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Wedding History - Weddings From The 1880's
( Originally Published 1954 )
In this decade the family picture album became quite general throughout the land. Even our relatives who were farming the western prairies took time out for a wedding photograph. George Eastman's Kodak also came on the market, and with it the opportunity for informal snapshots of bridal affairs. As a result, we have wide choice for sampling the era's belles and beaus.
The long engagement was becoming fashionable, and while there was less emphasis on an elaborate bridal trousseau, the ceremony itself took on added glamour. Preparations began three months in advance, with hand painted white satin cake boxes. Stationers got a big order-engraved invitations enclosed with a -"church" or "usher" card and "breakfast card" for a high noon wedding. The "old fashioned (70's) custom" of having bridesmaids and escorts lead the wedding procession followed by the bride's mother on the arm of the groom was now replaced by having the bride lead, preceeded only by the flower girls.
The entire church was decorated instead of just the altar, and songs were introduced to supplement the organ processionals. The soloist was usually a friend of the family, but in large weddings a full vested choir might be used. The bridesmaids carried flowers, and a new type bridal bouquet made its appearance-blooms arranged loosely with pendants of ribbons and vines falling from them. First called a "chatelaine," after 1900 it became known as a "shower" bouquet.
The practice of having clergymen kiss the bride was now discontinued as "unwarranted liberty" and "an osculatory display not calculated to tie the matrimonial knot any tighter." Some society matrons even put a ban on the bride's being kissed-even after the ceremony-by any- one but her husband; it was "not considered in keeping with the dignified occasion." And dignified indeed were some of the wedding parties of the day. Formalities of the reception line were stressed to the detriment of exchanging intimate family pleasantries. The wedding tended to be-come, in fact, a "front" exhibited for benefit of the entire town. Yet as we look over the album portraits of our relatives of this period, we catch many a sparkling eye. Love and laughter were not buried under by all the bustle, ostentation and formal display.