Victorian Wedding Customs
“There is something exquisitely poetical about the idea of a June wedding. It is the very month for softer emotions”. Starr Ockenga shared Victorian sentiments and their fascination
of the symbols ‘that tell the story of the heart…the veil, the flowers, the ring.’
“A Woman can never be too fine while she is all in white”
Victorian Wedding customs:
“It used to be the custom for the bridegroom to send his bride every morning until the wedding day a nosegay of the finest flowers in season…it appears to have been the custom for those who were betrothed to wear some flowers as an external and conspicuous mark of their mutual engagement. Rosemary, as an emblem of remembrance, (was) being worn at weddings to signify the fidelity of the lovers” (Flowers and Flower Lore 1889)
“in arranging the house for a spring wedding have only one flower in masses: the apple-blossom wedding, the lilac wedding, the lily wedding, the rose wedding and the daffodil wedding, the violet wedding, and the daisy wedding. So well has been carried out that at a recent daisy wedding the bride’s lace and diamond ornaments bore the daisy pattern, and each brides maid received a daisy pin with diamond center…and it is a pretty conceit for the bride to make the flower which was the ornament of her wedding her flower for life”. (Manners and Social Usage 1887)
“A very pretty effect is produced…if the bride wears pure white, and the bridesmaids white with flowers and trimmings of a different color…green leaves…blue ribbons and forget-me-nots…or pink roses and ribbons.” (The Ladies Book of Etiquette and Manual of Politeness 1872)
“It was Queen Victoria who began the fashion for all-white wedding clothes; before her 1840 nuptials, a bride chose a pretty dress that she would continue to wear on other fine occasions. But Victoria married in rich white satin, her veil of Honiton lace caught by a wreath of orange-flower blossoms. In 1863 the maids in flounces and flowers, who attended her son’s bride, Princess Alexandra, are admired by their present to the bride-a bracelet with their painted miniatures identified by initials in diamonds.”
Members of a bridal party might receive a special gift – like ornamental handkerchiefs, but everyone went home with some cake. An 1888 book tells how slices were sometimes laid under pillows at night so young persons would dream of their future spouses.
Another custom called for a ring to be baked in the cake so that “when it is cut, the person who secures the slice containing the ring will secure with it unusual good fortune during the ensuing year, which good fortune, should be the possessor be a maiden, would imply an eligible suitor and a happy marriage”.
Now, I am in the mood to watch either, ‘The Age of Innocence’ – a beautifully made movie that demonstrates the beauties of the Victorian era. Or,
‘Young Victoria’ – a sentimentally, lovely movie about Queen Victoria.