Tag Archives: pew cards

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.