Tag Archives: brides

Marriage a la Mode: Three Would-be Brides: 1730, 1778, 1820

An 1824 wedding gown. From the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

An 1824 wedding gown. From the Metropolitan Museum of Art.


JULY, 1730.

Extracts from the Diary of my Great-grandmother.

Five o’clock.— Got up an hour before my usual time to distil surfeit-water. Said my prayers. Finished one of my father’s new shirts. Mem. To send to town for some currants, raisins, and ratafia water. Six .— Some poor women came for medicine to my mother; gave out of the store-room several doses, and a pint of sack. Mem. To carry two shillings to Tom, the carpenter’s wife, who is ill. Seven. — Breakfasted. A card has come from Mr. Jenkins, to let us know he will do himself the pleasure of dining with us. The match debated during breakfast. My father says, if he finds him a man of good morals, he’ll not differ as to the settlements. I am ordered never to be alone with Mr. J. until all the writings are drawn. Eight.— Read the Psalms and chapters for the day. Taught little Jemmy his catechism. Mem. Betsey has marked J. in her sampler to-day: that stands for Jenkins. Nine.— Darn some old point-lace tuckers. Do some clear-starching and ironing for next week. Ten.— Go see the carpenter’s wife. Her family in very great want. Give them a shilling from my own pocket-money. Eleven .— Sit down to my cross-stitch. A shepherdess the subject, for an urn-rug. Twelve.— My mother orders me to make a custard-pudding, to show Mr. Jenkins what I can do. Orders me to wear my best gown at dinner, and only two patches. Mem. I mean to appear in my new hoop and laced stomacher. Mr. J. is a man of figure, so will look to my appearance. One.— Too much ratafia water in the pudding. Mr. J. praised some hare of my potting. I begin to like him vastly well, but must not let him perceive it. Mem. Our currant wine just out. Mislaid the key of the corner-cupboard. Thinking of Mr. J. Two.— Miss T. and her lover stepped in to tea. Promise her receipt for pickling mushrooms. Mem. Mrs. Hart’s receipt for burns very good. Must have it in the house. Garlick syrup excellent for coughs. Eight. — Supper. My brother tells me Mr. Jenkins is very wild. Mem. Never to see his face again!

A 1779 wedding gown

A 1779 wedding gown


Notes from my Grandmother’s Pocket Diary.

Two o’clock.— Arrived this moment in town. We have been three days coming from S—– in our own coach. Just put off my riding-dress, and huddled on my green gown, to get to the milliner’s, mercer’s, &c. Overjoyed to be in town; so have no appetite for my dinner. Four.— Going out with Miss Tendrill. She tells me coque de perle necklace and ear-rings are much in vogue. Mem. To teaze my mother until she gets them for me. Arrive at Truefit’s. N. B. Truefit the first modeste in the world. Ordered a cane hat, lined with cerulean blue Persian, trimmed with blonde lace and ribbons, for walking in the Park, and making morning calls. Mem. Must bespeak two pairs of white leather shoes, with red heels, and bindings to correspond. Advised to have a Saint Teresa of sarsnet and blonde lace, as ’tis the latest mode. Ordered it at once. Mem. Blonde lace ruffles, with a large slope, vastly genteel. Uneasy till I get them. Eight.— Go home, fearing I may miss Mr. Cleveland. He advises, as my shoulders are rather round, that my stays be made high behind. He says ’tis quite the thing to have them so. I have desired they should be cut low before, as it shows the chest off to advantage. Sunday. Eleven o’clock.— Had no rest last night, anticipating the pleasure of the week to come. Too late for church. I shall dress in time enough for a ride in the Park. One. — Miss Wyndham has called for me. Go to Mrs. Emerson, to engage her to matronize us to an assembly to-morrow night. Mr. —– walked up to speak to us. An acquaintance of Miss Wyndham. A fine well-made man; improves on better acquaintance. He took great notice of me, and told Miss W. I was a prodigious fine girl. Miss W. jealous, and anxious to return home; he offered to escort us. Miss W. complained of headache, and would not speak. I improved the opportunity, by chatting away merrily to Mr. —– all the way home. Mem. To get green Persian calash, same as Miss Wyndham’s. Mr.—– praised it, so I won’t be outdone. Seven.— Mr. —– invited to dinner by my mother. I engrossed all his attention. He is very rich. Eleven.— Desired Mary to waken me at two in the morning, to have my hair dressed. It will be done in about four hours. Monday. Two in the morning.— Crumpe just arrived. Read Damon and Ella, whilst my head is being operated on. A sweet book! Seven.— My hair finished. Mem. Crumpe the first hair-dresser in Europe. Only 463 black pins in it. No other could have accomplished it with less than 470. Eleven. — Out shopping with Mrs. Emerson. Take the round of the fashionable milliners. Bespeak a grenadier cap of blonde lace, with a Mary Stuart peak. Saw a lovely clouded lute-string at Ball and Campbell’s. Resolved to have it. ‘Tis very much genteeler than Miss Wyndham’s. Twelve.— Had a glance at Mr. —–. They say half the reigning belles are dying for love of him. Charming creature! Mem. To dance the first minuet with him to-night, if possible. One.— Much fatigued from tumbling over silks, &c. Tried on my new negligee. Mem. Must not go to the assembly until ten. Country hours will not do here. Tuesday. One.— Paid so many visits yesterday before the assembly, that I was tired and out of sorts. Mr. —– danced with Miss Wyndham half the night. Well, to be sure, what taste some people have! She looked downright frightful. Her fortune is a large one; that covers all defects, I suppose. I am mortified, have a bad headache, and wish our stay in town was at an end. I have just heard that Mr. —– proposed for Miss Wyndham last night. I shall cut her acquaintance most certainly.


Leaves from my Mother’s Journal.

Tuesday, Dec. 2.— The boxes containing my trousseau have just arrived. My cousin Annie and I busy unpacking them. Annie to be my bridesmaid. How brilliant her color is to-day: she looks very lovely, and will grace our wedding. Of course, dear Edward is charmed with her, for my sake. My wedding-dress is of white lace, gored on the hips, and quite tight down to the knee, where small flowers, headed with thick wadded rolls of white satin, commence. The body is just one finger deep in front, and a little deeper behind. The dress is made low, for the ball on the evening of the wedding; and with it has come a white flowered satin spencer, covered with small white tassels on the front, and with a stiff standing collar, which looks very stylish. My hat is composed of blonde and satin, and has six full ostrich feathers in it, three at each side, the two end ones being very long, so as to fall gracefully on the shoulders. Madame Lion has sent, amongst other things, a blue cloth pelisse, trimmed with sable; the price of it is thirty-five guineas. Edward made Annie try on some of my things to see how he liked them. Strange that it was not me he wished to see them upon! Dear Edward, how thoughtful he is— he made me retire to my room very early, saying I looked fatigued. Annie did not follow me until twelve o’clock, and seemed flushed and slightly agitated on entering the room. She says I look so pale I should wear a little rouge. ‘Tis a fashion I never yet adopted. Wednesday, Dec. 3.— Papa and dear Edward all day in the study, closeted with Mr. Grabb, our attorney, arranging about settlements. Tomorrow I shall be the happy bride of him whom I adore. Guests arriving all day. I saw Annie coming out of the shrubbery with dear Edward, before the dinner-bell rang. What could they have gone there for? The hour late, too, for walking, and the evening cold and damp. Twelve o’clock.— Just retired to my room for the night. Take one more peep at my wedding dress, laid on the sofa, and now retire to dream of the happy morn fast approaching.

* * * * * *

Here the manuscript ceases; for, when morn came— that morn so longed for— Edward was missing; and, stranger far, Annie was nowhere to be found, and was sought for in vain. The faithless pair had eloped together, and the following day were united at Gretna Green. Long did my poor mother pine and mourn her sad fate. But at length brighter days arose for her; and in my dear and honored father she found what she had long searched for— a congenial loving, and honest heart. M.E.H.

Godey’s Lady’s Book [Philadelphia, PA] June 1854

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: Mrs Daffodil wonders what the author’s Great-Grandmother would have thought of Dollar Princesses, or flapper-brides, or today’s faux-celebrity weddings with sponsorships and paparazzi. Obviously her daughter did not absorb that lady’s sensible character or her notions of useful service and parental obedience. And with such a flirt for a mother, the 1820 bride could scarcely choose wisely, no matter how fascinating Dear Edward.

But to some extent, the essentials have not changed: weddings bring on an onslaught of fashion, rather than thoughtful contemplation about how to pass the time after the Happiest Day of one’s life has passed. Marriage ought to mean more than a trousseau, champagne toasts, and the cover of Hello Magazine.


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 Two Brides: 1853

Victorian housewife in kitchen

The Thrifty Housewife

“Oh! Henry! is this the cottage you thought so beautiful?—dear, dear me, what a very shabby place,” said Marion Lenox, as with her husband they alighted at the door of a neat little cottage.

“Why, my love, you know it’s just Spring; the leaves are hardly out, and the rose-bushes only budding. Yet you may form some idea of how it will look in summer; see the vines trained over the windows! Look at the garden spots here and there—rather neglected to be sure—but—”

“Rather neglected,” added his wife, breaking in upon him; “I should think so. Why, there’s a nettle bush—and such miserable little stunted trees; and straw—litter, and old hoops— rather neglected. And the door—how old-fashioned and ugly! take care—I am sure you can hardly stand up straight in this narrow, low-studded little hall. I detest low ceilings, country or no country. And this bit of a parlor hardly large enough to turn about in—I can’t and I won’t like that! Now let me see the kitchen; oh, horror!” she exclaimed, holding up her hands, either noticing not, or deigning not to notice the expression of uneasiness that sat on her husband’s face “look at the hearth—of brick, as I’m alive, and takes up half the floor. High windows, too!—how I hate high windows—and such a pattern for paper! it makes me nervous to look at it—criss-cross, like spiders crawling over a web; now Henry, you can’t expect me to live here!”

Her husband, a fine, manly looking fellow, half sighed as he answered—“I should be very unwilling to submit you to inconveniences such as you seem to dread, but there are only this and the new cottage above, on the hill. That you know is three hundred dollars a year, two hundred more than we should pay for this—and then the expenses!”

“Oh! Henry dear! don’t go talking about expenses; your business is so good, it will warrant a little outlay you told me so yourself. Come, I will economise in other things—just look now at these dingy, black closets”—he half agreed with her as she opened the really dismal places—“I shouldn’t wonder if they were filled with rats and vermin. Now let’s go up stairs; see how the paper is torn off and patched—and worse, and more of it, there is but one upright chamber in the house. Mother’s last words to me were, do get upright chambers, for they look so pretty when they are well furnished. And here in front of the house is a wretched great hole—”

“But in summer,” put in Henry.

“Oh! I know what you would say.— I suppose there is water there sometimes, but half of the year it will be a most detestable sight. Then the trees so close to the house—I’ve always heard that trees make a house very damp and uncomfortable —no; I’m sure you won’t try to make me live in such a place, after all the comfort I’ve been used to. Come let us go—for really, I am quite melancholy already.”

Henry resigned the key, only half convinced by his wife’s reasoning. He loved her, wanted to make her happy; but just starting in life, how was he to maintain style and extravagance? He liked the little cottage, but was persuaded against his better judgment to refuse it.

About an hour after, a plain carriage drove up, and a sprightly young man lifted a sweet, blue-eyed girl to the ground, saying as he did so, “Now prepare to be disappointed.”

“I am not in the least with the exterior,” she exclaimed, pausing,—“oh! how cunning—how neat! what a fine place for a garden! and those dear little —and this wilderness of rose-bushes! I declare, I never was so pleased with anything in my life. The door looks like what I have seen in pictures of old country houses—and oh! do look and see the vines clambering over every window! When they are loaded with blossoms, and the roses are out, it will seem like Paradise.”

“The entry is rather small and low,” remarked her husband.

“Oh! not a bit too small; and as to low ceilings, in a cottage like this, they are quite apropo. Now did you ever see a quainter, pleasanter little parlor—just the place for your mother’s nice old-fashioned furniture. The sofa shall be there, right between those pretty little windows, and the chairs here, and the table there: won’t it look so cosy and comfortable?” she asked, her blue eyes sparkling with unalloyed pleasure.

How could the young man help kissing that pure, innocent brow, upturned to him so lovingly?

“Now the kitchen,” she cried, clapping her hands—“there! just what I hoped! It’s just a bit of old times as I thought it would be. Maybe you don’t like brick hearths—but I do. Many a frolic have I had in grandmother’s kitchen; this is like it only a smaller edition. There she used to sit, in a corner like that, and her smile always looked so heavenly! This does make me think of her.”

“Do you like the closets?” asked her husband, throwing open the doors.

“Oh! I like everything. Yes, it’s rather fortunate they are dark; the flies will keep out nicely. Indeed I like everything,” she added, running up stairs; “we can get a little new house-paper, some brighter than this, and paper the stairway; and here we are, chambers small, and cottage fashion. Most people like upright chambers, but don’t you think it’s pleasanter to hear the rain rattling down the roof? Oh, such dear snug little places—not at all ungainly, and looking out upon such a delicious prospect. Besides! here’s a joyful surprise —a pond! That is, it will be; oh! I am so glad—just in front of the house, too! the prettiest spot! And when the trees are all leafed out, and the birds sing on the branches, right close to our windows—and the garden and meadow are in the full bloom of summer—oh! won’t we be happy?”

“We are happy now;” said her husband, thanking God in his heart for his cheerful little wife. “We are happy enough now, dear Louise.”

At they were riding home they passed the new house on the hill.

“There!” exclaimed Louise, pointing towards it—”how much better our little home will be than that stiff, ornamented place. I pity whoever will live there— no shade trees, no nice old-fashioned corners —besides,” added she roguishly, adding to her husband, “two hundred dollars to spend in comfort, is something of a gain! Ah! we have made much the better bargain.”

How true is the old proverb that “where the spider sucks poison, the bee sucks honey.”

M. A. D.

The Lily 15 March 1853

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire:  Mrs Daffodil thinks the proverb writer is a bit muddled about the habits of spiders, but never mind… The moral is plain: One bride’s meat is another bride’s poison.