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Weddings After Easter

 We may expect a great deal of color in the coming bridal trousseau, beginning at the altar. The bridesmaids have thus lost one chance of distinguishing themselves by a different and a colored dress. But although some eccentric brides may choose to be married in pink, we cannot but believe, from the beautiful dresses which we have seen, that the greater number will continue to be wedded in white; therefore dressmakers need not turn pale.

And all our brides may rejoice that they are not French brides. It is very troublesome to be married in France, especially if one of the high contracting parties be a foreigner. A certificate of baptism is required, together with that of the marriage of the father and mother, and a written consent of the grandfather and grandmother, if either is alive and the parents dead. The names of the parties are then put up on the door of the mairie, or mayor's office, for eleven days. In England there are four ways of getting married. The first is by special license, which enables two people to be married at any time and at any place; but this is very expensive, costing fifty pounds, and is only obtainable through an archbishop. Then there is the ordinary license, which can be procured either at Doctors' Commons or through a clergyman, who must also be a surrogate, and resident in the diocese where the marriage is to take place; both parties must swear that they are of age, or, if minors, that they have the consent of their parents. But to be married by banns is considered the most orthodox as well as the most economical way of proceeding. The banns must be published in the church of the parish in which the lady lives for three consecutive Sundays prior to the marriage, also the same law holds good for the gentleman, and the parties must have resided fifteen days in the parish. Or the knot may be tied at a licensed chapel, or at the office of a registrar, notice being given three weeks previously.

We merely quote these safeguards against imprudent marriages to show our brides how free they are. And perhaps, as we sometimes find, they are too free; there is danger that there may be too much ease in tying the knot that so many wish untied later, judging from the frequency of divorce.

However, we will not throw a damper on that occasion which for whirl and bustle and gayety and excitement is not equaled by any
other day in a person's life. The city wedding in New York is marked first by the arrival of the caterer, who comes to spread the wedding breakfast; and later on by the florist, who appears to decorate the rooms, to hang the floral bell, or to spread the floral umbrella, or to build a grotto of flowers in the bow-window where the happy couple shall stand. Some of the latest freaks in floral fashion cause a bower of tall-growing ferns to be constructed, the ferns meeting over the bridal pair. This is, of course, supposing that the wedding takes place at home. Then another construction is a house entirely of roses, large enough to hold the bride and bridegroom. This is first built of bamboo or light wood, then covered thick with roses, and is very beautiful and almost too fragrant. If some one had not suggested "bathing-house," as he looked at this floral door to matrimony, it would have been perfect. It also looks a little like a confessional. Perhaps a freer sweep is better for both bride and groom. There should not be a close atmosphere, or too many over fragrant flowers; for at a home wedding, however well the arrangements have been anticipated, there is always a little time spent in waiting for the bride, a few presents arrive late, and there is always a slight confusion, so that the mamma is apt to be nervous and flushed, and the bride agitated.

A church wedding involves a great deal more trouble with carriages for the bridesmaids and for the family, and for the bride and her father, who must go together to the church.

Fortunately there is no stern law, if every one is late at church, for the hour appointed, as in England. There the law would read, "The rite of marriage is to be performed between the hours of 8 A.M. and noon, upon pain of suspension and felony with fourteen years' transportation." Such is the stern order to the officiating priests.

The reason for this curious custom and the terrible penalty awaiting its infringement is traceable, it is said, to the wrongs committed on innocent parties by the "hedge" parsons. Also, alas! because our English ancestors were apt to be drunk after midday, and unable to take an oath.

Here the guests arrive first at the church. The groom emerges from the vestry, supported by his best man, and then the organ strikes up the Wedding March.

Two little girls, beautifully dressed in Kate Greenaway hats and white gowns, and with immense sashes, carrying bouquets, come in first; then the bridesmaids, who form an avenue. Then the bride and her father walk up to the altar, where the groom claims her, and her father steps back. The bride stands on the left hand of the bridegroom; her first bridesmaid advances nearly behind her, ready to receive the glove and bouquet. After the ceremony is over, the bride and groom walk down the aisle first, and the children follow; after them the bridesmaids, then the ushers, then the father and mother, and so on. Sometimes the ushers go first, to be ready to cloak the bride, open the doors, keep back the people, and generally preserve order.

The signing of the register in the vestry is not an American custom, but it is now the fashion to have a highly illuminated parchment certificate signed by the newly married pair, with two or three witnesses, the bridesmaids, the best man, the father and mother, and so on, generally being the attesting parties.

If a sit-down wedding breakfast has been arranged, it occurs about half an hour after the parties return from church. An attempt is
being made to return to the manners of the past, and for the bridegroom ( la Sir Charles Grandison) to wait on the guests with a napkin on his arm. This often makes much amusement, and breaks in on the formality. Of course his waiting is very much of a sinecure and a joke.

The table for a wedding breakfast of this sort should be of a horseshoe shape. But for a city wedding, where many guests are to be invited in a circle which is forever widening, this sort of an exclusive breakfast is almost impossible, and a large table is generally spread, where the guests go in uninvited, and are helped by the waiters.

Eight bridesmaids is a fashionable number; and the bride has, of course, the privilege of choosing the dresses. The prettiest toilettes we have seen were of heliotrope _gaze_ over satin; and again clover red, lighted up with white lace. The bonnets were of white chip, with feathers of red, for this last dress; broad hats of yellow satin, with yellow plumes, will surmount the heliotrope bridesmaids. One set of bridesmaids will wear Nile-green dresses, with pink plumes in their coiffures; another set, probably those with the pink bride, will be in white satin and silver.

A bride's dress has lately been ornamented with orange blossoms and lilacs. The veil was fastened on with orange flowers; the corsage bouquet was of orange flowers and lilacs mixed; the lace over-dress was caught up with lilac sprays; the hand bouquet wholly of lilacs; The gardener's success in producing these dwarf bushes covered with white lilacs has given us the beautiful flower in great perfection. Cowslips are to be used as corsage and hand bouquets for bridesmaids' dresses, the dresses being of pale blue surah, with yellow satin Gainsborough hats, and yellow plumes. White gloves and shoes are proper for brides. The white undressed kid or Swedish glove will be the favorite; and high princess dresses with long sleeves are still pronounced the best style.

As for wedding presents, great favor is shown to jewelry and articles somewhat out of the common. Vases of costly workmanship,
brass wine-coolers, enameled glass frames, small mirrors set in silver, belt clasps, pins of every sort of conceit for the hair, choice old Louis Treize silver boxes of curious design, and watches, even old miniatures, are all of the order of things most desired. So many of our spring brides are going immediately to Europe that it seems absurd to load them down with costly dinner sets, or the usual lamps and pepper-casters. These may come later. How much prettier to give the bride something she can wear!

Wedding presents, if shown, will be in the second-story front room, spread on tables and surrounded by flowers. Some brides will give an afternoon tea the day before to show the presents to a few intimate friends. Each present will bear the name of the giver on his or her card.

One bride intends to make a most original innovation. Instead of going immediately out of town, she will remain at home and attend
the Bachelors' Ball, in the evening, leaving for Philadelphia at three in the morning. At several of the church weddings the guests
are only bidden there; there will be no reception.

Widows who are to be married again should be reminded that they can neither have wedding favors nor wear a veil or orange blossoms. A widow bride should wear a bonnet, she should have no bridesmaids, and a peach-blossom silk or velvet is a very pretty dress. At a certain up-town wedding all the gentlemen will wear a wedding favor excepting the groom. He always wears only a flower.

Wedding favors should be made of white ribbon and silver leaves. Large bouquets of white flowers should ornament the ears of the
horses and the coats of the coachmen and footmen.

It is a matter of taste whether the bride wears her gloves to the altar or whether she goes up with uncovered hands. "High-Church"
brides prefer the latter custom, The bride carries a prayer-book, if she prefers, instead of a bouquet. The Holy Communion is
administered to the married pair if they desire it.

One correspondent inquires, "Who should be asked to a wedding?" We should say all your visiting list, or none. There is an unusual
feeling about being left out at a wedding, and no explanation that it is "a small and not general invitation" seems to satisfy those
who are thus passed over. It is much better to offend no one on so important an occasion.

Wedding cards and wedding stationery have not altered at all. The simple styles are the best. The bridal linen should be marked with
the maiden name of the bride.

If brides could only find out some way to let their friends know where they are to be found after marriage it, would be a great
convenience.

The newest style of engagement ring is a diamond and a ruby, or a diamond and a sapphire, set at right angles or diagonally. Bangles
with the bridal monogram set in jewels are very pretty, and a desirable ornament for the bridesmaids' gifts, serving as a memento and a particularly neat ornament. They seem to have entirely superseded the locket. The bride's name cut in silver or gold serves for a lace pin, and is quite effective.

 


Article Information:
Article Name: Weddings After Easter
Website: http:www.thehistorybox.com |Researcher/Transcriber:  Miriam Medina
Source: Bibliography:  Manners and Social Usages by Mrs. John Sherwood; Harper & Brothers-New York 1894 Chapter X Loc
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