Victorian Wedding Traditions


In Victorian England, namely the Victorian Age, certain wedding traditions were popular. Then again, Queen Victoria herself was responsible for setting some new ones.

Victorian White Wedding Gowns

Queen Victoria wedding photo

Queen Victoria and Prince Albert’s 1840 wedding

Queen Victoria was the person who made wearing a white wedding dress popular. At her 1840 wedding she wore a white gown trimmed with Honiton lace. Before that, blue was the most popular color, as blue was the symbol for purity. Women most often wore their “best dress”, and if you were wealthy, you showed off your status with rich fabrics like silk, satin or velvet in beautiful hues. Red and gold were popular colors.

The veil was attached to a coronet of flowers, often containing orange blossoms. The bride also wore accessories such as kid gloves, an embroidered handkerchief, silk stockings, and flat shoes decorated with ribbons and bows.

In Victorian England, the entire wedding was intended to be white, with bridesmaids, attendants, and girls also wearing white. You still see this in the British royal weddings of today.

Victorian Men’s Wedding Clothing

The groom’s fashion at a Victorian wedding changed throughout the years. At the beginning of the Victorian era, men wore a frock coat in blue, claret or mulberry, but by mid-reign, this went out of fashion. Men then began to wear the dark coats and black top hat that we still see today. The father of the bride dressed similarly to the groom.

Children’s Wedding Clothing

Children were included in Victorian weddings, with white muslin dresses for the girls with a wide ribbon sash, and green, blue, black or red velvet jackets and short pants for the boys. A round linen collar for the boys was fastened with a large bow.

Bridal Processional Music

Victorian wedding dress photo

Victorian wedding dress

Queen Victoria’s daughter, Victoria, is said to be the person who popularized using the “Bridal March” by Richard Wagner to walk down the aisle to her groom in her 1858 wedding. Since everyday people wanted to emulate the royals, style was often set by the monarchs and their family members.

Victorian Wedding Flowers

Queen Victoria carried orange blossoms in her bouquet, and to this day, British royal brides also carry orange blossoms tucked into their bouquets.

Victorian Engagement Rings

Victorians were said to have started the tradition of giving an engagement ring as a promise of commitment. A Victorian engagement ring often featured a snake with ruby eyes rather than a diamond as we have today. With Victorians big on symbolism, the snake symbolized eternity.

Victorian Wedding Dates

Previous weddings often took place according to the agricultural calendar with the summer harvest months being less popular. October was the most popular month to marry (as it is today). With the advent of the Industrial Age, people had more freedom as to when they would marry. Weddings took place on Sundays when people were off work, and until 1886, they took place between the hours of 8 am and noon. Later, these hours were lengthened to 3 pm to accommodate working hours and social schedules.

Victorian Wedding Ceremony

Currier & Ives Victorian wedding print

A 1942 Currier & Ives print of a Victorian wedding

By the year 1900, two-thirds of Victorian weddings took place in an Anglican church. One-sixth of couples held a civil ceremony in a registrar’s office, made legal by the Marriage Act of 1836. From 1856, non-Christian places of worship could also be registered for marriage ceremonies. Girls could marry at age 12, and boys could marry at age 14, but the marriage was not considered “binding” until they reached the legal age of 21.

Victorian Wedding Breakfasts

Since Victorian weddings most often occurred in the morning, guests were treated to a breakfast or brunch instead of an all-night reception. Three wedding cakes were prepared: a fruitcake for the guests, a light-colored cake for the bride, and a dark cake for the groom. The bride’s cake was not eaten, but packed away for the 25th anniversary.

Secret Honeymoons

It was consider in bad taste to brag about where a married couple would honeymoon. Following the cutting of the cake, the best man delivered the newlyweds to the train station where they would head off to their destination.

Is Say Nothing, Do Nothing the Right Choice?


say nothing, do nothing

Miss Meredith Sweetpea often runs across situations where there is an obvious problem or slight, yet nobody says anything. For example, I was standing in line at a sandwich shop when a gentleman walks in and approaches the counter to order his lunch. The woman in front of me did not step up to say she was next in line. The person behind the counter did nothing either. But I said, “Excuse me, but there is a line, and this lady is next.” The gentleman looked back and then realized there was a line and graciously took his place behind me, apologizing for his mistake.His error was an innocent one because the line in this particular sandwich shop was held about 4 feet back from the counter at a “Wait Here” sign.

But this particular situation got me to wondering is “say nothing, do nothing” the right choice?

There are several ways to look at situations to decide whether to speak up or not.

Is it life or death?

If there is a circumstance where someone could be injured or killed, it is always best to step up and say or do something. I once caught a toddler as he tumbled off the end of a dock into the murky waters of a marina. I stepped in when I saw the child careening towards the edge. But nobody else did or said anything even though they all saw the situation as clearly as I did. I jumped up and grabbed the boy by the back of his shirt just as he hit the water. If I hadn’t, would the boy have been sucked under the boats and drowned? I shudder to think of it.

What if your friend had too much to drink and was getting ready to drive home. Would you stop him, take away the keys and drive him home…or do or say nothing?

Do you need to stand up for your own rights?

As in the example with the sandwich shop, I had patiently followed the rules and waited in line. Whereas most people would write off the interloper and grumble about it silently, I stood up for my rights in that situation by politely, but firmly, stating that there was a line. Was I subject to embarrassment or humiliation? Possibly. But I chose to take the chance to speak up for myself. 99.9% of the time, it turns out for the best. By the way, the woman in front of me turned to thank me. She was in a hurry to pick up her kids and was already running late. I wondered why she didn’t speak up.

Can you improve someone else’s life?

If I see a situation where I can help, I step in to do something. Recently a woman was navigating an overloaded cart at BJ’s (and you know how big those carts are) while trying to push her elderly mother in a wheelchair. Dozens of people watched as she struggled to push the chair and lug the cart across the store and out into the parking lot. Once in the parking lot, the ground slanted downward and I could see a disaster in the making, not only for the two women, but for the cars parked there. Continue reading

Few Hours More Agreeable | Tea Quotes


cup-of-tea

“There are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated
to the ceremony known as afternoon tea.”

–Henry James, author

Victorian Rules for an Unmarried Woman | Meredith Sweetpea


victorian-womanIn the Victorian years there were strict standards for how men and women were to behave. Those who did not follow these rules were ostracized or shunned in polite society. These expectations were set in stone, and especially held dear to the unmarried women in a community.

Rules for the Single Victorian Woman

  • Never go out alone. Always be accompanied by a female companion or a male family member.
  • Do not ride in a closed carriage with a man who is not a relative.
  • Do not receive gentleman callers when alone at the house.
  • When receiving a gentleman caller, another family member must be present in the room.
  • Never visit an unmarried gentleman at his residence.
  • Never speak about impure topics among other single women.
  • Do not touch a gentleman when walking together; only accept his hand of assistance if needed to navigate.
  • Never address someone unless introduced to them.

In addition, a single woman was to uphold her innocence at all costs. She was not to show her intelligence, but rather, to submit to the gentlemen in the room. Political talk was always scorned upon.

Love and Courtship of the Unmarried Victorian Woman

Victorian-courtship

Victorian love and courtship

When it came to love and courtship, an unmarried Victorian woman was encourage to marry up and never down. She often brought a dowry to the marriage, especially if she was from an upper class family, and he must prove that he was of equal or better standing than she by disclosing his financial situation. Continue reading

Phones at a Meal–A Big No-No


phone-at-restaurant-table

Put the phone away when eating out.

When Miss Meredith Sweetpea goes to lunch or dinner with a friend, she expects to be the sole focus of that friend for the duration of the meal. And vice versa. After all, you’ve set aside the time, energy and effort to spend time with this chosen person–not to sit and watch them interact with faceless others.

What is thoroughly annoying–and in bad manners–is when the other person places his or her phone on the table in front of them in order to continually check its oh-so-important messages. Throughout the meal, the conversation is continually interrupted by the ding of a new message, or the urgency to text back to someone. This makes the person you are with feel much less important and frustrated.

The only time it is acceptable to bring your phone out during a meal is if you expecting a very important phone call, and it is important to let the other person know in advance that you may be interrupted by this call. Otherwise, turn off the ringer and stash the phone out of sight and out of mind to concentrate on your dinner partner. Believe me, you’ll survive.

cell-phones-in-restaurant

Sadly, is this you?

Put the Phone Away and Make Human Connections

Think of the other person at the table as your invited guest–no matter who did the inviting. It is your job to be both a good host and a good guest throughout the meal. That means engaging both your conversational and listening skills.

Your life will not stop if you put away the phone for an hour or so. In fact, it will be enhanced by the interesting conversation and relationship building you will be engaging in. This world is all about human connections; not electronic ones.

Statistics show that people are lonelier now than ever, with a big part of that loneliness being attributed to social media. We’re not making real connections or building friendships that can last a lifetime. Continue reading

Book: Suck Your Stomach In & Put Some Color On!


Suck-Your-Stomach-In-book

Order the Book!

Miss Meredith Sweetpea came across a cute book recently called Suck Your Stomach In & Put Some Color On: What Southern Mamas Tell Their Daughters That the Rest of Y’all Should Know Too, by Shellie Rushing Tomlinson, host of All Things Southern.

According to the book jacket, “Here’s everything you need to know from coping with the unexpected, competing in the Mr. Right Game Show, and raising children–to how to keep that marriage knot tied tight over time.” It is “Chock-full of Southern wit and wisdom, woven with quotes from real Southern Mamas, and sprinkled with recipes and other Southern secrets.”

Ever since the days of Scarlett O’Hara and beyond, Southern manners have showcased a woman’s “class” in Southern society. Without proper manners, a woman just “wouldn’t be accepted” into polite company.

I love all the little quotes from real Southern mothers, like:

  • “Never date anyone you wouldn’t consider marrying. You never know when you’ll fall in love.” –Lissa Spears, Natchez, Mississippi
  • “Southern ladies speak softly.”  –Monda Leggett, Denham Springs, Louisiana
  • “Just because it fits doesn’t mean you oughta wear it.”  –Tracy Nicholson, Thomasville, North Carolina
  • Continue reading

Love Quotes: Love is Something You Do


love-hearts-Meredith-SweetpeaTo honor Valentine’s Day, Miss Meredith Sweetpea likes to remind everyone of a powerful quote by the spiritual leader David Wilkerson that says:

Love is not something you feel, it is something you do.

Wow. Are you spending your life waiting for love to find you, or are you out there giving love and acting in a loving manner? Remember, when you give love freely, it comes back to you threefold.

Love is Something You Do For Others

Think of an example when you didn’t feel very loving toward someone, yet acted in a kind and loving manner. Perhaps you met someone at church or in a social setting who was sad. Did you take a moment to feel their sadness and respond accordingly, or did you act impatient and look for an escape? Sometimes just taking a moment to listen completely and offer a gentle, kind and appropriate response can make all the difference in a person’s day. As a bonus, it also makes you feel good.

Do you look for ways to help others? On this Valentine’s Day, not everyone has a sweetheart with whom to share the day. Perhaps they are newly single or widowed. Maybe they are new in town. Look for singles and invite them to join you–either on the holiday or some day this week. Let them know that they are special and loved even if it’s not Valentine’s Day.

Love is Something You Do for Your Family

Don’t forget your family members. I’m sure there are people in your own family who need your loving care right now. We often forget those who are closest to us as we look to make a difference in the world. Be sure to treat your family members in a loving way, even if you don’t really feel loving at the moment. Did you tell everyone in your own family today that you love them? Or show it in some way? If not, do it now.

Love is Something You Do for Yourself

Even if there is nobody who gives you love today, you can still love yourself. Treat yourself as the important, kind and loving person you are. There is no shame in treating yourself to some kindness. Think of ways you can pamper or indulge yourself, be it a good book, a dinner out, or a candlelit bath.

Miss Meredith Sweetpea wishes everyone a sweet and happy Valentine’s Day. And remember, love is an active choice; not a waiting game.

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