Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Early Victorian Wedding Customs, part 1 (1837-1860)

Victorian Wedding
Photo Source: Love to Know Weddings
by Angela Magnotti Andrews

The year is 1837, and a new Queen sits on Great Britain’s throne. Victoria will soon become the primary influence on wedding customs in Europe and America and will remain so for the next 75 years.

The years of her long reign will eventually be categorized into three distinct fashion periods, the first of which is marked by the illustrious wedding of the Queen to her beloved Albert. Though many customs endured throughout the 1800s, details like wedding party attire, colors and decorations, venues, and jewelry changed with the passing of each decade.

The Early Victorian Era is best known for ostentatious and romantic flourishes in everything from literature to fashion and jewelry design. Wedding customs were no exception. Drawing from some of the enduring traditions of the late Georgian Era, as well as from some of the new elements introduced by Queen Victoria during her wedding to Prince Albert in 1840.

During these first years of Victoria’s reign, weddings would slowly take on more and more of the elements she included in her Royal Wedding. During the 1840s, six o’clock was the customary time for typically private royal weddings. Thinking always of her adoring subjects (or perhaps wisely taking her Prime Minister’s advice), Queen Victoria decided upon a very public ceremony to begin at noon.

This was just one of the ways Queen Victoria ensured that her people could identify with her. The English laws dictated that non-royal weddings were to be held only in the morning, often commencing just before noon in the bride’s parish church. 

The wedding party would then retire directly afterwards to the home of the bride’s parents for the commencement of the customary wedding breakfast. Queen Victoria and Prince Albert did the same, albeit on a very grand scale, their wedding breakfast taking place at Buckingham Palace, where her mother did indeed reside.

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