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.

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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

British Royal Wedding Required Traditions


Meghan-Markle-royal-wedding

photo by JANE BARLOW/AFP/Getty Images

With all the buzz about England’s next Royal Wedding between Prince Harry and Ms. Meghan Markle, Miss Meredith Sweetpea’s mind has turned to romance. There are so many things to consider when planning a wedding. Especially so when marrying into the royal family.

In British tradition, there are a number of age-old royal wedding requirements.

  • The monarch must permit the marriage in writing for the six heirs closest in line to the throne.
  • A formal engagement announcement must be made by Kensington Palace, followed by a public photo session and joint interview. Prince Harry and Ms. Markle posed for the press in the Sunken Gardens at Kensington Palace.
  • The king or queen is the Head of the Protestant Anglican Church of England, therefore they and anyone they marry must be a member of the Church of England or they will lose the right to the throne. Ms. Markle will be baptized into the Church of England prior to the wedding.
  • Royal brides must wear a white gown, and customary lace, ever since Queen Victoria wore a white gown at her wedding to Prince Albert in 1840.
  • Royal grooms must wear a military uniform. Prince Albert was the one to start this trend.
  • Continue reading

Am I the Granddaughter of King Henry VIII? | Meredith Sweetpea


Henry_Carey_King_Henry_VIII_comparison

L: Henry Carey; R: King Henry VIII; Middle: mashup of the two. The resemblance is uncanny. Could he be King Henry VIII’s son?

When Miss Meredith Sweetpea read the best-selling historical novel “The Other Boleyn Girl” she was captivated by the story, and read the entire book in one sitting. Have you read it?

The story, written by British historian Philippa Gregory, tells the tale of Mary Boleyn, Anne Boleyn’s older sister, who had a long-term affair with, and two children by, King Henry VIII prior to his meeting and subsequently marrying Anne. It is told from Mary’s point of view, beginning with Mary at the naive age of 14.

This book penetrated my mind, and for years, lingered with a familiarity unclaimed by any other novel. Continue reading

Why Should I Wear a Fascinator on the Right?


Camilla-fascinator-on-right

Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall wears a fascinator.

A number of kind readers have been asking Miss Meredith Sweetpea lately why a fascinator is traditionally worn on the right-hand side of the head.

The custom runs far back into history to when women were generally accompanied by men when they walked down the street. Women of any stature would rarely have occasion to walk alone; she was escorted by her husband, or if single, her father or brother. And of course, both men and women always wore a hat whenever outdoors.

Wearing the Fascinator on the Right Made Perfect Sense

Men traditionally carried their weapon, such as a sword, on their left-hand side, so it made sense that when walking with a woman (when armed), she walk on his right-hand side. Even when men no longer carried swords, the tradition of putting the women on a man’s right continued.

Catherine-Duchess-of-Cambridge-wears-fascinator-on-right

Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge wears her fascinator on the right.

Another reason to put the women on a man’s right was to position the man between the woman and the street to help protect her fine skirts from becoming splashed by passing carriages or horses traversing the often-muddy roadways.

Therefore, in order to have conversation when walking down the street, a women would tilt her hat to the right to offer a better view of her face to her companion. This also prettily framed her face perfectly for flirting, which only added to her fascination. The pert angle of the hat took on the name “fascinator.”

Today’s milliners often design a fascinator to sit on the right-hand side, in keeping with tradition. But many fascinators are made to suit either side of the face, or to be worn in the center of the head at a slightly forward angle toward. Some people even prefer to wear their fascinator to cover the part in their hair, believing it more attractive worn that way.

There is no hard-and-fast rule about which side is the correct side to wear a fascinator. It is simply up to you to choose.

Woman are Always Right

The tradition of having the women walk on the inside of the man on the street carries on today with polite men and women. Remember the catchphrase, “Women are always right” and it will be easy to remember.

Read More About Fascinators

For more information about fascinators, read our other posts:

Find Your Perfect Fascinator

  • Do you have a fascinator? Browse more than a thousand darling Fascinators! You might just find one that’s perfect for your look.

 

When did Groundhog Day Start?


Punxsatawney-Phil-groundhog

Punxsatawney Phil on Groundhog Day

On February 2, 1887, Punxsatawney, Pennsylvania newspaper editor Clymer Freas invented the idea of Groundhog Day. According to reports, he convinced a group of businessmen and groundhog hunters known as the Punxsatawney Groundhog Club to trek to a site called Gobbler’s Knob to hold an “official” ceremony. If the groundhog saw his shadow, it would be considered bad news.

In modern days, the February festivities that attract tens of thousands of spectators over three days are presided over by the Inner Circle, a band of local dignitaries who wear top hats and speak in the traditional Pennsylvania Dutch dialect (supposedly this is called “Groundhogese”). This well-known groundhog is known as “Punxsatawney Phil.”

Tradition states that if the groundhog emerges from his burrow and sees his shadow on this day, six more weeks of winter will follow. If he does not see his shadow, it means an indication of an early spring. Maybe we shouldn’t rely on Phil’s forecast so much though, the National Climatic Data Center and the Canadian weather service report his accuracy at less than 40%. Yet still, it is a fun tradition that continues today.

Ancient Significance of February 2nd

The date of February 2nd falls midway between the winter solstice and the spring equinox and was noted for its significance by many ancient cultures. Continue reading

Victorian Inventions We Couldn’t Live Without Today | Meredith Sweetpea


Victorian-woman-on-sewing-machine

A fine Victorian invention

We see lines at the electronics store when the new smartphone comes out, and frenzies at the toy store when a popular doll is sold out.  Miss Meredith Sweetpea was wondering what inventions Victorians made that we couldn’t live without today.

Telephone

The telephone was invented by Alexander Graham Bell and patented in 1876. He just barely Continue reading

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