Tag Archives: Edwardian weddings

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.

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The Bridegroom’s Trousseau: 1909

A stylish Edwardian wedding couple. Note how the bridegroom forms a sober background to the bride’s ensemble.

THE BRIDEGROOM’S TROUSSEAU,

A fashion column for men is now a feature of several of the London papers of high standing, London editors having at long last come to understand that men are just as much concerned about their personal appearance and the minutest sartorial detail as women—a fact which has never been any secret to the latter, by the way.

Edwardian gentleman’s travelling case, 1909 http://www.bonhams.com/auctions/22132/lot/144/

Now with regard to the wedding outfit of a fashionable man. In this respect we learn the modern bridegroom is first and foremost an epicure in those little niceties of the toilet generally regarded as of interest to women only. Take for instance his dressing case, many scores of which we are credibly informed are now being sold in the Bond Street shops. They have solid gold fittings, and, some are valued at £2,000, while the cheapest are sold at about £150. A description of the contents of one of these articles de luxe, as given by a writer in the “Daily Mail” is somewhat instructive, especially to those people who imagine that the days of the dandies are over. The case was valued at £1000, and the pure white morroco lining gave to it a distinctly bridal appearance. Every fitting was of gold, very simple in design, and tiny monograms in diamonds were to be set on each of the fittings before being sent to the owner. Among the etceteras of the case are mentioned bottles of cut glass with gold tops, and some of these are for scent and some for cunning liquid to be applied to the bridegroom’s hair and add to its natural glossiness. There are razors that will make his face as smooth as a girl’s, shaving brushes mounted in gold, and a shaving pot with, spirit lamp of gold. There is—speak it softly—a tiny golden case containing another spirit lamp, and (it seems almost treachery to give these secrets away) gold-mounted curling tongs.

These, are for curling the bridegroom’s moustache, or, perhaps, to impart just a little waviness to his locks.

And the instruments of manicure—there are dozens of them! Little golden files to give the smooth roundness to his nails; little gold-mounted polishing pads and little gold boxes to contain pink powder which will make his nails glisten like jewels; little gold scissors, and little gold forceps (even in a path of roses, there are thorns), and. glistening in the centre, the veritable “golden spoon” that we were just going to say these bridegrooms must be born with. This one is merely designed as a measure for medicines. It is but the old-fashioned “doctor’s spoon” of our youth, made of gold to match the other fittings.

After detailing fitted “suit cases” and other little luxuries which the fashionable bridegroom of to-day indulges in, the “Daily Mail” writer adds:—But these things are merely the minor accessories to the modern bridegroom’s toilet. To know what clothes he will consider necessary for his trousseau we must visit one of the fashionable tailors of London, where the name of nearly every well-known man in England is known. Here we can arrive at a fair estimate of the outfit a bridegroom of fashion will obtain.

First come the black coat and fine linen in which he.will be married. No smart bridegroom would be married in a “frock” to-day; the “morning” coat is the only ’possible wear.

It will be “braided,” and will have either one or two buttons. The will be folded, not rolled, very low. Occasionally the coat is made without any buttons on’ the front.  Instead are two buttonholes, and the coat is hold together by a “link” made of two buttons connected by a strong thread.

A “dove-coloured” morning suit waistcoat http://www.nationaltrustcollections.org.uk/object/1367170.2

The waistcoat will, be light grey, or dove colour, and will be cut a little lower than, recent fashions have dictated, and the trousers will be grey, not too light, nor yet too dark. Very light trousers, such as were worn not long ago, are now quite impossible.

With the dove-coloured waistcoat a narrow tie of grey, rather dark in shade, will be worn, and, of course, the collar will be of the wing pattern with slightly rounded corners. The actual coat, waistcoat, and trousers will not cost more than eleven guineas.

Next, at least two evening suits will be necessary, and two frock suits will also be required, and most men would order a dozen pairs of trousers at the same time, which cost about two pounds five or two pounds ten shillings a pair.

A dozen lounge suits, one is told, ought to be ordered together, as these can be worn on so many occasions, and they ought to be of every thickness from blue serge to heavy “Harris.”

At least four overcoats should be included in a good trousseau, including one lined with fur, which may cost anything between ten guineas and one thousand guineas.

Since fancy waistcoats are popular again most bridegrooms consider a large selection necessary.

One recently gave an order for one hundred, which included nearly every colour and material known to the tailor’s art. The average order would probably be about one dozen, or perhaps rather less. Quiet greys of various patterns are most popular.

The underclothing of the modern bridegroom is almost entirely of silk, and in this luxury he certainly will not stint himself. Clothes never seem to set well over anything but silk, and in his account for underwear will be almost as large as his tailor’s bill.

Upon handkerchiefs at about thirty shillings a dozen, scarves, and white waistcoats for dress wear, he may, of course, spend anything he chooses; but perhaps enough has been said to show that though the bridegroom’s trousseau is not discussed among friends like the bride’s, its cost often mounts to a figure which shows that it is not only the fashionable woman who is occasionally extravagant.

New Zealand Times 20 March 1909: p. 12

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: This piece is unusually candid about the cost to outfit the well-dressed bridegroom.  Such things were not always thought worthy of mention. The gentlemen were merely expected to appear, correctly costumed, on the wedding morning as a sort of backdrop or foil to the bride—a bridal accessory ranked somewhere on the level of gloves or stockings instead of an essential part of the proceedings.

To be fair, there was also controversy about whether or not it was indiscreet to discuss a bride’s trousseau in the newspapers. While Mrs Daffodil regrets that she could not decipher some of the captions, this cartoon from Punch suggested that what is good for the goose is good for the gander:

The Bridegroom’s Trousseau 1908

THE BRIDEGROOM’S TROUSSEAU: OR, THE NEWEST JOURNALISM

A distressing practice has grown up in the last year or so of publishing photographs of the dresses, hats, veils, etc., comprised in the trousseau of a forthcoming bride, and of showing them worn, for the purposes of photography, by miscellaneous strangers—ladies, we presume, in the employ of the tradespeople. Our artist cannot see why men should not retaliate in kind, except, of course, that very few bridegrooms would consent to tolerate an exhibition of this character.

A Dainty Silk Hat.

Fascinating Going away Suit for the Bridegroom

A Perfect Dream of a Cap for Golf and Countrywear.

Absolutely Blinding Patent-leather Boots for the marriage ceremony.

Bewitching Little Tyrolean Toque

Bewilderingly Beautiful Pyjamas

Punch, Or The London Charivari 16 September 1908: p. 213

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 Wedding Pest: 1915

Unwelcome Wedding Guests

June—magic month of blossoms, of dreams, fulfilled and yet to be, is upon us and with it comes the ever lovely bride and the negligible bridegroom, the not always lovely wedding and the wholly unlovely “Wedding Fan.” Not your sweet-scented, delicate bit of lace and ivory, dangling from the arm of the bride, or in a moment of fluttering consciousness, serving to shield her blushes from a too-curious world. Oh, dear no! Nothing of the sort!

The “Wedding Fan” is a pest, an unmitigated, unadulterated nuisance, from the standpoint of those on the “inside,” at least, a public peeping-tom, a beast of prey, a vulgar pushing person to whom the sight of a striped awning outside the portals of a city church is the signal for commencement of his machinations.

Aye, more! He needs no striped canvas, no splash of scarlet velvet reaching across the pavement to start him on his journey of impertinence. Two lines in the penny paper of a June morning, and presto! The germ is alive, crying for quick liberation.

“The marriage of Miss Claribel Astor Vanderbilt, only daughter of Townsend DeLancy Vanderbilt, to Mortimer Spuyten Duyvil Tuxedo will be solemnized at the Fifth Avenue Church of the Apostles on Wednesday next at 4 o’clock.”

This is sufficient to awaken the germ in the “Wedding Fan” and cause it to demand to be taken out for a little exercise. Mostly it is a female germ, keen with the heritage of Pandora, for insinuating itself into forbidden places.

Sex curiosity, desire to borrow a thrill form the joyous exaltation of the young bride, a yearning to gaze on the trappings of a world in which she plays no part, to discern wherein lies the difference between her Eighth avenue “steady” and the titled fiancé of the Fifth avenue heiress, are some motives. And the ‘igher the contractin’ parties, the keener the appetite for the ‘umble fan or faness for a “nose-in” at the show.

“Nose-in,” “toes-in,” any-way-to-get-in, is the motto of your chronic wedding “ug,” to whom invitations are never counted among the requisites of sightseeing in High Society. The fashionable church wedding, calling for “cards of admittance,” has a lure all its own to one of these cratures of the polished brass front crew.

Imperturbable, rebuff-proof, case-hardened against mere insults from minions, these determined devotees of Hymen, who by no other means than plain larceny could possibly put their thumb-prints on the precious, engraved (they feel of it to see) pasteboard, yet somehow find their devious way, trusting to miracle or lie for an open-sesame, past of the police, past the ushers, up the aisle and sometimes e’en to the sacrosanct precincts of the “family pew.”

At a Fifth avenue wedding a fortnight since, a handsome, dignified “grand dame” and her pretty “daughter,” both impeccably attired, were halted at the church door on their failure to produce the proper passports.

The “mother’s” first cue was pretense at not understanding and with supercilious eyebrow at the delay, swept on toward the centre aisle. Usher No. 2 tapped her on the arm, meaning, “Come across, or right-about-face.” Did she weep? Oh, none of such!

Instead a great indignation inspired her and “daughter” added her pretty protest, not a bit overdone. Finally when the old dear found her progress permanently impeded, she condescended to open her dangling opera bag and search for those “really quite unnecessary cards.” Daughter joined in the quest and both exchanged ostentatious glances of puzzled (sic) dismay when the cards remained “hid out.”

“Why, mother dear, I saw them in the limousine,” said “daughter,” but the ushers had ushered before—“no card, no see.” By this time groups of bidden guests, holding crested credentials, who had been pouring forth from motors, were frothing at the mouth.

“Why, I went to school with her mother,” protested the “grand dame” as the bride’s party went in but a few feet away. “Little Gladys here is such a friend of the groom’s. Surely we can have seats without those stupid cards.”

Surely they couldn’t! The suspicious ushers, who possessed the instincts of headquarters detectives, with quiet but firm pressure on the shoulder, escorted those who had attempted to “horn in” to the vestibule, where the angry views of both became audible and culminated in a tirade of Bowery blasphemy, at the ushers, the bride, her parents and grandparents, the church and all future functions of the “Upper Ten.”

“Can you beat it?” asked the ushers.

From all walks of life come the “Wedding Fans.” With some, insatiable curiosity for all doings of the “beau monde,” seems congenital to all ages, they are on the “qui vive” at the first notice of any function, whether wedding or funeral. These are the morbidly curious, and omnipresent as the innocent bystanders, always to be found, an anticipatory foot across the “dead line.”

Philadelphia [PA] Inquirer 27 June 1915: p. 1

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: The gawking multitudes were always present at the Society Wedding, hence the introduction of “pew cards,” as they are called, to keep out the uninvited. Mrs Daffodil understands that they are now called wedding “crashers,” which suggests an assertive lady in a fascinator carrying a battering ram.  Well-trained ushers usually kept the Wedding Pest at bay, but occasionally an unwelcome guest slipped by:

NO IMPEDIMENT.

An Objection to a Wedding Ceremony That Was Overruled.

A popular politician tells a story about one of his electioneering campaigns. He had arrived about noon at a certain small station. He started out after dinner for a walk about the village, on the outskirts of which he came upon a building thronged with people.

The building was a church, and a wedding was about to take place. He edged his way through the crowd until he reached a spot where he had a good view of the bride and bridegroom and the clergyman who was about to perform the ceremony.

The church was packed, with the exception of a low, dark gallery near the roof. This was apparently deserted.

The minister proceeded with the ceremony until he came to the point where custom required him to pause and inquire if there was any one present who knew any reason why the couple should not be made husband and wife. A hush fell upon the assemblage and every one waited in breathless suspense. Something of a sensation was caused when a voice came from the upper gallery, saying:

“Yes, I do.”

All eyes were turned to the gallery where, seated all alone in the gloom, barely discernible, was a meek-looking little man, with a haggard face and disheveled hair. After the clergyman had recovered from his surprise he said sternly, “State your reason, sir!”

The suspense was turned to merriment by the little man’s reply:

“I want the girl myself,” he said.

Harrisburg [PA] Daily Independent 1 September 1909: p. 4

In this case of a bridal veil imposture, an uninvited guest saved the day.

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.

 

Bridal Superstitions: 1906-1913

Wedding-Day Omens

It is said — by whom no one seems to know — that if the day chosen by a girl for her wedding proves to be rainy, her life will be filled with more sorrow than joy. Be that as it may, one of the happiest of marriages was made on Friday the thirteenth day of the month, and at the hour set for the ceremony there was a most terrific thunderstorm. In spite of the fact that for years it has been said that Saturday was the most unlucky day of the week for weddings, of late it has been selected by brides of international fame.

If the carriage containing the bride should meet a funeral procession, the driver must be instructed to turn some other way. If he does not, fate decrees that she will not long survive the wedding.

To avoid the possibility of any bad luck on her wedding day, the bride elect should not offer to assist in washing or wiping the family dishes, for if by chance she should happen to break a bit of china, it would be an exceedingly evil omen — the old record does not say what, but it would be prudent not to tempt fate.

Gray is the color a bride should choose for her going-away gown if she wishes to wear what for ages has been considered the proper thing to insure good luck. Perhaps that is the reason there has been such an unprecedented demand for gray.

When the cake known as the “groom’s” is passed at a wedding supper the girl who gets the longest piece will be the first married. Maidens anxious to leave the state of single blessedness should consult the head waiter and see that the cake is cut in irregular pieces.

Fate was certainly kind when she decreed that for a bride to shed tears on her wedding day was a good omen, for it would take a pretty stoical young woman to go through breaking home ties without a few tears, no matter how alluring the prospect of the new life.

Snow falling on a wedding day augurs well for the happy couple, being the prophecy of great happiness. That may be the reason why the winter months are so popular for marriages

From the following lists of months the bride may select the one which she considers most auspicious.

Marry when the year is new, Always loving, kind, and true.

When February birds do mate You may wed, nor dread your fate.

If you wed when March winds blow, Joy and sorrow both you ‘ll know.

Marry in April when you can, Joy for maiden and for man.

Marry in the month of May, You will surely rue the day.

Marry when June roses blow, Over land and sea you ‘ll go.

They who in July do wed Must labor always for their bread.

Whoever wed in August be, Many a change are sure to see.

Marry in September’s shine, Your living will be rich and fine.

If in October you do marry, Love will come, but riches tarry.

If you wed in bleak November Only joy will come, remember.

When December’s snows fall fast, Marry, and true love will last.

Probably nine lasses out of every ten go to the altar wearing the proverbial:

Something old, something new, Something borrowed, something blue, And a gold dollar in her shoe.

“Dame Curtsey’s” book of novel entertainments for every day in the year, Ellye Howell Glover 1907

Wedding veils of 1910

Wedding veils of 1910

Bridal Superstitions

A bride who believes in the old superstitions that have been handed down from generation to generation will not dress herself entirely until the time for the ceremony, and she will not allow a maid to assist in pinning on her veil—this service must be performed by a wife and mother.

Unless she wishes to be ruled with a rod of iron by her future husband, the bride must put on her right shoe first when dressing for the wedding. Similarly, the right glove must be put on first to ensure her being first in her husband’s affections.

A “LUCKY” GIFT

Considerate brides wear as many pairs of garters during the ceremony as they have bridesmaids.

For the best day of the week, an old rhyme says:

Monday for health, Tuesday for wealth,

Wednesday the best day of all.

Thursday for crosses, Friday for losses;

Saturday no luck at all.

[Mrs Daffodil notes that the latter prohibition has entirely fallen out of favour.]

“HAPPY THE BRIDE”

“Happy is the bride that the sun shines on” is a prophecy that has come to us from early days on the coast of Wales. There the mists blowing in from the sea made days of sunshine rare events, and the bride on whom the sun shone down considered herself most fortunate.

The bride must remember, also, that she must not allow her prospective husband to see her in her bridal attire until she meets him before the altar, as to do so is supposed to invite all kinds of bad luck. [The future King George V accidentally caught sight of his bride, May of Teck, down a corridor on the morning of their wedding; the incident did not seem to impair their mutual devotion.]

1877 wedding dress in purple or mauve. Obviously it is difficult to rhyme "purple," but "mauve?" "Married in mauve, your love with rove?"

1877 wedding dress in purple or mauve. Obviously it is difficult to rhyme “purple,” but “mauve?” “Married in mauve, your love will rove?”  http://bowes.adlibhosting.com/Details/collect/1157

As to what the bride shall be attired in, there is an old rhyme which runs:

Married in white, you have chosen all right;

Married in gray, you will go far away;

Married in black, you will wish yourself back;

Married in red, you’d better be dead;

Married in green, ashamed to be seen;

Married in blue, you’ll always be true;

Married in pearl, you’ll live in a while;

Married in pearl, you’ll live in a whirl;

Married in yellow, ashamed of the fellow;

Married in brown, you’ll live out of town;

Married in pink, your spirits will sink.

One beautiful marriage custom is that of the bride, immediately after the ceremony, flinging her bouquet among her bridesmaids. She who catches it is destined to be the next bride.

Philadelphia [PA] Inquirer 9 April 1911: p. 2

And a few more:

Superstitions regarding marriage are common in all parts of the world. One is that a bride, on leaving her home for the wedding trip, must step into the carriage right foot first. She should do the same when she first enters the home prepared for her after the bridal trip.

Fort Worth [TX] Star Telegram 26 December 1913: p. 13

When a bride dreams of fairies the night before her marriage she must consider herself blessed, and if she finds a spider on her wedding dress it also means a blessing. Philadelphia [PA] Inquirer 25 November 1906: p. 1

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: Of course, the real reason winter was so popular for early weddings was that much out-door labour had ceased; the Christmas holidays were a particularly favoured time. One also is sceptical of the “golden dollar” in the bride’s shoe. Surely a crippling addition and a tradition designed for the nouveau-riche American market, rather than the traditional modest English six-pence. To Mrs Daffodil’s mind, finding a spider on one’s bridal dress would be far from lucky, leading as it might to much shrieking, beating of hands, and perhaps a distasteful smudge on the pristine white fabric.

Mrs Daffodil would be interested to hear any other bridal traditions/superstitions her readers have known or adopted.

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.

 

Flowers a Bride Should Carry: 1902

A 1907 wedding couple and page boy. http://lafayette.org.uk/may5353.html

A 1907 wedding couple and page boy. http://lafayette.org.uk/may5353.html

Flowers a Bride Should Carry

By Martha Coman

Flowers  always been pre-eminently a symbol of nature’s bursts of joy, and for that reason, perhaps, more than any other, excepting their own beauteous excuse for being, they have been used lavishly for all festive occasions. But there is no one time when flowers are so universally called upon to play an important part as in the month of June, for then it is that the carved arches of the church and the walls of the home echo back the triumphant notes of the wedding march. There is but one thing fairer than a perfect day in June, and that is a June bride, clad in shimmering satin and crowned with folds of frosty lace.

The flowers the bride shall carry is a question to be decided by her own individuality, for every girl has her favorite, and her wedding day is a welcome opportunity to make her choice a public one. The bride’s bouquet is not invariably of pure white, though the paler colors are more effective and much more acceptable than the deeper ones of red or pink. Lilies-of-the-valley made up into one of the beautiful shower bouquets are about as appropriate for the fair maiden as anything, though there are innumerable combinations possible in the way of orchids and violets.

The shower bouquet is rarely successfully turned out by an amateur, and those persons who save the last sweet service of personally arranging the bride’s flowers for their own fingers had best not attempt much in the way of a shower. But the palest of pink roses or the beautiful bride roses are at hand and can be easily arranged. The sweet, old-fashioned white lilac is a most acceptable flower to use when the bouquet is put together by loving hands rather than by busy professional ones, and it lends itself easily to an admirable result.

White orchids combined with the delicate green of the Farleyencis fern make a stunning bouquet, especially when the whole is tied lavishly with broad, soft velvet ribbon that matches exactly in shade the delicate petals of the rare exotic. This flower and fern, put together in the form called the “Princess Plume” bouquet, is a most beautiful and effective accessory to the bride’s attire.

The violet cuff bouquet was a fad for a time, as was also the Du Barry collarette of the same modest but popular flower. The collarette and cuff effects were generally used only for the bride’s attendants, the bride herself carrying a huge shower bouquet of white violets. Leghorn hats of white, lavishly decorated with pink roses and tied on with broad streamers of ribbon to match, are very pretty for bridesmaids, and it is then a most effective idea to have the attendants carry only large bunches of waving, feathery, maidenhair fern. Wild sweet-brier roses and apple blossoms are very lovely for floral decorations, but they are rather difficult to manage when it comes to the bouquets, and so they are both more popular for wall and aisle decorations.

wedding flowers article illustration

Marguerites are pretty for the little pages to carry, and they are also most effective for banking chancel rails and the like. One extremely pretty wedding occurred not long ago, at which marguerites were extensively used, as this was the bride’s favorite flower, and also because she was a Marguerite in name.

The pages, two boys and two little girls, carried straw hats tied in the form of baskets and swung over the arms of the children with broad streamers of ribbon. The hats were filled to overflowing with the nodding field flowers, and after they had been decorously carried up the aisle to the altar, and when the ceremony had been performed, the little tots walked down the aisle ahead of the bride and groom strewing in their path the blossoms from the basket hats. It was done so solemnly and so sweetly by the grave-faced children, and was in itself so tenderly significant, that many a spectator found himself looking on with dimmed eyes.

Another most effective idea in the way of a novelty is that of having the bride’s attendants carry shepherds’ crooks, the long, graceful affairs painted pure white, and to each one tied a beautiful bouquet of Mermot roses. From these depend sweeping streamers of white velvet ribbon. The effect is extremely beautiful. When orchids of a pale and most delicate tint are tied with velvet ribbons it is often the fad to have the streamer ends embroidered in the same tints.

Gardenias and violets are a lovely combination, though it is generally the custom to use either the one flower or the other. A bridal bouquet has a certain sweet dignity of its own, and this must not be encroached upon by any injudicious combinations of colors. The “plume” bouquet is one now very popular, and its name really indicates its peculiar shape. The plume is built, not as a round or shower bouquet is, but the plume is made to lie along one’s left arm, the heavy heads of the long-stemmed roses lying over the crook of the elbow, and the stems crossing the front of one’s gown. Sweet peas, the long-stemmed variety, are very stunning made into a double plume, or with great bunches of the flowers at both ends, and when this is the case the centre is carefully wrapped with wide ribbon, which hides the stems successfully and leaves only the pretty blossoms in sight.

At one of the early spring weddings which occurred while the lilacs were still in full bloom, the bride carried a beautiful loose bunch of pure white lilacs, relieved only by the subdued green of their own pretty leaves, while her attendants carried great bouquets of the same flower, but in the purple shade. Great branches of the same old-fashioned flowers were fastened about the altar rail and lined the aisle, and the clean, spring-like fragrance was everywhere.

Perhaps, when it comes to the last word concerning the flowers for the bride, and unless her individual taste is rather out of the ordinary, there is nothing lovelier for the maiden than a great loose bunch of the real bride roses, those heavy-headed white flowers that are at once so lovely and so symbolical.

Frank Leslie’s Weekly, 24 July, 1902

"The Bridal Wreath," by Currier & Ives, mid-19th century. http://art.famsf.org/currier-and-ives/bridal-wreath-19992025

“The Bridal Wreath,” by Currier & Ives, mid-19th century. http://art.famsf.org/currier-and-ives/bridal-wreath-19992025

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: In some families there exists the custom of including a sprig of myrtle, symbol of love and constancy, in the bridal bouquet.

A pretty German custom that is beginning to be observed here is to plant a spray or two of the bridal wreath when it is made of natural flowers. The wife of a well-known German citizen, full of this tender sentiment, brought with her to this country a flourishing little plant grown from her own myrtle wreath. A little while ago her daughter was married and her wreath was composed of the starry blossoms from her mother’s carefully tended shrub. Omaha [NE] World Herald 17 August 1891: p. 3

All royal brides who are related to the Queen have a sprig of myrtle on their wedding day that is cut from a particular tree. This tree was grown from a slip sent from Germany for the bridal bouquet of the Princess Royal, and the tree it was cut from dates back to the time of the Crusaders. Otago [NZ] Witness, 30 December 1897: p. 43

An 1885 brides-maid's crook with flower arrangement.

An 1885 brides-maid’s crook with flower arrangement.

As for shepherds’ crooks for the brides-maids, they are (Mrs Daffodil has personally observed) deadly in the wrong hands, so perhaps the less encouragement they receive, the better. As this 1890 article observed:

Bridesmaids have not yet learned to carry their canes as gracefully as Watteau’s creations handled the insignia of their pastoral calling. Let me advise any lady desirous of adopting this fashion at her own wedding to see that the bridesmaids are well-drilled previous to the ceremony, so that uniformity in the carriage of the canes may be observed.

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.

 

At Weddings, Throw Confetti: 1915

Wedding Charm made from Confetti Made by 'the girls', closers, at Sears Factory. This was a common practice at the factory. Given to Edith Crouch at her wedding to Frederick Arthur Amos at St Michael's Church, Northampton on August 2 1925. Edith was a closer at Sears. Fred was a clicker at Oakeshott & Finnemore. Photo Credit: Northampton Museums & Art Gallery

Wedding Charm made from Confetti
Made by ‘the girls’, closers, at Sears Factory. This was a common practice at the factory.
Given to Edith Crouch at her wedding to Frederick Arthur Amos at St Michael’s Church, Northampton on August 2 1925. Edith was a closer at Sears. Fred was a clicker at Oakeshott & Finnemore.
Photo Credit: Northampton Museums & Art Gallery

At Weddings, Throw Confetti—It’s the New and Charming Custom.

Confetti throwing can be made an especially pretty feature of a June wedding, for the bits of paper can be obtained in all flowering colors to harmonize with the floral decorations of the occasion. Because of its many attractive possibilities, confetti is rapidly being submitted for the time-honored rice.

Where the confetti is bought by the box, to be separated into bags of tulle or gauze, sufficient time should be allowed for the work. If the confetti is chosen in rose petal form and coloring, it should be placed in bags of the palest pink maline, so fragile that it will puncture with the fingernail when the contents of the bag are to be used. White or pale pink gauze ribbon can be utilized in the same way, though the cost will be slightly increased. Where maline is used the easiest way is to cut a square of the desired size, put a handful of confetti in the centre, pull up the four corners of the maline, and just below the corners tie round and round the maline with narrow satin ribbon. Where there is no objection to the extra time spent, the projecting corners of the maline can be decorated with paper rose petals, attached with a little paste. The ends of the ribbons may also be tipped with some appropriate favor, such an imitation wedding ring, a tiny china slipper or an artificial orange blossom.

Other containers for confetti are bags of white or pale tinted crepe paper, manipulated as a fabric would be, gathered at the top with a heading and tied with inch-wide satin ribbons. These can be of any size preferred. Some of those recently used held several handfuls of confetti, the bag being some ten inches deep. The sides of such a bag can be ornamented with cutouts of kewpies, pairs of doves, bridal slippers, or with the initials of the bride and bridegroom painted in gold or silver metal paint. These bags make charming souvenirs of the occasion and cost little more than the time involved.

Flower Tipped Wands

Long wands, wound with ribbon or paper, each ending in a cup-shaped flower, are also in favor as a means of using confetti in decoration. Where there are children present, each little one may carry a wand, and at the proper time release the package of confetti hidden in the cup of the flower. Tulips, poppies and large rosebuds furnish excellent models for this work, and with a little practice they can be made at home.

Another novelty is to attach what are called “confetti balls” to a long wand, the balls to be pulled off and tossed at the bride. These balls are also used piled in baskets and passed to guests when the bride is about leaving. To make these fluffy affairs long strips of crepe paper are cut, from two to four inches wide, according to the size of the ball desired. Each side of this long strip is pulled out at intervals, giving a ruffled edge. The strip is then closely rolled and tied tightly through the centre, the many layers of ruffled edge paper at each side forming a fluffy mass which can be easily pressed together, concealing the thread with which the roll of paper is tied. These look like snowballs, when made of white crepe paper, and are highly decorative when carried out in any of the flower shades to correspond with the color scheme chosen for the wedding. These can be tied at intervals on a thread and suspended from the tip of a wand. Long, slender strips of wood come for this purpose and can be easily wound with paper to match the confetti balls, making a remarkable pretty wedding novelty.

Another method of distributing confetti among the wedding guests is to procure a number of fancy cases such as ices or bonbons are served in, each box topped with a paper flower matching the floral decorations. While the bride is dressing to leave, these boxes are passed on a large tray or flat basket, each guest taking one. When the decorative cover is pulled off, each box is found to contain confetti ready to be showered on the bride as she goes away. By purchasing these cases undecorated and doing the ornamental work at home, it is possible to have a quantity of them at small cost and especially planned to harmonize with the other decorations. A paper doll, dressed in bridal costume, may be chosen for the adornment of each box of confetti which, after it has served its purpose, can be carried home as a souvenir of the wedding.

New York Tribune 30 June 1915: p. 7

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: Showers of paper rose petals and coloured confetti seem more suited to a children’s party, but one sees a great deal of confetti thrown at contemporary weddings, some cut in heart and initial shapes. Many houses of worship now prohibit the use of rice as untidy and dangerous to the guests (Juliette Gordon Low, the foundress of the Girl Guides in the States, was deafened by a grain of “lucky” bridal rice in one ear.) Mrs Daffodil cannot see that confetti would be much of an improvement in the view of those unlucky enough to inhale it or those hired to sweep it up. The wands topped with cup-shaped flowers recall irresistibly the thyrsus (a stick wrapped in ivy or vine leaves and tipped with a pinecone) of the Bacchanates. Bands of confetti-throwing Maenads would add much interest to the traditional English wedding.

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.