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Autumn Weddings

 The first thing which strikes the eye of the fortunate person who is invited to see the bridal gifts is the predominance of silver-ware. We have now passed the age of bronze and that of brass, and silver holds the first place of importance. Not only the coffee and tea sets, but the dinner sets and the whole furniture of the writing-table, and even brooms and brushes, are made with repouss, silver handles--the last, of course, for the toilette, as for dusting velvet, feathers, bonnets, etc.

The oxidized, ugly, discolored silver is not so fashionable as it was, and the beautiful, bright, highly polished silver, with its own natural and unmatchable color, has come in. The salvers afford a splendid surface for a monogram, which is now copied from the old Dutch silver, and bears many a true-lovers' knot, and every sort and kind of ornamentation; sometimes even a little verse, or posy, as it was called in olden time. One tea-caddy at a recent wedding bore the following almost obsolete rhyme, which Corydon might have sent to Phyllis in pastoral times:

"My heart to you is given;
Oh do give yours to me:
We'll lock them up together,
And throw away the key."

It should be added that the silver tea-caddy was in the shape of a heart, and that it had a key. Very dear to the heart of a housewife is the tea-caddy which can be locked.

Another unique present was a gold tea scoop of ancient pattern, probably once a baby's pap spoon. There were also apostle-spoons, and little silver canoes and other devices to hold cigarettes and ashes; little mysterious boxes for the toilette, to hold the tongs for curling hair, and hair-pins; mirror frames, and even chair-backs and tables--all of silver.

Several beautiful umbrellas, with all sorts of handles, recalled the anecdote of the man who said he first saw his wife in a storm, married her in a storm, lived with her in a hurricane, but buried her in pleasant weather; parasols with jeweled handles, and beautiful painted fans, are also favorite offerings to the newly married.

Friends conspire to make their offerings together, so that there may be no duplicates, and no pieces in the silver service which do not match. This is a very excellent plan. Old pieces like silver tankards, Queen Anne silver, and the ever beautiful Baltimore workmanship, are highly prized.

It is no longer the fashion to display the presents at the wedding. They are arranged in an upper room, and shown to a few friends of the bride the day before the ceremony. Nor is it the fashion for the bride to wear many jewels. These are reserved for her first appearance as a married woman.

Clusters of diamond stars, daisies, or primroses that can be grouped together are now favorite gifts. In this costly gift several friends join again, as in the silver presentation. Diamond bracelets that can be used as necklaces are also favorite presents. All sorts of vases, bits of china, cloisonn,, clocks (although there is not such a stampede of clocks and lamps as a few years ago), choice etchings framed, and embroidered table-cloths, doilies, and useful coverings for bureau and wash-stands, are in order.

The bride now prefers simplicity in her dress--splendid and costly simplicity. An elegant white-satin and a tulle veil, the latter very full, the former extremely long and with a sweeping train, high corsage, and long sleeves, long white gloves, and perhaps a flower in the hair--such is the latest fashion for an autumn bride. The young ladies say they prefer that their magnificence should wait for the days after marriage, when their jewels can be worn. There is great sense in this, for a bride is interesting enough when she is simply attired.

The solemnization of the marriage should be in a church, and a high ecclesiastical functionary should be asked to solemnize it. The guests are brought in by the ushers, who, by the way, now wear pearl-colored kid-gloves, embroidered in black, as do the groom and best man. The front seats are reserved for the relatives and intimate friends, and the head usher has a paper on which are written the names of people entitled to these front seats. The seats thus reserved have a white ribbon as a line of demarcation. Music should usher in the bride.

The fashion of bridesmaids has gone out temporarily, and one person, generally a sister, alone accompanies the bride to the altar as her female aid. The bride, attended by her father or near friend, comes in last, after the ushers. After her mother, sister, and family have preceded her, these near relatives group themselves about the altar steps. Her sister, or one bridesmaid, stands near her at the altar rail, and kneels with her and the bridegroom, as does the best man. The groom takes his bride from the hand of her father or nearest friend, who then retires and stands a little behind the bridal pair. He must be near enough to respond quickly when he hears the words, "Who giveth this woman to be married to this man?" The bride and groom walk out together after the ceremony, followed by the nearest relatives, and proceed to the home where the wedding breakfast is served. Here the bridal pair stand under an arch of autumn-leaves, golden-rod, asters, and other seasonable flowers, and receive their friends, who are presented by the ushers.

The father and mother do not take any stated position on this occasion, but mingle with the guests, and form a part of the company. In an opulent country house, if the day is fine, little tables are set out on the lawn, the ladies seat themselves around, and the gentlemen carry the refreshments to them; or the piazzas are beautifully decorated with autumn boughs and ferns, flowers, evergreens, and the refreshments are served there. If it is a bad day, of course the usual arrangements of a crowded buffet are in order; there is no longer a "sit-down" wedding breakfast; it does not suit our American ideas, as recent experiments have proved. We have many letters asking if the gentlemen of the bride's family should wear gloves. They should, and, as we have indicated, they should be of pearl-colored kid, embroidered in the seams with black.

The one bridesmaid must be dressed in colors. At a recent very fashionable wedding the bridesmaid wore bright buttercup yellow, a real Directoire dress, white lace skirt, yellow bodice, hat trimmed with yellow--a very picturesque, pretty costume. The silk stockings and slippers were of yellow, the hat of Leghorn, very large, turned up at one side, yellow plumes, and long streamers of yellow-velvet ribbon. Yellow is now esteemed a favorite color and a fortunate one. It once was deemed the synonym for envy, but that has passed away.

The carrying of an ivory prayer-book was found to be attended with inconvenience, therefore was discontinued. Still, if a young lady wishes to have her prayer-book associated with her vows at the altar, she can properly carry it. Brides are, however, leaving their bouquets at home, as the immense size of a modern bouquet interfered with the giving and taking of the ring.

A very pretty bit of ornamentation for an autumn wedding is the making of a piece of tapestry of autumn leaves to hang behind the bride as she receives. This can be done by sewing the leaves on a piece of drugget on which some artist has drawn a clever sketch with chalk and charcoal. We have seen some really elaborate and artistic groups done in this way by earnest and unselfish girl friends. Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet and Ophelia, Tristan and Iseult, can thus be made to serve as decorations.

The walls of the church can, of course, be exquisitely decorated with palms in an Oriental pattern, flowers, and leaves. The season is one when nature's bounty is so profuse that even the fruits can be pressed into service. Care should be taken not to put too many tuberoses about, for the perfume is sickening to some.

The engagement ring should be worn on the third finger of the left hand. It should have a solitaire stone--either a diamond or a colored stone. Colored stones and diamonds, set diagonally, as a sapphire and a diamond, are also worn; but not a pearl, as, according to the German idea, "pearls are tears for a bride." The wedding ring is entirely different, being merely a plain gold ring, not very wide nor a square band, as it was a few years since, and the engagement ring is worn as a guard above the wedding ring. It is not usual for the bride expectant to give a ring to her intended husband, but many girls like to give an engagement gift to their betrothed. Inside the engagement ring is the date of the engagement and the initials of each of the contracting parties. The wedding ring has the date of the marriage and the initials.

If the marriage takes place at home, the bride and groom enter together, and take their place before the clergyman, who has already entered; then come the father and mother and other friends. A pair of hassocks should be arranged for the bridal pair to kneel upon, and the father should be near to allow the clergyman to see him when he asks for his authority.

For autumn weddings nothing is so pretty for the traveling-dress as a tailor-made costume of very light cloth, with sacque to match for a cold day. No traveling-dress should of itself be too heavy, as our railway carriages are kept so very warm.

We have been asked to define the meaning of the word "honeymoon." It comes from the Germans, who drank mead, or metheglin--a beverage made of honey--for thirty days after the wedding.

The bride-cake is no longer cut and served at weddings; the present of cake in boxes has superseded that. At the wedding breakfast the ices are now packed in fancy boxes, which bear nuptial mottoes and orange-blossoms and violets on their surfaces. As the ring is the expressive emblem of the perpetuity of the compact, and as the bride-cake and customary libations form significant symbols of the nectar sweets of matrimony, it will not do to banish the cake altogether, although few people eat it, and few wish to carry it away.

Among the Romans, June was considered the most propitious month for marriage; but with the Anglo-Saxons October has always been a favorite and auspicious season. We find that the festival has always been observed in very much the same way, whether druidical, pagan, or Christian.

We have been asked, Who shall conduct the single bridesmaid to the altar? It should be the brother of the groom, her own fiancÚ, or some chosen friend--never the best man; he does not leave his friend the groom until he sees him fairly launched on that hopeful but uncertain sea whose reverses and whose smiles are being constantly tempted.

"That man must lead a happy life
Who is directed by a wife.
Who's freed from matrimonial claims
Is sure to suffer for his pains."

This is a "posy" for some October silver.


Article Information:
Article Name: Autumn Weddings
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 XII Loc
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