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Marriage In The Society World

  Only wealthy marriages are tolerated in New York society. For men or women to marry beneath them is a crime society cannot forgive. There must be fortune on one side at least. Marriages for money are directly encouraged. It is not uncommon for a man who has won a fortune to make the marriage of his daughter the means of getting his family into society. He will go to some young man within the pale of good society, and offer him the hand of his daughter and a fortune. The condition demanded of the aforesaid young man is that he shall do what may lie within his power to get the family of the bride within the charmed circle. If the girl is good looking, or agreeable, the offer is rarely refused.

When a marriage is decided upon, the engagement is announced through one of the "society newspapers," of which there are several. It is the bounden duty of the happy pair to be married in a fashionable church. To be married in or buried from Grace or St. Thomas's Church, is the desire of every fashionable heart. Invitations are issued to the friends of the two families, and no one is admitted into the church without a card. Often "no cards" are issued, and the church is jammed by the outside throng, who profane the holy temple by their unmannerly struggles to secure places from which to view the ceremony. Two clergymen are usually engaged to tie the knot, in order that a Divorce Court may find it the easier to undo. A reporter is on hand, who furnishes the city papers with a full description of the grand affair. The dresses, the jewels, the appearance of the bride and groom, and the company generally, are described with all the eloquence Jenkins is master of.

If the wedding be at Grace Church, Brown, "the great sexton" is in charge. A wedding over which he presides is sure to be a great success. A wonderful man is Brown. No account of New York society would be complete without a few words about Brown. He has been sexton of Grace Church ever since the oldest inhabitant can remember, and those familiar with the matter are sorely puzzled to know what the church will do when Brown is gathered to his fathers. The congregation would sooner part with the best Rector they have ever had than give up Brown. A certain Rector did once try to compel him to resign his post because he, the Rector, did not fancy Brown's ways, which he said were hardly consistent with the reverence due the house of God.

The congregation, however, were aghast at the prospect of losing Brown, and plainly gave the Rector to understand that he must not interfere with the sexton. Never mind about his want of reverence. The Rector's business was to look after the religious part of the congregation, while Brown superintended the secular affairs of that fashionable corporation. They had use for the Rector only on Sunday; but Brown they looked up to every day in the week. The Rector meekly subsided, and brown forgave him.

Fashionable weddings are very costly affairs. The outfits of the bride and groom cost thousands of dollars, the extravagance of the man being fully equal to that of his bride. A wedding is attended with numerous entertainments, all of which are costly, and the expenses attendant upon the affair itself are enormous. The outlay is not confined to the parties immediately concerned, the friends of the happy pair must go to great expense to give to the bride elegant and appropriate presents. One, two, or three rooms, as may be required, are set apart at every fashionable wedding, for the display of the presents. These are visited and commented upon by the friends of the bride and groom, such being the prescribed custom. The presents are frequently worth a handsome fortune. At the marriage of the daughter of a notorious politician not long since, the wedding presents were valued at more than $250,000. Efforts have been repeatedly made to put a stop to the giving of such costly presents, but the custom still continues.

Website: The History
Article Name: Marriage In The Society World
Researcher/Transcriber: Miriam Medina


Bibliography:  Sights and Sensations of the Great City by James Dabney McCabe. Publisher: National Publication Co. 1872 Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Time & Date Stamp:  


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