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

Meredith Sweetpea Cited in Nationally-Trending Article on Fascinators


Meghan-Markle-fascinator

Getty Images

Miss Meredith Sweetpea was pleased to have been cited in a nationally-trending article on May 16, 2018 titled: “Royal Wedding: What is a fascinator and where can I get one?” by Debbie Lord, Cox Media Group. In the article, Lord refers to the rules for wearing fascinators as posted in our own extremely-popular blog post titled: “How to Wear a Fascinator.”

As any good royal watcher knows, hats or fascinators are required headwear at any royal wedding in England. This gives us many opportunities to view the stunning fashions that will appear in the wedding venue and among the many people hoping to catch a glimpse of the royal couple.

Fascinators can be worn during the wedding ceremony since they are small enough not to impair the view of people sitting behind. Weating a large hat would be impolite. Fascinators can also be worn the entire day, both inside and out, as they are part of the entire outfit.

Fascinators are generally about four to five inches across at the base, and are either attached to a headband or a hair clip of some sort, and perched atop the head.  A headband itself is not considered an appropriate head covering. A hat would cover the entire head.

Why Do Royals Wear Hats and Fascinators for Formal Occasions?

“When it comes to a special occasion in British society, the special occasion is not complete without a hat,” said Hilary Alexander, fashion director at The Daily Telegraph. No formal attire is complete without a hat, no matter whether you are a royal or a member of the public.

black-fascinatorAccording to the BBC, it is part of royal protocol to wear a hat to all official occasions.

Need a lovely fascinator?

Browse through hundreds of fascinator styles here.

 

 

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

Wedding Omens and Predictions


Queenb-Victoria-Orange-BlossomsFor centuries, people declared that there were omens that could predict weddings and happy marriages. Here are some of the ones the Victorians believed, and some we still believe today:

You (or someone you know) will be married soon when:

  • A chicken enters your house with a straw in its mouth, which it leaves behind.
  • A mockingbird flies over your house.
  • A white dove comes near your house.
  • A spider descends from the ceiling and “dances” up and down.
  • A cow moos at night.

Your marriage will be happy if:

  • You feed a cat at of one of your old shoes just before you marry.
  • A cat sneezes in front of the (or your) bride on the day before the wedding.
  • Either party dreams about the wedding day.
  • You marry in June.
  • Your wedding ceremony lasts between a half hour and an hour (the rising hand of the clock denotes rising fortune.)
  • You marry in the afternoon.
  • You marry on a beautiful day.
  • Continue reading

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

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