Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Victorian Wedding Etiquette

The chief bridesmaid's duty is to take the bride's bouquet and gloves when the service begins... When a widow marries, the wedding differs on several points. There are neither bridesmaids nor favors, and the lady is debarred wearing white, a bridal veil or orange flowers ; indeed, she must wear a bonnet, according to English etiquette.


How to Be Married in Style

The old-time fancy for distributing wedding favors is again in vogue ; directly after the ceremony and while the newly-married pair, with the more immediate relatives, are signing the register, the bridesmaids dispense them. The gifts designed for the lady guests consist of small bows of white satin ribbon tying little sprays of jessamine ; those for the gentlemen are a spray of oak-leaves and acorns without ribbon, while the bridesmaids’ favors have some distinctive mark, such as a spray of forget-me-not. Their bouquets are the gift of the bridegroom and are sent before the ceremony with the locket or other souvenir which he presents them. He also furnishes the bride with her flowers for the occasion. 


When the service takes place in church; the ceremony is generally performed entirely at the communion rails ; but in High Churches, the actual ceremony, in England particularly, takes place in the body of the church, and the bridal party, preceded by officiating clergy, moves on into the chancel for the subsequent portion of the service. All arrangement as to fees, etc., are confided to the best man ; while the chief bridesmaid’s duty is to take the bride’s bouquet and gloves when the service begins. The interval between the arrival of the guests at the house and the breakfast is generally employed in an inspection of the wedding presents, which are spread out for examination on a variety of tables – one for plate, another for jewelry, one for china, one for glass ornaments, etc., each gift being accompanied by a slip of paper, bearing the name of the donor. 

Wedding breakfasts are now often arranged on the plan of a ball supper, with several round tables and a long buffet, where the majority of the company take their lunch standing, the tables being appropriated to the relatives of the bridegroom and the principal guests. Frequently, however, the old custom of a sitting-down breakfast is adhered to, and if it is, the wedding-cake is placed in the centre of the table, and the bride and bridegroom take their places opposite to it. In the former plan, the cake is placed in the centre of the buffet. When breakfast is announced, the bride and bridegroom lead the way to the dining-room ; the bride’s father follows with the bridegroom’s mother, and seats himself next to his daughter; the bridegroom’s father comes in next with the bride’s mother, and place her beside the bridegroom. Very frequently the bridesmaids all sit opposite to the bride, accompanied by the gentlemen who have been desired by the hostess to take them down ; the best man invariably taking the chief bridesmaid. 

Speeches are now confined, when there are any at all, to the health of the bride and bridegroom, proposed in a few words, the fewer the better, by the gentleman of the highest rank present. The bridegroom, in returning thanks, sometimes proposes the health of the bridesmaids, for whom the best man briefly responds. There should be no other toasts, and even these may be well dispensed with. The bride puts the knife into the cake, which has been cut before the drinking of the healths, and it is expected that every one will eat a small piece for good luck. When the bride comes into the drawing-room in her travelling-dress to say good-bye, white satin slippers and rice are thrown, the best man and  bridesmaids dispensing the former, while the latter is showered upon the departing pair exclusively by matrons. The fashion of sending cards and cake has gone entirely out of style. 

When a widow marries, the wedding differs on several points. There are neither bridesmaids nor favors, and the lady is debarred wearing white, a bridal veil or orange flowers ; indeed, she must wear a bonnet, according to English etiquette. If a young lady, however, marries a widower, there is no difference made between the arrangements for her wedding and those described.– Daly Alta, 1877


Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J Graber, is the Site Editor for the Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia