Yesterday was cause for celebration. My in-laws, who I’ve known and loved for 18 years, celebrated their 46th wedding anniversary. Perhaps I’m biased, but I have yet to see another couple so well-suited as they. They truly complement each other in personality, temperament, humor, and taste, and bring a balance and harmony to their union that is sincerely inspirational to everyone in our family.
In the last pages of their wedding album I happened upon a newspaper clipping that featured a picture of my mother-in-law in her wedding gown, as well as written details of her dress, her family, my father-in-law’s family, their occupations, prospects, and future residence. I loved reading it. One part especially, caught my eye, though, and it appeared as follows:
The bride’s gown was Chantilly Lace. She wore a crown of silk illusion, contour style, shirred to a crown of seed pearls and crystals.
Isn’t that absolutely divine? (I wish I thought to scan the photo!) It immediately made me think of romance and (you guessed it) Jane Austen and the differences between our two periods.
In a nutshell, while many modern brides in Western cultures generally choose to wear a white gown (or some variation of white, such as cream or ivory), that wasn’t necessarily the case in Regency England; nor did the trend back then tend toward ordering an especially made gown for a lady’s wedding. Often, a Regency bride would choose to wear a gown already in her possession, and more often than not it was not white. (Are you shocked?)
While contemporary brides usually wear their wedding gown only once—on the day of their nuptials and never again—a Regency bride made sure she’d get more than one wearing out of her gown. She made good use of it on Sundays for church, or for other engagements that might require her to dress more elegantly. In my opinion, it was a very good way to make the most out of a garment that marked such a significant milestone for the lady who wore it.
With this Regency custom in mind, I can promise you that things would have been very different if I had only had the nerve to choose the elegant yellow dress I’d eyed longingly at a small boutique instead of the poofy white gown I was married in (pretty as it was). Now, instead of seeing the light of day, my poor wedding gown hangs at the back of a dark closet, swathed in plastic, never to be worn again except for an occasional princess tea when my daughter was younger. At the ripe age of 8 yrs. she’s already up to my shoulders, so passing it on to her when she marries is not going to be an option. The future, regrettably, looks grim for my poor gown.
Those Regency ladies were certainly on to something. Kudos to them for being so practical. (And shame on me for being so short!)