Training for a Victorian Marriage | Victorian Weddings

image of Victorian woman teaching sewing to young Victorian womanIt’s June again and Miss Meredith Sweetpea is preparing for two weddings in her own family. As she looks at her niece and nephew who are each getting married, she ruminates on how little training we receive nowadays for marriage. We are supposed to meet “the one,” fall in love, hold a big wedding and live happily ever after.

In Victorian times more attention was paid to preparing women for marriage.

Victorian women were trained from the time they were little girls to become a Continue reading


Can I Wear a Fascinator at My Wedding? | Meredith Sweetpea | Manners & Etiquette

Wear a fascinator at your wedding instead of a veil or tiara.

Yes, you can wear a fascinator to a wedding–whether it is your own wedding or you are attending one. With the popularity of this fashion accessory rising, more and more women are choosing the decorative hairpiece over the traditional long veil or tiara.

Wedding of Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles.

Even Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall wore a fascinator at her own wedding to Prince Charles on 9 April 2005.

A wedding fascinator most likely features lace or a veil that extends across the forehead or down the side of the head when worn. It can also feature flowers (silk or real), feathers, Swarovski crystals, ribbons, or even jewels.

Fascinators for the Bride

What’s nice about a fascinator is that it can remain in place throughout the event, whereas a traditional veil is generally removed or bunched up for the sake of mobility. Miss Meredith Sweetpea had a cathedral length veil at her own wedding, but removed the long veil and replaced it with a fingtertip-length veil for the reception. With a veiled fascinator, you can wear your divine creation all day or evening.

Dos for a Wedding Fascinator

Love in The Victorian Years, 1837-1901

Until recently, Queen Victoria was the longest-reigning monarch, holding reign for 63 years, 216 days, from June 20, 1837 to her death on January 22, 1901. During her reign, the period was known as the Victorian Era, and continued past her death until about 1912. Miss Meredith Sweetpea thinks of all the changes that Queen Victoria must have seen in her 81 years.

Dating in the Victorian Era

Dating in the 18th century was called courting, or informally, sparking, keeping company, carrying on, coming to call or cavorting. Serious courting with the intent to marry, was called a Courtship. During the courting period, women rarely Continue reading


Victorian Weddings: Colors for the Wedding Gown

Brides have not always worn white for their weddings. In fact, it wasn’t until Queen Victoria’s wedding in 1840 that the white wedding gown became a tradition.

16th and 17th century wedding dresses

For example, in the 16th and 17th centuries, teenage girls married wearing pale green dresses: a sign of fertility. A girl in her 20s was considered “mature,” and she wore a brown dress. “Older” women wore black dresses.

Only poor girls wore white

From the early Saxon times to the 18th century, only the poorest girls wore white, symbolizing that she brought nothing to the marriage. Other brides wore their “best dress.”

The wedding gown’s color foretold the bride’s future

Brides thought that the color of their gown would foretell their future life, and here is what they thought each color represented: Continue reading


Royal Wedding Flowers | Victorian Weddings

Wedding of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert

When Queen Victoria married Prince Albert in 1840, she started some traditions that changed the world, including some with flowers.

Queen Victoria’s bouquet carried a small posy filled with snowdrops (supposedly Prince Albert’s favorite flower). She also planted myrtle at her garden in the Osborne House on the Isle of Wight after her wedding, also known as “the herb of love.”

Since her wedding, it has been a tradition to use a sprig from that same shrub in all royal bouquets.

Flowers can make a statement all their own. Take the April 29, 2011 wedding of Britain’s Prince William and Catherine Middleton, for example.

Catherine Middleton's bridal bouquet, April 29, 2011

Catherine’s bouquet flowers featured lily of the valley, sweet William and hyacinth, flowers of significance to both sides of the family.

Myrtle stands for love, lily of the valley for sweetness and humility, and sweet William for gallantry, or its obvious reference to the name of the groom. She also included the sprig of myrtle from Queen Victoria’s shrub.

Flowers adorn William and Catherine's wedding attendants

Maid of honor Pippa Middleton did not carry a bouquet, rather, to keep her hands free for the train and to help guide the young children, she wore a small spray of the same flowers in her hair.

All four young bridesmaids wore garlands of flower in their hair, and the two oldest each carried a pomander of flowers that hung from their wrists.


Children in the Victorian Wedding | Victorian Weddings

Ah, it’s June, which makes Miss Meredith Sweetpea think of weddings. And what is sweeter than children in a wedding.

But what did the Victorians do?

The April 29, 2011 wedding of Britain’s Prince William and Catherine Middleton featured children’s dress styles very much following the Victorian tradition set by Queen Victoria, as you can see in their official portraits.

Children in the Victorian Wedding…and the modern wedding

In the Victorian wedding, girls’ dresses were either long or short and were most likely made of white muslin and featured a ribbon sash that matched their stockings and shoes. The girls in this photograph match that tradition.

Boys generally dressed in pageboy outfits consisting of velvet jackets in red, green, black, or blue, short trousers and round linen collars. Their collars were most likely tied up with large white bows made of crepe de chine. A hat was optional, but should match the velvet color, and was removed for the church ceremony.  Black shoes were the norm, unless it was a formal wedding. In that case, they might wear white shoes and stockings, and have buckles on their shoes.

In William and Catherine’s wedding, the boys wear an even more formal, military-like outfit, but still hold with the traditional Victorian pageboy style of short pants, white stockings and shoe buckles.

The children’s role in Victorian weddings

Children were often a part of Victorian weddings. Older girls often served as junior bridesmaids or maids of honor, while the littlest ones could be flower girls or ring bearers. The ring bearer and flower girls walk before the bride and her father or escort, but behind the rest of the bridal party that went down the aisle first. The flower girls scatter rose petals from a basket onto the floor for the bride to walk on.

Generally it was the boys–but not always–who served as the trainbearers. They walked in pairs behind the bride and her father and held the bride’s train. In the case of Will and Kate’s wedding, it was the bride’s sister Pippa Middleton who served as the trainbearer.

Images by Paul Rogers/PA Wire, Reuters and Getty Images.


Victorian Weddings: Choosing the Day

The Wedding Day has arrived, the most important event in a Victorian girl’s life. The day her mother has prepared her for since the day she was born. The Victorian girl knew no other ambition. She would marry, and she would marry well.

Choosing the Day

The wedding itself and events leading up to it are steeped in ancient traditions still evident in Victorian customs. The first is to choose the month and day of the wedding.

June has always been the most popular month for it is named for Juno, Roman goddess of marriage. Juno would bring prosperity and happiness to all who wed in her month.

Practicality played a part in this logic too. If married in June, the Victorian bride was likely to give birth to her first child in Spring, allowing her enough time to recover before the next fall harvest.

June also signified the end of Lent and the arrival of warmer weather. And that meant it was time to remove the winter clothing and take the annual bath.

In addition to June, April, November and December were also months favored for weddings as not to conflict with peak farm work months. October was auspicious, signifying a bountiful harvest. May was considered unlucky, taking from a proverb that states “Marry in May and rue the day.” Another proverb states, “Marry in September’s shine, your living will be rich and fine.”

In the Southern United States, April was favored as it was less hot, and a bride’s favorite flowers were in bloom: jasmine and camellia.

Brides were superstitious about days of the week too. A popular rhyme goes:

Marry on Monday for health,
Tuesday for wealth,
Wednesday the best day of all,
Thursday for crosses,
Friday for losses, and
Saturday for no luck at all.

–excerpted from

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