains his soul to supply even cut flowers for the table and he would, no doubt, call the floral parasol a shocking waste and a sin against floriculture .

Still, the showiness and ephemeral quality of the floral parasol made it a popular fad:

FLOWER BEDECKED PARASOLS.

The coming season’s sunshades are bewildering in floral effects. One is of violet-colored chiffon, with wreath and nosegays of artificial violets. Big bows of violet ribbon ornament its stick at top and handle, and the graceful ruffle around its edge is gay with silver spangles. A nosegay of violets nestles in the knot of the ribbon on the handle and the whole is delicately scented with violet sachet.

Another new floral parasol, although more severe in style, is even more chic. It is trimmed with orchids, one huge cluster hanging from the bow at the top and a smaller one at the handle. The sunshade itself is of heavy cream-tinted silk, with mother-of-pearl handle. All the parasols this year are noticeable for their elegance and showiness. Every detail is most costly, and, in many instances, most

Perishable, as the fluffy and flowery effects so greatly in vogue are not meant for wear and tear. The good old-fashioned plain parasol, lasting a whole season through, is completely obliterated by this crowd of fragile and efflorescent novelties.

The Abbeville [SC] Press and Banner 3 April 1895: p. 3

Mrs Daffodil does not see the appeal in the floral novelty, although there will always be those who will follow a fad merely for the extravagance of the thing. The floral parasol lacks the tidiness one likes to see in fashion accessories. This fashion writer made a very apt comparison:

Some of the floral parasols have a peculiar effect when carried closed. These look as if the owner had been cutting for herself a large posy and fixed it on a stick, in the style of a May day posy of long ago. The impression is still further carried out when a florally trimmed hat to match is worn—as is often the case. The Ottawa [IL] Free Trader 4 August 1888: p. 7

The floral parasol did, however, finally find its niche as a wedding decoration.

floral parasol wedding decoration

A Rose Parasol Instead of the Usual Bridal Bell.

June with its roses affords many tempting opportunities to the floral decorator. For weddings—and June is the favorite month for weddings—no prettier idea could be devised than that of substituting for the hackneyed wedding bell a floral parasol under which the bride and bridegroom may stand during the ceremony or at the reception. The roses and smilax are mounted on a skeleton parasol frame. Pink or white roses are suitable, the garden rose or the hothouse variety being adapted to the purpose.

The Richmond [IN] Palladium and Sun-Telegram 27 July 1911: p. 8

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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Only Three Months: 1877

 

courting couple 1896 British Library

Courting Couple, 1896, British Library

Only Three Months.

[Danbury News.]

They had been married about three months. The boy from the store appeared with a note from her husband. She clutched the precious missive with an eager hand, tremblingly opened it and read:

“Dear Wife: Send me a pocket handkerchief. John.”

She went slowly to the drawer to get the desired article, and while looking for it she came across the following note, dated two weeks after their wedding:

“SUNLIGHT OF MY SOUL: You will have to send me a handkerchief. Your bewitching eyes so turned my head this morning that I forgot to take one with me, for which I shall kiss the sweet face of my own a thousand times when I come home. In two hours and twenty minutes it will be twelve o’clock, and then I can come to my beautiful rose. I long to fly to you. A thousand kisses I send thee, my fairy wife.

“Yours tenderly, John.”

She sighed, gave the boy the handkerchief, and sighed again

The Highland Weekly News [Hillsboro OH] 2 August 1877: p. 3

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: The sad change from lover to carping husband was frequently remarked upon in the press, usually in the “Wit and Humour” section:

We heard a man complain about the weight of his baby the other day, and to our certain knowledge that same man used to hold the mother of that baby in his arms hour after hour after the fond parents of said girl had gone to their virtuous couch.

Elevator [San Francisco, CA] 12 September 1874: p. 4

“How lovely the period of engagement.”

“Yet how paradoxical; after marriage it comes to a full stop.”

Blue Pencil Magazine, 1900

Before Marriage: “Excuse me, George. Did my parasol hurt you?”

“Oh, no! my dear. It would be a pleasure if it did.”

After Marriage: “Great Heavens! There was never a woman under the sun that knew how to carry a parasol without scratching a fellow’s eyes out. And there never was a man that knew enough to walk on the right side of a woman with a parasol. There isn’t any right side to a woman with a parasol!”

The Winston Leader [Winston-Salem NC] 4 December 1883: p. 4

He calls her darling before they are married, but after he has been paying her bills for a while he calls her dear.

News-Journal [Mansfield OH] 22 September 1921: p. 4

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.

A Modest Proposal About English Wedding Presents: 1872

A representative specimen of English wedding gift horror http://www.bonhams.com/auctions/23462/lot/212/

ENGLISH WEDDINGS, AND WEDDING PRESENTS.

It is a matter of unquestionable notoriety, that all marriages are made in heaven; and it is equally certain that the beautiful descriptions of them, which we read, must be due to celestial correspondents. Such choice of words, such felicity of arrangement, such grace of epithets, could not emanate from any inferior source; and the future historian will best gather from these chronicles the condition of the English language in our day, and the manners and customs of those who spoke it. We shall not, perhaps, be accused of unnecessary repetition, if we call attention to the subject.

The sun is shining, and peculiar interest is excited. The bridegroom is accompanied by his friend, who is officiating as groomsman, and who is qualified by frequent service for the efficient discharge of the multifarious duties which are attached to the position. At precisely thirteen minutes and a half past eleven they alight at the church, saluted by the acclamations of the crowd, the excitement of the bystanders, and the symphony of bells. When the door is opened, four and twenty perpetual curates and prebendaries, deans and archdeacons, begin to assist one another. The scene increases in interest, until the climax is reached, when the bride enters, leaning on somebody’s arm, and supported by her bridesmaids, supplied with jewelry by a neighboring firm, which thus has the good fortune to secure eight advertisements of its goods.

The religious ceremony is performed with peculiar solemnity, unbroken, save by the fidgeting of the groomsman; the benediction is pronounced, and on repairing to the vestry, the formalities of registration are gone through, — a part of the ceremony which is often described in language worthy of Burke. After this, the party repair again to a mansion or residence, where a sumptuous dejeuner is prepared, and numerous covers are laid; a mysterious but interesting process. It is here that English oratory is displayed to its best advantage; and graceful tributes are paid on all sides, characterized by good taste, by brevity, and fluency. The peer forgets his pomposity, and the fact that nobody listens to him elsewhere; the groomsman feels that the lightest part of his duties has come, and all regret the close of his remarks. At precisely four minutes past two the bride and bridegroom take leave of their friends, and seek the seclusion of a country-seat.

Meantime, the “friends” separate, and the correspondent is enabled to furnish those advertisements which all read with interest, if not with excitement. The enumeration of the presents and of the names, both of their eminent manufacturers and of their donors, fills columns, and affords invaluable opportunities for fine writing. The “members of the domestic household,” called sometimes by profane and illiterate people servants, contribute something difficult to carry, and impossible to pack.

It is interesting to know that the flowers were not the production of nature, but were expressly supplied for the occasion by the floral manufacturer; nor is the name of the pastry-cook wanting, who made the indigestible compound termed a “bride-cake.” A few years more, and we shall be told the incomes of the guests, their ages, and the construction of the ladies’ petticoats. It may be that publicity is thus ostentatiously given to the names of those who contribute towards the future menage of the happy couple, in order that the standard may be raised, and that the donor of a water-bottle may shrink from appearing in the same list with the donor of a diamond bracelet. That aim, however, has not yet been realized, and the list of objects is as varied, and as free from all connection with each other, as the words which make up a page of Johnson’s Dictionary.

The company is a medley one; sugar-basins and aneroids, an antique pair of bellows, the Zoological Gardens faithfully represented in ormolu, a musical-box, a sketch mounted as a fan, fifty travelling articles to make locomotion impossible, a basket of snowdrops, and nine addresses on vellum, congratulating the bridegroom on the examples he has to imitate and on the wisdom of his choice, quite unreadable from the magnificent flourishes with which the initial letters abound, and signed by the schoolmaster and schoolmistress in behalf of the scholars.

Were the bride and bridegroom endowed with ostrich-like digestions, they might find some use for these articles. As it is, they often prove the most unmitigated nuisance, a misery alike to him who gives and to him or her who receives. It occasionally happens that the announcement of an engagement, instead of recalling the fact that two people are perfectly certain of being happy for life, that the cares of this world are over for them, and that a beautiful account of their marriage will appear in the newspapers and enrich the literature of the country, only suggests the painful thought that a present must be given, and, in order to be given, must be bought.

To explain the grounds for this impression would be impossible; a slight relationship exists between the victim and one or other of the engaged pair, and the persons about to marry are going to live in London, possibly in a large house; it may be that the intending giver received at some former period a perfectly useless and now blackened object, too dirty to make its appearance again in the world of rubbish, and that he feels bound to reciprocate the attention. “Human nature,” says a great authoress, “is so well disposed towards those who are in interesting situations, that a young person who either marries or dies is sure of being kindly spoken of.” Whatever may be the cause, the dilemma remains the same. Much mental agony is undergone, increasing as the interval before the marriage becomes shorter. Some prudent persons have a stock of objects always on hand, one of which they forward upon receipt of the intelligence; and thus they may have the good fortune to send the first of the fifteen inkstands which follow.

She who hesitates is lost; now helplessly bemoaning her condition, now peering uneasily into shop-windows, and finding that every thing costs seven pounds, when she is prepared to spend only four. Her sense of her unfortunate position daily grows in intensity, and she may next be seen sitting in a shop, with a choice selection in front of her, amongst which are a blotting-book covered with excrescences of brass like a portmanteau, a miniature helmet, two shepherdesses of modern Meissen, a silver-gilt machine for brushing away crumbs after breakfasting in bed, a gentleman in ormolu looking into a windwill about the same size as himself and of the same material, both containing cavities in their insides for matches, the discovery of which would occupy a lifetime. What a choice is here! The biggest fool of her acquaintance has just ordered the silver-gilt machine, which costs thirty pounds, so she takes the windwill with a sigh of relief, and sends it as a little object to remind her friend of the happy hours they have spent together.

Her friend sends in return a little note, assuring her that she will always value it, reflecting that it is a just requital for the ormolu porcupine stuffed with pins which she had presented on a previous occasion. But the donor and the windmill are not destined to lose sight of one another just yet.

It is bad enough to see the rubbish in the shop, but there is some excuse for the production of these costly and worthless trifles. What the dogs are in the East to the streets, the givers of modern wedding presents are to the trade, — the scavengers of refuse; what is too dirty, too useless, too ugly for other purposes, they absorb; but it is too hard to be called upon to look at it again when exposed to view in the drawing-room of the unfortunate girl whose future life is to be spent, or supposed to be spent, in its contemplation. There are entertainments of divers kinds and degrees of dullness; but the entertainment which is given for the display of the objects we have described is without an equal.

Neatly arranged upon the tables in symmetrical order lie these specimens of English taste, “several hundreds in number,” slips of paper being attached to them recording the names of the givers. Here the lady and the windmill meet once more, regretfully perhaps, for some kind friend announces that she only gave two pounds for the candlesticks opposite; another has picked up something for thirty shillings, which produces a sublime effect, and the name of the shop where similar objects can be procured is whispered in secret. There is a pleasing equality evinced in the display; her Grace and the housemaid think the same thing ” beautiful,” and probably spend the same amount of money upon the object of their admiration.

The custom of giving wedding presents, as it now exists, is a social tax which, though paid by every one, is only paid grudgingly and on compulsion. It represents neither affection nor interest, and is not productive of the smallest profit to any save the tradesmen whose wares are sold for the purpose. Its counterpart can only be found in the custom which existed a short time ago of giving leaving-books at Eton. The fashion was exactly analogous; little boys give them to big boys, to whom they always had been, and to whom they continued in after life, complete strangers, subscribing themselves their “sincere friends on their leaving Eton.” The head-master submitted to the custom at a smaller cost; wise in his generation, and being an elegant classic, he had published, or privately printed, a quarto edition of some Latin author, which, it is needless to say, nobody ever wanted, and no one ever bought. This peculiarly useless volume was exchanged for the sum of ten pounds, deposited in some corner of the room by the boy who was bidding good-by, whence it was generally supposed that the head-master ultimately took it. This pleasant mode of escaping the tax was, unfortunately, not open to those who paid for the leaving-books presented by their sons to their sincere friends, and who not unnaturally considered that the annual expenditure of fifteen or twenty pounds was hardly compensated by the possession of some scores of soiled copies bound in yellow calf.

What these books are to the library, wedding presents are to the ordinary furniture of a house. What is to be done with the windmill? Should the first opportunity be seized for getting rid of it, there is the risk that its donor will tenderly inquire after it. It cannot be given away after the lapse of six months; for its color is gone, and it looks as if it might have been present at Hilpah’s wedding to Shalum. The poor thing eventually finds a shelter and a home in some spare bedroom of a country house, where damp and dust hasten its decay. Sometimes it is destined to a harder fate. One swallow does not make a summer, and the gift of a wedding present does not insure the celebration of a marriage; the engagement may very possibly be broken off, and one of the consequences is the return of the windmill to its unhappy and original possessor, whose feelings on its re-appearance we forbear from commenting on.

If the State would include wedding presents among the assessed taxes, and fix a definite sum to be paid at the beginning of each year, great relief would be experienced; the government would, of course, realize a profit, and a large sum would still remain to be distributed as marriage portions. The present inequality would be remedied; for, as it is, those who never marry at all (and their number is daily increasing) receive no return for their original outlay; but on the institution of the tax this need no longer be the case. Single women, on attaining the age of forty-five, might, on condition of subscribing a declaration setting forth the extreme improbability of their marrying, and their aversion to that condition, receive the sum to which they would have been entitled on marriage. Widows, on the other hand, would get nothing under any circumstances, being exhorted to remain contented with the ormolu of the first marriage.

During the interval before the adoption of this plan we have but one remedy to propose. Surely the old shoes which are now so lavishly thrown away at the departure of the bride and bridegroom, are capable of conversion into some valuable substance; which cannot be predicated of wedding presents. Let, therefore, the next “groomsman ” set a bright example, and deserve well of society and the oppressed; as the carriage starts, let a shower of aneroids, barometers, bellows, candlesticks, vases, mosaics, and antiques, gracefully fall and flutter around it. Thus we feel sure that a “peculiar interest would be excited,” while the struggles of the crowd to possess objects which to their inexperienced eyes might seem capable of being exchanged for a shilling would give additional animation to the scene. The prevalence of this custom might be expected to modify to some extent the present fashion, the chief compensation for which must be found in the advantages which result from a study of the pages of the Court Journal.

Every Saturday 27 April 1872: p. 449-51

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire:  Mrs Daffodil fears that she has nothing to add to these really excellent proposals, except to note that the shower might result in shards of broken Dresden china and glass in the streets. That would annoy the horses, but crossing-sweepers might be delighted with the added employment and tips.

It is a bore, but one may also exchange or sell the horrors.

As for the loss of wedding gifts to the ladies who remain unmarried, this “bachelor-girl’s” father and friends were thoughtful enough to make up the deficit: 

One of the great bugbears of spinsterhood has been demolished by a Minnesota woman. Though she had had many suitors, of course, she was still unwedded at thirty, and one day, as she was sending off a gift to a girl friend who was about to be married, she bewailed the fact that the bachelor-girl never got wedding-presents or a trousseau. Her father promised that she herself should not be slighted in this respect, whether she married or not, and a few weeks ago, when she accepted the offer of a business position and decided to take up her bachelor residence in Chicago, the old gentleman was as good as his word. He gave her a handsome check to buy a complete outfit of clothes, from shoes to bonnets, and many of her friends took up the idea and gave her useful and ornamental articles for her bachelor apartment. And now it is announced — whether it be through the aid of her fine feathers or not is not stated — she is to marry the president of the company that employs her.

The Argonaut [San Francisco, CA] March 21, 1898

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.

 

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.

Papa’s Curious Wedding Present: 1891

 

surprise soap

A Curious Wedding Present.

“There was a fine old gentlemen in this city, who from the humblest beginnings made his way steadily up to commercial fame and immense wealth, all by the manufacture of soap,” said a New-Yorker the other day, “and with all his wealth and prosperity, he never forgot how a poor man feels or lost any of his consideration for the rights of others. Pride never puffed him up, nor made him ashamed of his business or his early history.

”He was proud of the purity and excellence of his soap, and the secrets of his success over his rivals lay in the fact that he invented several processes for cheapening the manufacture of that article, and his great factory in this city was full of machinery of his own invention and manufacture. He made one ample fortune solely out of patenting the ideas of his fertile brain, and several others by selling the manufactures he was thus able to turn out.

“His wife was as intensely purse-proud as he was simple, though her origin was as simple as his own, and her daughter took after her. This child married well, as they say, that is, a young swell about town, proposed to her on account of the great wealth he knew she would inherit. When the engagement was settled the daughter and mother asked the old man what he was going to do in the way of setting the young people up in life.

“Here they ran up against an unexpected snag. The old boy would give nothing in the way of a dowry. He thought the bridegroom should support his wife unaided, till her father’s will gave her a share of his estate. The utmost he could be prevailed upon to do was to give his daughter a wedding present. What this would be he steadfastly refused to say just then. On the wedding day, however, his gift to the bride was the deed for a handsome house in a fashionable street, completely furnished in costly style from top to bottom.

“The bridal tour had all been arranged, so no stop was made by the happy pair to examine the new house. All through the honeymoon they talked of the pleasure they would have in going over the house, examining the pictures and plate and entertaining their friends in it. Great was the delight with which they entered their new home on their return. The carpets were velvet, the hangings of velvet and lace, the furniture hand-carved, the pictures old masters, the linen of the finest, and silverplate was everywhere, even in the kitchen.

“The bridegroom was delighted, but the bride’s cheeks were crimson, and her eyes flashed a fire that tears could not quench. Everywhere she looked she saw familiar objects that filled her with rage, snatching a silver salver from the table, she showed to her husband, engraved on it minutely but with elaborate detail, the representation of a bar of soap with her father’s well-known trademark on it.

“This queer crest was everywhere about the house, worked into carved furniture, woven into the linen and hangings, and even painted on the carriage and stamped on the harness which were presented with the house. It was the old man’s greatest pride, that trade-mark and what it stood for, but whether he had it put on his daughter’s things out of sheer simplicity of heart, or whether he intended it as a rebuke to her foolish pride I never found out.” N. Y. Tribune.

Idaho Statesman [Boise ID] 19 June 1891: p. 6

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: Mrs Daffodil does not believe in sheer simplicity of heart, particularly in wealthy soap magnates. The young lady was full of foolish pride and one expects that she sent the offending silver to the jeweller’s shop to rub out the crest (difficult to do with plate), called in carpenters to putty over the furniture motifs, and tipped the coachman to carelessly scratch the carriage panels with a hoof-cleaner.

No doubt her letter of thanks for the lavish and generous wedding-gift was a model of repressed emotions.

 

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.

 

Bridesmaid Superstitions: 1888

1889 wedding wreath

1889 wedding wreath: orange blossom and myrtle flowers of wax and fabric. https://artsandculture.google.com/asset/wedding-wreath/twEacgKuA0O25Q

PECULIAR NOTIONS.

Some of Those Relation to Bride-Maids and Their Duties.

Instead of being so many graceful ornaments at the marriage ceremony, as nowadays, the bride-maids in olden times had various duties assigned to them. Thus, one of the principal tasks was dressing the bride on her wedding morning, when any omission in her toilet was laid to their charge. At wedding, too. where it was arranged that the bride should be followed by a numerous train of her lady friends, it was the first bride-maid’s duty to play the part of drill mistress, “sizing” them so that “no pair in the procession were followed by a taller couple.” She was also expected to see that each bride-maid was not only provided with a sprig of rosemary, or a floral rose pinned to the breastfolds of her dress. but had a symbolical chaplet in her hand. In many parts of Germany it is still customary for the bride-maids to bring the myrtle wreath, which they have subscribed together to purchase on the nuptial eve, to the house of the bride, and to remove it from her head at the close of the wedding-day. After this has been done the bride is blindfolded, and the myrtle wreath being put into her hand, she tries to place it on the head of one of her bride-maids as they dance around her; for, in accordance with an old belief, whoever she crowns is sure to be married within a year from that date. As may be imagined, this ceremony is the source of no small excitement, each bride-maid being naturally anxious to follow the example of the bride. Referring once more to the bridal wreath and chaplet, it is still current notion in many parts of our own country that the bride, in removing these, must take special care that her bride-maids throw away every pin. Not only is it affirmed that misfortune will overtake the bride who retains even one pin used in her marriage toilet, but woe also to the bride-maids if they keep any of them, as their prospects of marriage will be thereby materially lessened.

La Cygne [KS] Journal 12 May 1888: p. 4

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire:  To-day, of course, the brides-maid has a massive list of expensive and onerous duties: Pedi-dates, spa week-ends, a “Hen Do” in Las Vegas or Bournemouth, and unspecified and on-demand “pampering.” The list above only scratches the surface of a long list of vintage “do’s and don’t’s” for the bridal attendant. Some others:

Slices of cake passed thru the bride’s wedding ring and eaten by the bridesmaids, will bring a husband within a year.

A piece of wedding cake should be put under the pillow of a maiden and if she dreams of a man, she will marry him within a year.

In some countries a plain gold ring is baked in the wedding cake and the maiden who gets the slice with the ring will have the privilege of proposing to a man of her choice.

Bridesmaids date from Anglo-Saxon times. It was the bridesmaid’s duty to escort the bride to church, and it was believed that the girl on whom this honor fell would be married within a year.

A bridesmaid who stumbles on the way to the altar will die an old maid.

Signs, Omens and Superstitions, Milton Goldsmith, 1918: p. 12-13

Three times a bridesmaid, never a bride, 1896

It is said when a bride retires to rest on her wedding night, that her bridesmaid should lay her stockings across, so as to assure her good luck.

If one of the bridesmaids stumbles, it carries evil luck to the bride.

When the bride goes from her seat to the altar, the bridesmaids must close up quickly, lest the seat grow cold, which is a sign the bride and groom’s love will quickly grow cold also.

If one of the bridegroom’s stockings, thrown by one of the bridesmaids, falls on the bridegroom’s head, it is a sign she will be married herself soon.

If a bridesmaid goes to bed backward, with her hand over her heart, and the first man she sees in the morning is an old man, she will marry before the year is out.

Encyclopaedia of Superstitions, Cora Linn Daniels, Charles McClellan Stevens, 1903

Mrs Daffodil wonders that, with so much responsibility to bear, anyone would accept such a weighty honour.

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.

Dressing the Bride: 1899

A PROFESSIONAL DRESSER OF BRIDES.

Miss Eleanor Burwell is a young woman who dresses brides. That is the way she makes her living, and a very good living at that.

The other day a friend of mine was married, and one morning, about two weeks before the eventful day, a card was sent up to her and I went down to see the caller, a Miss Burwell, whose name neither of us had ever heard before. She explained her business, and my friend engaged her.

Early on the morning of the wedding Miss Burwell appeared with her assistant. The entire trousseau, and, I might say, the bride, herself, was turned over to her. She first investigated the wedding outfit and saw that everything was as it should be.

She insisted on the bride’s remaining quietly in bed until 10 o’clock, the wedding not being until 5 o’clock in the afternoon. Then she had her out and tried on the wedding dress, gloves and slippers. Some alterations were necessary, a few stitches, and she took them. Next she turned her attention to packing the trunks, and in less than two hours the task was accomplished and a little book containing a complete inventory was put in the bride’s traveling bag. This inventory gave not only the list of articles but told exactly where they could be found. By this time the bride had finished her luncheon and was persuaded to take a nap and remain in bed until called by Miss Burwell, who, with her assistant, left the house to appear again promptly at 3:30 o’clock. Then a tepid bath was prepared; the bride awakened and while she was taking it they straightened up the room and laid out the bridal costume. The dressing of the bride was accomplished without the slightest hurry and in ample time. But best of all was the fresh, rosy face which shone through the bridal veil. It was so different from the haggard, nervous girl we all expected. She was not a bit tired or worried, and feeling that she was looking her very best, woman-like, she was supremely contented. Miss Burwell accompanied her to the church door, guarded against soiling her gown in the carriage, and gave the final touch to her veil and train as she entered.

After the ceremony she returned to the house, superintended the exchange of the bridal for the going-away gown, gave the final arrangements to the last trunk and the traveling bag; set the room to rights and left as quickly as the proverbial mouse.

The next day I saw her again and asked her to tell me about her work.

HOW MISS BURWELL BEGAN

 “I began four years ago,” she replied, “by dressing a friend of mine, and I thought her mother, who was a very delicate woman, would never get through thanking me. She said I was just the right person in the right place on such an occasion, and as I had left school and was on the lookout for something to do to earn a living, I decided to try dressing brides as a profession. I came to New York as our nearest big city and affording the largest field. Of course I had a few letters of introduction and a small amount of money, less than $50, in my pocket.

“My first customer was obtained through the minister to whom I had come with a letter of introduction. The bride was quite young and without a mother, so she depended on me entirely. Her trousseau, quite an elaborate one, had been prepared, but she was as nervous as a girl could very well be and keep her reason about her wedding day. I treated her just about as I did your friend, only she insisted on my coming to her for two days instead of one, and everybody complimented me on the results. Soon after I had another engagement with a girl out of town whose trousseau I helped to purchase. My work gave satisfaction, and since then I have had my hands full.

“Many of my customers wish me to assist them with their trousseau, that is in its selection and by seeing that the dressmakers and tailors give them perfect fits; others wish me to do just what I did for your friend, while there are some who require me only to dress them and arrange their veils. Of course a well-trained, competent maid could give her mistress much assistance on such an occasion, but my customers, as a rule, are not the very wealthy girls who can afford to keep such an attendant.

“While they pay me well for my services they do not feel that they can afford to keep expensive servants. Of course I am compelled to keep up with the latest styles, and for that purpose I spent two months in Paris last summer.  August and September are the poorest months in the year for weddings, while October, February and June are about the most popular. Often during these months I have as many as two brides a day to dress, and several times 1 could have had as many as four, but was obliged to refuse many engagements for want of time.

IT WOULD PAY OTHER WOMEN.

“Do I think it a work where other women can succeed? I see no reason why they should not. Here in New York there is certainly room for others, because, as I have just said, I have very often been compelled to refuse engagements. According to my observations there is a demand for just such a person, in all of our larger cities and a comfortable living to be earned. But the woman who undertakes it must be willing to perform her work not only as well as any one else, but she must do it just a little bit better. Many people can pack trunks very nicely, but I claim that no one can do it as well as I, nor can they drape a veil or place the bridal wreath as becomingly. I study and work out all the little details of every particular bride, and my time is entirely occupied, but I am well treated, well paid, live well and am saving money. So, naturally, I think my profession a good one.”

LAFAYETTE M. LAWS.

The Butte [MT] Miner 23 July 1899: p. 11

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire:  Mrs Daffodil has much admiration for Miss Burwell’s ingenuity in making a profession out of what had hitherto been an unpaid duty of the sisters or friends of the bride. Her packing and cataloguing of the bridal trunks was alone certainly worth her fee. (We have previously heard of professional trunk-packers.) But one wonders why a haggard, nervous bride was expected? One hopes it was merely prenuptial nerves and exhaustion rather than uncertainty over the wisdom of her choice of groom….

 

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.