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Wedding History - Weddings From The 1870's
( Originally Published 1954 )
The things that stand out in our wedding pictures of the 70's are the bustle and the trend (away from gold) to all-white wedding jewelry. Diamonds and pearls in combination were coveted by most every bride. The preferred engagement ring, now coming into prominence, was a halt loop style with five or six diamonds in a crown setting-suggestive of a diamond tiara across the finger. The wedding dress reached a high point of elegance and expense. HAUTE COUTURE was Worth of Paris. His fabulous gowns were exhibited at the Philadelphia Centennial and shipped all over the world. Copies of his intricate cascades and bandings were widely attempted on the home sewing machine. It was Worth who popularized the long train for every fashionable wedding. Complete bridal dresses now sported a coat, lined with same material as the dress. The trousseau ("a dozen of everything") featured the be-ribboned negligee, called a "combing jacket."
This is the first decade in which our album shows a bride throwing her bouquet. Guests stood below as she mounted the stairs to change into her `going away' costume. The girl catching the bouquet was supposed to be the next married. Few saw the bride after she changed; the newlyweds were usually allowed to slip out quietly while the guests made merry.
The honeymoon was now standard practice and our album carries several rare views of "where they went." In the West it could be San Francisco's Cliffside House, in the East and South it could be one of the fashionable watering places, Warm Springs or Saratoga; or there might be a trip down the Ohio or Mississippi on a "Palace Steamer." Niagara Falls still continued to attract thousands, albeit a bit "common," due to the new railroad and its excursion rates. Our album pictures still show little or nothing of the groom, but we can see plenty of bridal finery. This was the decade when the "coming out bride" was a highly popular practice. All over America, couples would promenade to church on the first Sunday after their wedding so the bride could show off her new travelling clothes. In many churches it was even customary for the newlyweds to sit in the front pew and at the singing of the second hymn to turn around and face the congregation so all could have a better look at the finery. Certainly very charming ladies, these bygone relatives of ours, whose faces speak out to us from the album!