When we think of weddings, we think of beautiful white wedding gowns also. But it wasn’t always so. Prior to Victorian times, wedding gowns could be of a variety of colors but not usually white. Why not? Evidently, white gowns were more difficult to maintain requiring quite a bit of care in regards to cleaning them. Colors such as blue, pink, yellow and green were more likely to be utilized as they were lower maintenance. And those of the lower classes might wear a brown or even a black wedding gown.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. How about a little bit of information concerning the wedding itself. Then we’ll look at some gorgeous examples of wedding gowns from past years. These, of course, would be the more expensive gowns that were given great care and preserved until our day. The young women’s ‘best gowns’ would probably have been worn until worn out.
Banns could be read for three weeks in church allowing anyone with objections to a marriage being able to voice those objections. Marriage ceremonies under these circumstances would need to be held between 8:00 AM and noon in a church or chapel. Those who had common or ordinary licenses could marry within fifteen days in their parish but still had to adhere to the 8:00 AM or before noon time period. Special licenses allowed a couple to marry any time and anywhere but because they were expensive, they were out of reach of the average individual.
The marriage ceremony was simple and followed the prescribed service found in the Book of Common Prayer, and it usually had a rather small audience in attendance. This would include family, close friends and possibly some neighbors. Other neighbors and well-wishers would be outside to wish the couple well. The wedding breakfast, held after the wedding, would include other neighbors and friends.
What might seem a little unusual is that a relative or close friend, such as a sister of the bride, would accompany the bride and groom on their honeymoon. There may have been a good reason for that. The couple may not have spent a lot of time alone before the wedding, that conversation might be awkward, and that having a third party accompany them might aid with the transition from single persons to a married couple.
Now, back to the wedding gowns. Today’s wedding gowns may be worn only one time then be kept as a remembrance of that special day. In Regency times and prior times, textiles were expensive, so the wedding gowns would be worn more than once if the brides were not from a wealthy family. Many times, the wedding gown was a young woman’s best gown that would still be in use after the wedding as well. There would be no wedding veil either. This came into vogue during the Victorian era along with some of the customs we still have today. Prior to that time, brides would wear caps, hats, bonnets, or flowers in their hair.
So, what would some of the wedding gowns starting back then look like? Well, let’s see.
I was unable to obtain a year for this particular gown. It looks like it could be from the 17th century but may also just be a copy. But what a gorgeous creation it is no matter its time period.
This beautiful gown is a fine example of different types of handwork and lace.
Wedding dress ca 1779-1780. Norwegian, hand-woven silk satin. glazed linen, cotton, silk trimmings, baleen boning, and hand-stitching.
Many of the wedding dresses that have survived in good shape until today were those of royalty.
1823 Josefina of Sweden’s wedding dress
Princess Mary’s Wedding Dress 1893
Some of these beautiful gowns were made of Irish lace, cotton, or organdy.
Tambour Wedding dress ca. 1905
Lace wedding gown
Organdy wedding dress ca.1860
Then there are the very fancy, brighter colored wedding gowns that seem to be the ones that catch my eye. My goodness. How gorgeous. Enjoy!
ca. 1885 Culture American Medium silk, glass, leather
Victorian silk, pale pink and gold brocade wedding gown 1880.
Wedding gown 1880
1877 Pink Princess gown. Charles Frederick Worth was the courtier who designed the Princess line that is still used today. This gown may be one of his.
Then there are those that are a little bit simpler in design but just as lovely. Enjoy!
English wedding dress and train. Silk satin embroidered with silk thread, pearls, lace, and silk fringe. boned and linen
Belle Époque Wedding Dress 1867
It is amazing how many of these gorgeous wedding gowns have been preserved and can be enjoyed by us today. We have heard that clothes make the man. Well, they also make the woman as well, especially those who are brides and making the most of that special day.
I hope you have enjoyed this small viewing of these beautiful gowns. To see more, please go to my Pinterest page. On two of my pages, (My 1700’s Gowns and My 1830-1910 gowns) have wedding gowns at the beginning of those pages and include some not featured in this post. Enjoy! https://www.pinterest.com/gianna_t/
Reference: Courtship and Marriage in Jane Austen’s World by Maria Grace http://a.co/3YwKsis