Category Archives: Weddings

Encore: A Bashful Bridegroom: 1830s

Country Wedding, John Lewis Krimmel, 1820

A Bashful Bridegroom

Senator Sebastian, of Arkansas, was a native of Hickman county, Tenn. On one occasion a member of Congress was lamenting his bashful awkwardness. “Why,” said the

A Bashful Bridegroom

Senator Sebastian, of Arkansas, was a native of Hickman county, Tenn. On one occasion a member of Congress was lamenting his bashful awkwardness. “Why,” said the senator from Rackensack, “you don’t know what bashfulness is. Let me tell you a story, and when I get through I will stand the bob if you don’t agree that you never knew anything about bashfulness and its baneful effects. I was the most bashful boy west of the Alleghenies. I wouldn’t look at a girl, much less speak to a maiden; but for all that I fell desperately in love with a sweet, beautiful neighbor girl. It was a desirable match on both side, and the old folks saw the drift, and fixed it up. I thought I should die, just thinking of it. I was a gawky, awkward country lout about nineteen years old. She was an intelligent, refined and fairly well educated girl in a country and at a time when the girls had superior advantages, and were therefore superior in culture to the boys. I fixed the day as far as I could have put it off. I lay awake in a cold perspiration as the time drew near, and shivered with agony and thought of the terrible ordeal. The dreadful day came. I went through with the program somehow in a dazed, confused, mechanical sort of a way, like an automaton booby through a supper where I could eat nothing, and through such games as “Possum Pie,” “Sister Phoebe,” and all that sort of thing. The guests one by one departed, and my hair began to stand on end. Beyond the awful curtain of Isis lay the terrible unknown. My blood grew cold and boiled by turns. I was in a fever and then an ague, pale and flushed by turns. I felt like fleeing into the woods, spending the night in the barn, leaving for the west never to return. I was deeply devoted to Sallie. I loved her harder than mule can kick; but that terrible ordeal!—I could not, dare not stand it. Finally the last guest was gone, the bride retired, the family gone to bed, and I was left alone—horror of horrors, alone with the old man. “John,” said he, “you can take that candle, you will find your room just over this. Goodnight, John, and may the Lord have mercy on your soul,” and with a mischievous twinkle in his fine gray eye the old man left the room. I mentally said “Amen” to his “Heaven help you,” and when I heard him close a distant door, staggered to my feet and seized the farthing dip with nervous grasp. I stood for some minutes contemplating my terrible fate, and the inevitable and speedy doom about to overwhelm me. I knew that it could not be avoided, and yet I hesitated to meet my fate like a man. I stood so long that three love letters had grown in the wick of the tallow dip and a winding sheet was decorating the side of the brass candle-stick. A happy thought struck me. I hastily climbed the stair, marked the position of the landing, and the door of the bridal chamber. I would have died before I would have disrobed in that holy chamber, where awaiting me a trembling and beautiful girl, a blushing maiden, “clothed upon” with her own beauty and modesty, and her snowy robe de nuit. I would make the usual preparations without, blow out the light, open the door, and friendly night would shield my shrinking modesty and bashfulness and grateful darkness at least mitigate the horror of the situation. It was soon done. Preparations for retiring were few and simple in their character in Hickman, altogether consisting of disrobing, and owing to the scarcity of cloth in those days man was somewhere near the Adamic state when he was prepared to woo sweet sleep. The dreadful hour had come; I was ready. I blew out the light, grasped the door-knob with a deathly gripe and a nervous clutch; one moment and it would be over.

One moment and it wasn’t over by a d__n sight. I leaped within, and there around a glowing hickory fire, with candles brightly burning on the mantel and bureau, was the blushing bride, surrounded by the six lovely bridesmaids.”

The Fresno [CA] Republican 24 June 1882: p. 1

Mrs Daffodil really has nothing to add….

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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Autobiography of an Old Pair of Scissors: 1875

AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF AN OLD PAIR OF SCISSORS.

I was born in Sheffield, England, at the close of the last century, and was like all those who study Brown’s Shorter Catechism, made out of dust. My father was killed at Herculaneum at the time of the accident there, and buried with other scissors and knives and hooks and swords. On my mother’s side I am descended from a pair of shears that came to England during the Roman invasion. My cousin hung to the belt of a duchess. My uncle belonged to Hampton Court, and used to trim the king’s hair. I came to the United States while the grandfathers of the present generation of children were boys.

When I was young I was a gay fellow—indeed, what might have been called “a perfect blade.” I look old and rusty hanging here on the nail, but take me down, and though my voice is a little squeaky with old age, I can tell you a pretty tale. I am sharper than I look. Old scissors know more than you think. They say I am a little garrulous, and perhaps I may tell things I ought not.

I helped your grandmother prepare for her wedding. I cut out and fitted all the apparel of that happy day. I hear her scold the young folks now for being so dressy, but I can tell you she was once that way herself. Did not I, sixty years ago, lie on the shelf and laugh as I saw her stand by the half hour before the glass, giving an extra twist to her curl and an additional dash of white powder on her hair—now fretted because the powder was too thick, now fretted because it was too thin! She was as proud in cambric and calico and nankeen as Harriet is to-day in white tulle and organdy. I remember how careful she was when she ran me along the edges of the new dress. With me she clipped and notched and gored and trimmed, and day and night I went click! click! click! and it seemed as if she would never let me rest from cutting.

I split the rags for the first carpet on the old homestead, and what a merry time we had when the neighbours came to the “quilting!” I lay on the coverlet that was stretched across the quilting-frame, and heard all the gossip of 1799. Reputations were ripped and torn just as they are now. Fashions were chattered about, the coal-scuttle bonnet of some offensive neighbour (who was not invited to the quilting) was criticised, and the suspicion started that she laced too tight; and an old man who happened to have the best farm in the county was overhauled for the size of his knee-buckles, and the exorbitant ruffles on his shirt, and the costly silk lace to his hat. I lay so still that no one supposed I was listening. I trembled on the coverlet with rage, and wished that I could clip the end of their tattling tongues, but found no chance for revenge, till, in the hand, of a careless neighbour, I notched and nearly spoiled the patchwork.

Yes, I am a pair of old scissors. I cut out many a profile of old-time faces, and the white dimity bed-curtains. I lay on the stand when your grand-parents were courting—for that had to be done then as well as now—and it was the same story of chairs wide apart, and chairs coming nearer, and arm over the back of the chair, and late hours, and four or five gettings up to go with the determination to stay, protracted interviews on the front steps, blushes and kisses. Your great-grandmother, out of patience at the lateness of the hour, shouted over the banisters to your immediate grandmother, “Mary! come to bed!” Because the old people sit in the corner looking so very grave, do not suppose their eyes were never roguish, nor their lips ruby, nor their hair flaxen, nor their feet spry, nor that they always retired at half-past eight o’clock at night. After a while I, the scissors, was laid on the shelf, and finally thrown into a box among nails, and screws and files. Years of darkness and disgrace for a scissors so highly born as I. But one day I was hauled out. A bell tinkled in the street. An Italian scissors-grinder wanted a job. I was put upon the stone, and the grinder put his foot upon the treadle, and the bands pulled, and the wheel sped, and the fire flew, and it seemed as if, in the heat and pressure and agony, I should die. I was ground, and rubbed, and oiled, and polished, till I glittered in the sun and one day, when young Harriet was preparing for the season, I plunged into the fray. I almost lost my senses among the ribbons, and flew up and down among the flounces, and went mad amongst the basques. I move round as gay as when I was young; and modern scissors, with their stumpy ends, and loose pivots, and weak blades, and glaring bows, and coarse shanks, are stupid beside an old family piece like me. You will be surprised how spry I am flying around the sewing room, cutting corsages into heart-shape, and slitting a place for button-holes, and making double-breasted jackets, and hollowing scallops, and putting the last touches on velvet arabesques and Worth overskirts. I feel almost as well at eighty years of age as at ten, and I lie down to sleep at night amid all the fineries of the wardrobe, on olive-green cashmere, and beside pannier puffs, and pillowed on feathers of ostrich.

Oh, what a gay life the scissors live! I may lie on gayest lady’s lap, and little children like me better than almost anything else to play with. The trembling octogenarian takes me by the hand, and the rollicking four-year-old puts on me his dimpled fingers. Mine are the children’s curls and the bride’s veil. I am welcomed to the Christmas-tree, and the sewing-machine, and the editor’s table. I have cut my way through the ages. Beside pen, and sword, and needle, I dare to stand anywhere, indispensable to the race, the world-renowned scissors.

But I had a sad mission once. The bell tolled in the New. England village because a soul had passed. I sat up all the night cutting the pattern for a shroud. Oh, it was gloomy work. There was wailing in the house, but I could not stop to mourn. I had often made the swaddling-clothes for a child, but that was the only time I fashioned a robe for the grave. To fit it around the little neck, and make the sleeves just long enough for the quiet arms—it hurt me more than the tilt-hammers that smote me in Sheffield, than the files of the scissor’s-grinder at the door. I heard heart-strings snap as I went through the linen, and in the white pleats to be folded over the still heart I saw the snow banked on a grave. Give me, the old scissors, fifty bridal dresses to make rather than one shroud to prepare.

I never recovered from the chill of those dismal days, but at the end of life I can look back and feel that I have done my work well. Other scissors have frayed and unravelled the garments they touched, but I have always made a clean path through the linen or the damask I was called to divide. Others screeched complainingly at their toil; I smoothly worked my jaws. Many of the fingers that wrought with me have ceased to open and shut, and my own time will soon come to die, and I shall be buried in a grave of rust, amid cast-off tenpenny nails and horseshoes. But I have stayed long enough to testify, first, that these days are no worse than the old ones, the granddaughter now no more proud than the grandmother was; secondly, that we all need to be hammered and ground in order to take off the rust; and thirdly, that an old scissors, as well as an old man, may be scoured up and made practically useful.

Around the tea-table, Thomas De Witt Talmage, 1875: pp 50-52

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: It is a little strange to find a useful household article so sententious, boastful, and sentimental—all at the same time, but there was a 19th-century vogue for these whimsical first-person “autobiographies” of inanimate objects as we have seen previously in the life-stories of a corset and an old needle-book. In the current era, when nearly everything from fashion to spouses is disposable, one wonders what objects will be left to sell their stories to the tabloids?

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 Cashmere Shawl: 1840

 

[From the London Journals.]

THE CASHMERE SHAWL

Everybody knows the vast importance which our Parisian belles formerly attached to the possession of a cashmere shawl; and although their value is considerably decreased since the Empress Josephine gave fifteen thousand francs for one, they are still objects of desire to all female hearts; I mean married ones, of course, for the cashmere is rarely worn by a demoiselle, at least until she begins to despair of ever being called Madame. Indeed, these shawls play a very important part in matrimonial arrangements; many a match has been brought about by the lady’s impatience to possess them, and many a ménage has been rendered unhappy by a husband’s obstinate refusal to buy one. I do not, however, recollect any adventure in which the cashmere has played so singular a part as the one I am about to narrate.

Monsieur de M. began some time ago, notwithstanding his large fortune and very handsome person, to be set down by his acquaintance as a decided old bachelor; this opinion might be thought too hastily formed, as he was only thirty-six, had not his mode of living given color to it—for it was well known that he did not spend half his income; and he would certainly have been set down as a miser, had not circumstances revealed that instead of hoarding his riches, he dispensed them in charity, but it was charity without ostentation. He mixed in the world, enjoyed its pleasures with moderation, was generally liked, and when at last determined upon committing matrimony, his proposal for Mademoiselle de V. was warmly received by her widowed mother, a perfect woman of the world, who had for some time had her eye upon him, and spread her net by a skillful exhibition of those qualities in herself and daughter, which, though they were very far from possessing, she knew he would look for in a wife. The bait took, to her great joy; for she almost began to despair of getting a match for Sophie, whose own fortune was too small to entitle her to a good one, and who being all of twenty-four, was fast verging on what we in France consider an old maidenism.

The young lady had played her part so well that, without it at all transgressing the rules of propriety, De M. had reason to believe his proposal would be perfectly agreeable to her before he made it to her mamma; his explicitness on one point was, however, far from pleasing to either lady; that was his intention of devoting the same amount as usual to charitable purposes, in which he had no doubt he should be assisted by his dear Sophie. A few timid words of acquiescence from the young ladies, and an eloquent harangue from mamma on the pleasure it must give her daughter to participate in his benevolent plants, settled the matter to De M.’s great delight.

The preliminaries of the marriage were arranged—De M.’s family jewels, which were really very handsome, were sent to be new mounted, and he requested his belle fiancée to make choice of a cashmere. No task could be more agreeable to the fair one, who showed that her taste was equally elegant and magnificent, for she selected a superb long shawl, bleu turquoise ground, and a border of matchless beauty. Nothing could be handsomer, but unfortunately, there was one objection that the bridegroom elect could not get over—it was double the price he intended to give.

Now here I find myself in a strait. I wish to please all my readers, and if I mention De M’s price, I have no doubt that some of the gentler sex will say, “Oh, now mean!” while several of those in unmentionables will call him an extravagant fellow. In order then to avoid drawing upon my hero the displeasure of any party, I shall avoid specifying the sum, and shall, merely, in justice to him, declare that the price he intended to give, would be considered by the generality of the people as a handsome one. He requested Sophie to make choice of another, and several were shown to her, but she had some decided objection to each; and in spite of the significant looks, and even hints of her mother, she shewed so much ill temper and ill nature, that she fairly frightened away all the little cupids that were dancing about the heart of her intended; in  short, the cashmere was not chosen that morning, and the evening brought not the devoted lover, but a letter, in which he made his adieu in a very decided manner.

We have no trials in France for breach of promise; but I think even in England the ladies would not, all the circumstances of the case considered, have got damages, unless indeed she was allowed to have a female jury. The matter passed off, and De M., perfectly recovered from his love fit, went on his usual quiet way for some time.

One morning he called on an old woman, to whom he had been a constant benefactor for some years, and as he mounted to her dwelling on the fourth story, a lady passed him on the stairs, plainly dressed, and with a black veil down. As he made way for her respectfully, he observed that her figure, though petite, was elegant, and her features, from the slight glimpse he had of them, agreeable. On entering Manette’s apartment, he found her in tears, and a handsome cashmere shawl lying on a chair.

“What is the matter, my poor Manette?” cried he, in a pitying tone. “What are you crying for?”

“Oh, it is nothing, Sir,” said the old woman, wiping her eyes; “there is nothing amiss, indeed.”

“But what are you in tears for?”

“Why I could not help crying while I was telling poor Jeannette’s story to that dear good lady, Madame de ___.”

My readers will easily believe that De M. insisted upon hearing Jeannette’s story, which we shall tell more briefly than Manette did. She was a friend of the old woman, recently left a widow with several small children, reduced by the death of her husband to the greatest distress, she was in danger of perishing for want, when an offer was made her, if she could raise six hundred francs, of going into a business that would support both her and her children creditably. “But,” continued Manette, “where could she raise six hundred francs? Bah! One might as well have asked her a million; and so I said to Madame de__ who found me crying just as Jeannette left me.”

“Don’t say that, Manette,” cried she, “we shall make up the money somehow. I have very little by me now, but I think you could sell this shawl for that, or at any rate for nearly as much, and I will make up the rest,” and before I could say a word, Monsieur, she had thrown off her beautiful shawl, and telling me to do the best I could with it, and to let her know as soon as it was sold, she hurried away just as you came.”

“What an excellent creature!”

“Excellent indeed! I don’t believe there is her equal in the world. Why, Monsieur, though she is young, aye and very pretty and lively too, she thinks of nothing but doing good. You would not believe how sparingly she lives, and how many things she denies herself, that she may have it in her power to assist the unfortunate.”

My readers will not be surprised that De M. bought the shawl, first swearing Manette to secrecy. His next step was to obtain an introduction to Madame de ___, who was still a young and really very petty widow. He declares that he had no other intention of doing so than to form a friendship with a woman of a congenial mind, but—“Friendship with woman is sister to love.”

And so it proved in this case, for within three months the well-assorted pair were united. When he purchased the shawl, it was with the intention of sending it back to her anonymously, but he delayed doing so for some time, lest through it his share of the affair might be discovered, and he lose the pleasure of her acquaintance. When he sent the usual marriage presents, there was no cashmere among them. Whatever the widow thought of the omission, she said nothing about it, but on the very evening before the ceremony was performed, he asked her to choose one, which she did; and this time he had no fault to find with his fiancée on the score of extravagance. The morning after marriage he said to her, as they were seated at breakfast.

“Were you not surprised, chere amie, that you did not sooner receive your cashmere?”

I thought you had forgotten it.”

“No, I delayed out of prudence, that you might not have an opportunity of selling it.”

At these words Amelie’s face became scarlet!

“Dearest! Best beloved!” cried the happy husband, unsealing a packet, and presenting the shawl—“receive again the offering you made to charity; an offering dear and sacred in my eyes, for it has led to a felicity which I despaired of finding—that of a wife whose heart was in perfect unison with my own.”

And so in truth it is, and will I hope remain, notwithstanding that the acquaintance—the female part of it, I mean—of Madame de M. thinks she pays a very bad compliment to her husband’s present; for while his rich cadeau de Noces is seldom seen on her shoulders, she is observed to be excessively fond of a cashmere that she was known to have some time before her second marriage, and which is very inferior to the one De M. presented her with.

The Gloucester [MA] Telegraph 25 December 1841: p. 6

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire:  The cashmere shawl, indeed, had the power to transform lives. Mrs Daffodil has written before about the plague carried in a cashmere, and how the Empress Josephine’s life was “saved by a shawl.” We have also seen delectable descriptions of the cadeau de Noces of an aristocratic French bride, in which she tells of her delight that her fiancé was thoughtful enough to give a red-ground cashmere to her dear mamma.

Monsieur de M. is to be congratulated on his good sense in making his adieu so decidedly. Mrs Daffodil shudders to think of what perils would have marked his married life: extravagance, recriminations, forged notes, money-lenders, and, perhaps, scandal, divorce, or even murder. One need only examine the ending chapters of Madame Bovary to see what the harvest might have been, had it not been for a cashmere shawl….

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.

 

Home from the Wedding Tour: 1902

The Wedding Tour.

“So you are back from your wedding trip, Beth,” said Beatrice, cordially. “Did you have a pleasant time?”

“An unusual one, at least,” replied Beth. “At least I hope so. I should hate to think my experience could be repeated in every town where my husband ever lived when he was a bachelor.”

“Go on, dear!” exclaimed Beatrice. “This sounds interesting.”

“First,” Beth began, “let me give you some advice. Never visit in a town where your husband, when you have one, is well-acquainted and you are not, especially if you hail from a city like Chicago. The inhabitants never forgive a man who ignores the village girls to marry a non-native—or, rather, they never forgive the designing creature who permits him to throw himself away on her. They always pity him from the bottom of their hearts, for they feel sure that he was deeply attached to Susan Smith or Betsey Jones. There is never any doubt in their minds that the bold, scheming city girl ‘roped him in,’ as they say.”

“Mercy! How could they say such a thing of you, of all girls?”

“Well, one day shortly after we reached this former home of Ted’s we went, just for exercise, down to the railway station with Ted’s brother Jack, who was going to the next town for a day on business. The train was a half hour late, and the boys went outside to smoke and chat, while I was soon deeply interested in a magazine that I had just bought. Presently three pretty, rosy-looking girls came in, all laughing and talking at once. You know every one who happens to be downtown within an hour or so of train time has to go to the station to see the train come in. These girls seated themselves on the bench nearest the window overlooking the platform, and I settled back to meditate loftily on the narrowness of the life those girls led.

“But my meditations were doomed to come to a sudden end, at least along that particular line, for as Ted and Jack sauntered past the window with their heads well down and enjoying a good, old-fashioned visit, one girl, whom the others called Blanche, exclaimed, ‘If there isn’t Ted Fowler!’ I felt a little indignation at the familiar tone she used. That indignation grew steadily for a few moments in view of the fact that those girls sat there admiring and praising him—giggling and blushing over my own Teddy.

“’Did you know he was married?’ asked one of the three, whose name appeared to be Edith..

“’Yes, poor fellow,’ replied the third girl. ‘Too bad, too! You know he was dead in love with Blanche. Wasn’t he, Blanche?’

“I hoped Blanche would deny this and ease my mind, for she was undeniably a very pretty girl and might have been quite a witch in her own way. But she only said, modestly. ‘Oh, yes, I suppose he was. He used to tell me so often enough, goodness knows!’

“‘How ever could you endure it?’ asked Beatrice.

“Endure it! Why I was simply speechless with rage by that time. My Teddy telling any other girl that he loved her and that ‘often enough, goodness knows’ just kept going round and round in my mind. I could have cried with disappointment in Teddy.

“But that isn’t all. Edith volunteered the information that Ted had married, ‘an awful extravagant thing and ugly as mud.’ Then, probably aided by the expression on my face, it seemed to strike them that I was the extravagant, ugly thing. I suppose I answered the description accurately.

“‘Two of them were really very much embarrassed by the discovery, but Blanche tossed her pretty head in a saucy fashion that seemed to maintain that it was true just the same.

“I feel sure I should have said something then had it not been for Teddy, who opened the door and asked me if I was finding it dull. ‘Oh, no,’ I said. ‘I have just been admiring the only girl you ever loved.’ Ted glanced at the girls, then laughed and said, ‘You must have found a mirror in this dingy old place.’ And, would you believe it, he didn’t even remember Blanche, who claimed to be his long lost love.”

“Ted is wonderfully discreet,” said Beatrice, softly.

The Leavenworth [KS] Times 2 September 1902: p. 7

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: What would a wedding tour be without some sort of misadventure to relate humorously to one’s children and grand-children? See these posts: Shuffling Off to Buffalo, A Honeymoon Adventure, and Pants and All, She’s Still my Wife for more honeymoon calamities.

Mrs Daffodil hopes that “Teddy” continued to be as discreet throughout a long and happy married life with his rage-filled bride.

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.

 

“They had a little job they wanted me to do:” A wedding story: 1870s

unknown artist; Newlyweds; The American Museum in Britain; http://www.artuk.org/artworks/newlyweds-40963

 

A WEDDING EXPERIENCE

By a Frontier Missionary

He was of Quaker extraction and education. But during the border troubles he had “fallen from the grace” of non-resistance, and had been “dropped from the roll.” He was therefore no longer in “good and regular standing” in that communion—if that can be called a “communion” where they do not observe the communion. He retained, however, very much of the plainness and bluntness and downright honesty for which that people are proverbial. Everybody knew him and everybody respected him, as an industrious, plain-spoken, honest man. He owned a fine farm three miles from town, where he lived with a family who helped him to carry it on. His farm was devoted mostly to the dairy business. He also had an ice house, and supplied the heated denizens of the city with that luxury. He was a bachelor, and it was the general opinion that whatever else he fell from he would surely illustrate the “ perseverance of the saints” in this. But his friends were reckoning without their host in this matter, or rather without their hostess. In fact, they did not know that there was a hostess to be counted in.

One day he drove up to my door on his way home. He wanted to know “if I still kept up my Sabbath afternoon appointment at the schoolhouse west of his place, and, if so, at what time I should pass his house on my way home.” I replied that “I still kept up the appointment, and should return past his house about five o’clock.” “He did not want to put me to any trouble, but if I could as well as not, he wished I would call in as I passed. They had a little job they wanted me to do.” I guessed at once what was wanted, and told him I would surely call.

So the next Sabbath, about five o’clock, I turned up the lane that led to his house, tied my horse to the fence, and went to the door. I was admitted by the housekeeper and seated. The house-work was going on just as usual—just as in any farmhouse—and I was received just as any stranger would be. There were evidently no unusual preparations going on. I asked for my friend.

“He was out in the yard milking. Should they call him?” I replied “I could wait, but I wanted to see him.” I began to feel a little cheap about the blunder I had made in supposing it was a wedding I was called to. Had it been some men, I should have suspected it was a hoax. But I knew my friend had too much respect for me to play a joke on me in such a matter, so I supposed it must be something he wanted to consult me about and I had entirely misunderstood him. In a few minutes he came in. He was in his shirt sleeves and overalls, and was carrying a brimming pail of milk. He set the milk in the pantry, and the “women folks” proceeded to strain it. He greeted me very heartily, “was sorry to detain me, but would soon be ready.” He then introduced me to a bright looking young woman whom I had noticed before, and presented her as the expectant bride. With that they two disappeared in different directions, and I was alone again. In a few minutes they returned, neatly dressed, and announced themselves as “ready.” I stripped the ceremony of all needless ornament, and made it as businesslike as possible, so as to correspond with the surroundings. The house was quiet during the service, but there was no gathering of the family in the room, and the interruption to the regular course of affairs was very brief indeed. I caught the business-like spirit of the occasion, and excused myself and departed. As I mounted my horse and turned down the lane I saw the new made bridegroom emerge from the house, reclad in the overalls before mentioned, and carrying the aforesaid milk pail, and going out towards the barn to finish “that milking.” The cows had probably never known such an interruption before. They had been kept waiting not less than twenty minutes. No doubt they wanted “dreadfully” to ask him what the matter was. But I doubt if ever there was a wedding in which less precious time was wasted, and where the regular course of events was less disturbed.

The coolest part of the proceedings is yet to be mentioned. After the ceremony the bridegroom came up, and in a frank, business-like way spoke of the fee. He said “if it would be just as satisfactory to me, he would like to give me my summer’s ice.” This was “perfectly satisfactory to me,” as it was quite a liberal sum, and the coolness of the operation was quite refreshing. No artist could have finished the picture better. There would have been an incompleteness without this final touch. With this added, the whole scene seems like an inspiration of genius.

New Outlook, Volume 14, edited by Alfred Emanuel Smith, Francis Walton, 1876: p. 196

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: Such insouciant nuptials were more the exception than the rule, but here is another:

WEDDING IN PIT BOTTOM

Man Hadn’t Time to Come to Surface, So Bride Descends and Ceremony Is Performed.

South Paris, Me., “Come up out of the pit and be married,” shouted Miss Alena Wantman to Andrew Lakestrom, who was drilling at the bottom of a stone quarry, 200 feet below the earth’s surface.

“I can’t spare the time,” the man shouted back. “I need the money.”

The couple had been engaged a long time. Miss Wantman sent a messenger to Rev. W.M. Strout, and when he arrived the two went to the bottom of the quarry. Lakestrom slipped a sweater over his working jacket, and while the other workmen stood around as witnesses, the ceremony was performed.

“Nothing like making a man do as he agrees,” said Mrs. Lakestrom, as she and the preacher got back to the top of the earth. Lakestrom continued work during the night.

The News-Herald [Hillsboro, OH] 1 June 1905: p. 6

Mrs Daffodil can only wish the couples much joy. It seems a case of exalting “sense” over “sensibility,” but costly and sentimental ceremonies do not necessarily make for happy unions. Our worthy  Vicar has stated (in confidence) that he has observed that the larger the wedding party, the shorter 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 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 Widow’s Wedding Dress: 1877-1916

A widow’s wedding dress in the dreaded pearl grey, 1879 http://art.famsf.org/widows-wedding-dress-54076

The other bride wore black, being, as Virginie explained to us, a widow carrying the mourning for her defunct husband up to the last possible moment—a touching devotion to his memory, is it not?

The New York Times 26 August 1877: p. 3

AT A WIDOW’S WEDDING

Etiquette Which Governs This Highly momentous Event.

Etiquette governing the wedding of a widow has been recently reorganized and temporarily, at least, is finding high vogue among certain great ladies who are making second matrimonial ventures. The widow’s engagement ring is now a peridot, which in reality is an Indian chrysolite, and a deep leaf-green in color. The peridot ring is set about with diamonds, and when it arrives the lady gives her first engagement ring to her eldest daughter and her wedding ring to her eldest son.

One week before the wedding a stately luncheon is given to the nearest and dearest of the old friends of the bride to be. After the engagement’s announcement, she appears at no public functions. At the altar her dress may be of any subdued shade of satin. To make up for the absence of veil and orange blossoms, profusions of white lace trim the skirt and waist of the bridal gown en secondes noces. Even the bonnet is of white lace and the bouquet is preferably of white orchids. An up the aisle the lady goes, hand in hand with her youngest child, no matter whether it is a boy or girl. The little one wears an elaborate white costume, holds the bride’s bouquet, and precedes the newly married pair to the church door. Where there is a large family of children and a desire on the widow’s part for a trifle more display than is usually accorded on such occasions, all of her daughters, in light gowns and bearing big bouquets, support their mother to the altar.

An informal little breakfast now follows the ceremony. Such a breakfast is scarcely more than a light, simple luncheon, served from the buffet, wound up by a wedding cake, and a toasting posset, but the bride of a second marriage does not distribute cake nor her bouquet among her friends. Her carriage horses do not wear favors, either, though shoes and rice can be freely scattered in her wake, and, to the comfort and economy of her friends, she does not expect anything elaborate in the way of wedding gifts. N.Y. Sun.

Jackson [MI] Citizen Patriot 27 May 1896: p. 5

Subdued colours and muted joy seem to have been the order of the day for most second marriages. Travelling costumes covered a multitude of sins.

SECOND MARRIAGE

What Fashion Prescribes for a Widow’s Bridal Gown.

The Revolution in Etiquette Which Permits White Silk and Orange Blooms to a Widow Who Stands Before the Altar for the Second Time

A change comes o’er the spirit of our dreams. There’s nothing short of a revolution in progress in the etiquette of second marriages.

The color gray, it is against its deadly zinc tones that the arms of the rebels are directed.

Powerful has it been to avenge the spinster on the pretty widow who dared to lead a fresh captive in chains.

I’d wager three yards of pearl gray silk that more than one bridegroom has felt the love glamour fading into common light of every day before the subdued tones, the decorous reminiscent festivities of a second marriage…

I’d wager three yards again the Hamlet’s mother stood up with the wicked uncle in a pearl gray gown frightfully trying to her complexion and that bad as he was he repented the murder when he looked on her. She had no bridesmaids, of course. There were no orange blossoms, and she hid her blushes under no maiden veil. She still wore the ring of her first marriage, and when they came to the proper point in the second ceremony, his fingers touched it, reminding him of ghosts, as he slipped another just like it to be its mate on the same finger. She wore a bonnet probably and thoroughly correct cuffs and collar. It’s possible that she avoided comparisons with the gayeties of her first wedding by eschewing distinctly bridal robes altogether, and gowning herself from head to foot in travelling costume. Unless she had the genius to seek this refuge she was all in half tones, not sorrowful, but as if having emerged from grief, she was yet unable to again taste joy….A traveling dress as a costume for a second marriage saves too many embarrassments as to questions of toilet to fall out of favor these many years. A widow who remarries wears or does not wear, as she chooses, her first wedding ring at the second ceremony. Two or three years ago she usually retained it. Now she oftener takes it off.

[The balance of the article discusses wearing white and bridal flowers in defiance of Mrs Grundy as well as the toilettes of some recent widow-brides.]

Plain Dealer [Cleveland OH] 17 February 1889: p. 12

A widow-bride might also wear half mourning, as in this purple and black gown, c. 1885-89 http://theclothingproject.tumblr.com/

WIDOW’S WEDDING LORE.

It may not be well known, but there is a peculiar etiquette attaching to the ceremony of a woman’s second wedding.

It is possible for her, should circumstances permit, to marry as often as she chooses, but only once in her life is she allowed to carry orange blossoms. This is when she stands at the altar for the first time. On the same principle, it is not correct for a widow to wear white at her second marriage ceremony. Cream, grey, heliotrope—indeed, any color she prefers—is permissible.

The bride of experience also should never wear a long bridal veil with or without a bonnet. Neither is she allowed to wear a wreath on the short veil which etiquette permits her to don. She may, however, carry a bouquet, but this should not be composed of white flowers. It is considered better taste for her to match the colour of her wedding-gown with the floral decorations.

The “bridesmaid” of a widow also is not called a bridesmaid, but a “maid of honor.” Her duties, however, are exactly similar to those of the former, though her title is different.

Rodney and Otamatea Times, Waitemata and Kaipara Gazette 19 March 1913: p. 2

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire:

There was a heated controversy over whether widows were ever entitled to wear white en secondes noces. Some said, “yes,” while banning the veil and the orange blossoms (1889); others said only heavy white fabrics such as velvets and brocades were acceptable (1889); while others delicately suggested pale, half-mourning colours (1916).  As we have read above, the “deadly zinc tones” were not universally pleasing. This gown, however, sounds quite lovely:

A widow’s bridal-gown, of palest violet satin trimmed with sable. An infinitesimal toque of silver passementerie and ivory satin is worn on the head. Demorest’s Family Magazine January 1895: p. 186

The most sensitive point of etiquette had been settled by the early 20th century:

Above all [a widow] should not wear the ring of her first husband. That should be taken off and locked away. The second happy man doesn’t want to be reminded of Number One more often than is necessary. Wanganui Chronicle 9 August 1913: p. 4

For more on etiquette for widows, see The Victorian Book of the Dead, which is also available in a Kindle edition.

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.

Encore: The Indiscreet Trousseau of an American Bride: 1870

A wedding gown from 1870.

[Originally published in 2013]

THE BUTLER-AMES WEDDING.

The Trousseau of an American Bride.

[Mrs Daffodil omits the lengthy description of the importance of the match, the charms of the bride and the accomplishments of the groom.]

THE TROUSSEAU

Nearly all the bridal outfit was ordered abroad, and was selected and made under the supervision of Mrs. Webster, the sister of Mrs. Butler. Everything is very elegant, and neither pains nor expense has been spared to make the trousseau as complete as possible. Among the things that were sent were.

One dozen robes de nuit trimmed with Valenciennes; one dozen [sic] robes de nuit trimmed with French work; one dozen sets under-clothing with Valenciennes bands and edges; one dozen sets under-clothing with French embroidered bands and edges; one dozen embroidered cambric combing jackets; one dozen corset covers trimmed with Valenciennes and French embroidery; one-half dozen embroidered flannel underskirts; one dozen cambric skirts for walking dresses; one dozen cambric skirts for train dresses; one dozen pair silk stockings; one dozen pair Lisle-thread stockings; two dozen pair Balbriggan stockings; three pair slippers; two dozen pair white kid gloves, six buttons; one dozen pair light shade kid gloves, three buttons; one dozen pair dark shade kid gloves, three button; four sets French flowers, six fans, five hats, six white cambric dresses, one white French muslin with train, six embroidered muslin jackets, two point lace handkerchiefs, one dozen Valenciennes handkerchiefs, one dozen French embroidered handkerchiefs, two dozen hem-stitched (with initial) handkerchiefs, point lace overskirt and flounce half yard deep, Duchesse lace overskirt and flounce half yard deep, point lace shawl, two Llama lace jackets, four parasols, six suits.

Everything is in the most perfect taste, and, like all French things, exquisitely and daintily made. There is nothing stiff or set-looking, but it seems almost as though the things were tossed together and held by invisible thread. The laces are of the finest and the embroidery of the most delicate. Assuredly no princess royal could have daintier or more elegant things than this young American bride. There is a coquettish grace about everything that in some way suggests the wearer. The jaunty little jackets, with relief of lavender, blue, or green running through the embroidery, the stylish hats and the coquettish parasols—everything is Parisian in the extreme. The suits are very stylish and pretty.

Among the most markedly striking is the travelling suit of China silk of the new tea rose shade ecru. The lower skirt is trimmed with deep ruffles and puffs, and in length just touches the floor and the back, and reaches to the instep in front, just clearing the foot. The over-skirt is rather long and quite bouffant, trimmed with ruffles of the same and a Cluny lace, an inch and a half in width, exactly the shade of the dress. The jacket is a graceful, half-fitting affair, with loose sleeves, trimmed to correspond with the upper skirt. A fall of Valenciennes lace is fastened into the sleeve, and drops over the hand.

The hat is a jaunty little soft-crowned thing, made of the same material as the dress, of a nondescript shape, utterly unlike anything yet seen in America, and is trimmed with green ribbon, plaited quite full around the crown, and completely covering the very narrow brim. A rosette is placed at the left side, and that constitutes the whole trimming. It is very simple and girlish, and exceedingly becoming to the face of the wearer.

The boots, too, are like the dress, with square, rather broad toes and high heels, nearly in the middle of the foot. The boot is lower than those that have been worn for two or three years past, being only about seven inches in height. They are buttoned with tiny gilt buttons.

The parasol is quite a new idea, and is what young ladies call “perfectly stunning.” The handle, which is quite heavy, and covered with green Russia leather, forms a walking stick. The head is a horse-shoe of French gilt, which surrounds a tiny looking glass. The shade is of ecru China silk, lined with green, and ornamented with heavy ecru cord and tassel. The fan is of sandal-wood and ecru silk, with the monogram B.B. painted on it in green.

There is a lovely black silk suit made with only one skirt, trimmed with three quite broad ruffles pinked on the edges. The jaunty little coat is trimmed with deep fringe, with the finest Valenciennes at wrist and throat. The hat is of black thread lace, with a moss rose and half open bud at the left side. The fan is very elegant; the sticks are gilt, and the upper part of the fan of black satin, beautifully ornamented. A lovely necklace accompanies this suit. It consists of flat pieces of jet about an inch square and fastened together by heavy links of gold. There are three pendants of jet and gold, very unique and elegant.

Another lovely suit has an under-skirt of heavy purple silk, trimmed with one deep ruffle and a puff. The overdress is of a cream shade of Canton crepe. The skirt is quite long, and much looped at back and sides. It has no trimming, but is simply pointed and bound with the same material. The jacket matches, and has loose sleeves. The hat is purple silk, covered entirely with point lace, with a bunch of heliotrope at the extreme left side.

But a blue silk suit in artistic perfection and grace puts all the rest in the shade. The lower skirt is of quite a dark shade, trimmed with a ruffle and double puffs, with a braid of the dark silk lined with three shades lighter.

The overskirt is of the lighter shade trimmed with a heavy fringe of the same shade, which, instead of being made and sewed in, is knotted into the silk. The jacket is a still lighter shade, and is trimmed with the braid of the two other shades of silk. The hat is of white chip bound with black velvet, and trimmed with bands of white uncut velvet and a long ostrich plume, passing over the top of the hat and falling over the hair. The fan is of carved ivory and white ilk, with delicate rosebuds painted on it. The parasol is very lovely; the handle is white carved coral, the shade of white heavy silk, lined with a brighter silk, with a fringe of marabou feathers. The laces are exquisite, the point overdress and flounce being of the finest texture and most delicate pattern. The handkerchiefs are gossamer, and airy enough for the queen of the fairies.

THE BRIDAL DRESS

This is one of the most elegant dresses that could be worn on such an occasion, and is of white relours silk. It was made with a court train, a puffing of tulle passed around the bottom of the skirt, and on this is placed the flounce of Duchesse lace. The overdress of Duchesse was worn with it.

The long tulle veil is fastened on with the most delicate orange blossoms that formed a sort of coronet in front and fell drooping over the lace in sprays of buds and leaves. The fan is of pearl and point lace, with the bride’s monogram beautifully wrought in the lace. No bride has ever had a more beautiful or complete trousseau than Miss Butler, and it must be a very unreasonable one who would ask for anything more lovely.

Evening Post [New York, NY] 23 July 1870: p. 4

EXTREME SNOBBERY.— The description of the wedding outfit of Miss Butler, married to General Ames, comes under this head. It is the first time that we have ever seen any allusion to the undergarments of a young lady about to be married, and who furnished the list. Imagine the reporter— no doubt, standing by, with pencil and paper in hand— superintending the counting of the stockings, nightgowns, underclothing, corsets, corset covers, combing jackets, and skirts! There must have been some articles coming under the head of etceteras, for we do not see any mention of bifurcated garments. And how particular about the gloves! The anxiety there must have been that he got the proper number of buttons on each glove correct. We approve of the Balbriggan stockings, for we know they are a good article. But don’t let us lose sight of the gloves: Two dozen pairs of white kid gloves, six buttons; one dozen pair of light shade kid gloves, three buttons; one dozen pair of dark shade kid gloves, three buttons. Two buttons and one button must be vulgar; so, in future, we shall none of them. One dozen nightgowns trimmed with Valenciennes, and one dozen trimmed with French work, is a pretty fair allowance. One dozen combing jackets is about right, but two dozen corset covers is, we think, too liberal. We cannot devote more space to this nonsense. We can only regret that a Senator and Representative of Congress would consent to such an exposure. We must not neglect to state that the articles were all made in Paris. There was not talent enough in this country to make a trousseau for an American lady. How different is the description of the marriage of the Earl of Derby. Perfectly modest, inasmuch as no mention is made of a trousseau, let alone stockings, combing jackets, and corset covers; and it may be a piece of information to snobs in general to state that the earl and his groomsman wore frock coats at the marriage. In republican America such a garment would have been frowned upon. Godey’s Lady’s Book October, 1870

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: 2,500 guests were invited to the wedding, including General and Mrs. Grant, who sent their regrets. Delightful as the white carved coral parasol handle sounds, reading such vulgarities as “neither pains nor expense has been spared,” Mrs Daffodil is inclined to agree with the satirical author of the second item. It is one thing to describe items such as fans or parasols or even walking suits. At a time when ladies were ideally mentioned in the papers only at birth, marriage, and death, this public inventory of intimate garments seems in dubious taste.  It caused much comment and censure in the press.  To be fair, it is the ostentation one would expect from a bride whose mother was an actress prior to her 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 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.