Wedding Traditions Of The 1800’s
Most of our modern wedding traditions have roots from the past and have been passed down from generation to generation, with many changes along the way. You may, as you plan your wedding, wonder why we have these wedding traditions in are weddings or where did they come from?
Have you ever seen those old wedding photos where the bride is wearing a black dress, instead of a white one, along with a white veil? It seems a bit odd, but the reason is that in the 1800’s it was considered the Victorian Era after the reign of Queen Victoria of England, who served as queen, from 1837-1901. When her husband Prince Albert died, she wore black the rest of her life, therefore other women wore black to honor the Queen.
The weddings of the 1850’s were quite often very solemn as they did not play music at the ceremony, but eventually organ music was introduced before and after the marriage vows were given. Eventually it became customary to have music played at your wedding; however the bride and groom did not pick the music as it was left to the organist to choose.
Gradually two music pieces became the customary songs at weddings, the bridal chorus from Wagner’s Lohengrin and the wedding march, which Mendelssohn wrote for “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” Most weddings at this time were church weddings and the bride did not always wear a white dress. After the couple was married they would have a family feast followed by a group that would escort the newlywed couple back to their room.
In the 1860’s the Godey’s ladies book published a colored spread of bridal dresses and it became an annual event. During this time in America, when it came to the wedding, each family would try to outdo the other and make their wedding more extravagant. In addition, the wedding dress also began to change. Instead of the crinoline, they began to use a hooped skirt and sometimes the bridesmaids would wear a white dress with a veil or a lighter color to add contrast.
At this time bouquets were not used much rather a fan or a handkerchief with a rosary. In California, gold became a big happening, therefore it would be normal to see the bride giving her bridesmaids a gold friendship ring and use of two rings in the ceremony. The younger brother of Napoleon, Jerome, came to America and found his bride in Baltimore where he took her to Niagara Falls, which caused it to become a popular honeymoon spot.
The thing that you notice the most about 1870’s weddings is the change from using only gold to only using white wedding jewelry. The brides of this time only wanted pearls and diamonds and the most popular engagement ring was one with a halt loop style that had five or six diamonds in a crown setting. This ring looked like a diamond tiara on the finger. A popular designer named Worth from Paris designed beautiful wedding dresses that were exhibited at the Philadelphia Centennial and everyone wanted his dresses for their special day.
This time in history is the first time we start to see the throwing of the bouquet, as the bride would head for the stairs to change into her going away clothes, she would toss her bouquet. Honeymoons had now become common practice and most couples would go somewhere after they were married to celebrate.
The 1880’s saw the family photo album of the wedding became more common, as it was usually only the bride who was photographed. Then George Eastman’s Kodak came on the market which gave more opportunity for informal pictures of the occasion. This decade also saw a longer engagement becoming very popular and there was not as much emphasis on the bridal colors, but more was put to the ceremony itself. The planning of the ceremony started three months in advance.
The wedding procession also changed from having the bridesmaids and their escorts followed by the bride’s mother, who was led by the groom, to having the bride lead the way and only proceeded by the flower girls. The kissing of the bride also stopped because it was thought to be undignified at the time. The whole church was decorated instead of just the alter and more songs were introduced into the wedding ceremony to supplement the organ. If it was a large wedding they would have a full choir.