The "Traditional" Wedding
What our society thinks of as a traditional wedding has its roots way back in 1840: the marriage of Queen Victoria to Prince Albert. Prior to this landmark occasion, weddings were organized very differently.
Deciding on a date to be married was cemented in a couple's mind with popular proverbs and rhymes. June has always been the most popular month for its namesake Juno, Roman goddess of marriage. April, November and December were also popular, and October was favorable because it signified a bountiful harvest. May was considered unlucky. "Marry in May and rue the day," but "Marry in September's shine, your living will be rich and fine."
Brides were superstitious about days of the week as well. With marriage on the Sabbath unheard of, couples were advised to:
Marry on Monday for health, Tuesday for wealth, Wednesday the best day of all, Thursday for crosses, Friday for losses, and Saturday for no luck at all.
By English law, weddings were to be performed between the hours of 10 a.m. and Noon, only to be extended until 3 p.m. by the end of the 1880s.
In 2019, couples are looking at Saturdays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays for their June, September, or October weddings.
Today, evening weddings are the most common time of day, with morning weddings being rare. Afternoon weddings are also very popular, leaving enough time for all the desired activities of the day.
White did not become the default wedding color until Queen Victoria selected it for her own wedding. Up until that point the color chosen was believed to influence the couple's marriage:
White--chosen right Blue--love will be true Yellow--ashamed of her fellow Red--wish herself dead Black--wish herself back Grey--travel far away Pink--of you he'll always think Green-ashamed to be seen
Brides today are reinventing the wedding gown, opting for more vibrant colors and designs.
The ceremony was almost always performed at the Bride's parish, which was festooned with flowers and potted plants.
In 2009, 41 percent of couples got married in a church. That number declined to just 26 percent in 2016, with couples instead opting for farms, barns and ranches, historic buildings and homes, beach houses, public gardens, wineries and museums!
Because Victorian weddings took place in the morning, couples would return to their homes with their guests for a breakfast reception. Handmade favors were pinned to the guests' sleeves and shoulders by the bridesmaids and no entertainment was provided, as the honor of attendance was thought to be enough.
There were three cakes that were served: one elaborate cake was boxed and sent home with the guests. The bride's and groom's cakes were smaller and more plainly decorated. The bride's cake was commonly baked with charms inside, to be found by their attendants:
The ring for marriage within a year; The penny for wealth, my dear; The thimble for an old maid or bachelor born; The button for sweethearts all forlorn
The couple would leave for their honeymoon as soon as the cake was cut, making the entire celebration last no longer than a couple hours.
Receptions today are elaborate affairs!
Increasingly, couples are opting to elope or hold small intimate wedding ceremonies, and to plan impressive Receptions months later! Guest entertainment is a must, and music and dancing are extremely important. Celebrations last for hours, and commonly include:
Toasts and Speeches
Mother/Son or Father/Daughter Dance
Hours of Dancing
Party Activities (Roasting S'mores, Yard Games, Photo Booths)
It used to be bad taste for anyone to ask where the couple was going on their honeymoon, and only the best man (who was sworn to secrecy) knew their plans so he could help with their luggage. Honeymoons became widely popular in the 1820s. They were often called wedding tours, bridal tours or nuptial journeys. The popular honeymoon destinations were Rome, Venice and the most romantic cities in Europe.
Couples today work together to plan their honeymoon, and often share their plans with family and friends! The most common honeymoon destinations today are Mexico, Italy, Fiji, Greece and Hawaii.
Couples today may wait to leave for their honeymoon for a few days to accommodate work, children, or just to ensure they are rested after their wedding!
The "Modern" Wedding
Well, there you have it! Today's weddings, while drawing inspiration from by-gone eras, have truly become remarkable celebrations!
Times of year and days of the week are based around venue availability, not superstition.
Color and dress choices are based upon the couples' tastes, not proverbs.
Outdoor evening ceremonies provide plenty of preparation throughout the day, and gorgeous photos.
Receptions immediately follow, commonly at the same venue, and provide ample opportunities for the couple to mingle with their guests.
Guests' entertainment is amply provided for, and eating, drinking, toasting, and dancing extends into the late hours of the night,providing everyone with an affair remember.
Christie Becker is a professional violinist and owner of Christie Becker Violin, where she specializes in creating her client's perfect memories. For more information, or to work with Christie on your unique event, visit www.christiebeckerviolin.com.