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Wedding History - Weddings From The 1890's
( Originally Published 1954 )
In contrast with the over-formality of the preceding decades, the 1890's were truly "gay." This stands revealed in the photographs of our relatives who married at that time. When before could the bride be caught -on her wedding day-up in a tree! Home rather than church weddings were coming back into favor, and our album shows some delightful informals of these family affairs. From having many bridesmaids, the preference turned to smaller wedding parties. Sometimes the bride went unattended; more frequently she had a "maid of honor" (previously this name was much used to refer to small flower girls). Fashion magazines continued to stress formal costumes for the wedding party (such a page is preserved in the album), but by and large there was greater room for individuality in wedding dress than ever before. In the public press attention was now paid to "going away costume."
After the ceremony, the bride and groom's first duty was to cut and serve the wedding cake. Thus was revived an old and simpler customfor some time superceded-by having the cake cut, wrapped and boxed before the wedding. The cake now became a light white `bride's' cake, But the older custom of a dark cake often persisted alongside . . . now called a `groom's' cake. Indoor and outdoor games were often played after the wedding feast, with dancing occasionally. One etiquette book of the period cautioned guests to congratulate only the groom-"No one ever congratulates the bride."
One is struck with the general sensibleness of this age regarding weddings. Though many elaborately gowned and frock-coated affairs were held, the rank and file of our relatives chose a wedding trousseau that would be useful in the days afterwards. And while many grooms still bowed to the old practice of buying a silk vest especially for the ceremony, it was generally considered incorrect to buy new male apparel unless a favorite suit needed replacement. Honeymoons, as a rule, were less extended and of more varied locale. Tying of shoes on the going away vehicle was taken from an old Hindu `good luck' custom, a practice which in America soon lost its symbolism and became a hilarious `just married' routine. With the shoes came rice and confetti throwing, and we were well launched on another famed tradition.