Friday, February 8, 2013

Early Victorian Wedding Customs, part 2 (1837-1860)

Victorian Wedding Dresses
Photo Source: Squidoo
.by Angela Magnotti Andrews

Of course, the most important Early Victorian wedding detail was the wedding dress, followed in importance by the groom’s attire and the attire of their attendants. The trend toward all-white weddings was being established, though it would be some time before white wedding dresses would become fashionable.

It began with Queen Victoria’s decision to depart form the customary Royal silver for her gown. It was further established in the late 1850s, when Queen Victoria insisted that the next two Royal brides (Princess Alexandra and Princess Alice) follow her lead and wear a white silk gown from Spitalfields with white Honiton lace and white orange blossoms.

Her insistence on white wedding dresses came in part because she was a hopeless romantic in deep mourning, always trying to both avoid and recreate her happiest moments with Albert. Her second reason came from her love of Dickens and her over-identification with the poor and downtrodden. Since her wedding in 1840, she had worked tirelessly to revive two downtrodden areas of London, Spitalfields and Beer. Her insistence on white Spitalfields satin and Honiton lace from Beer would supply these communities with work and income for months.

Since white fabric was harder to come by and was fairly impractical for most Early Victorian ladies, who could not afford to wear a dress only once, it would take a couple of decades for white wedding gowns to become the norm. For this reason, many early 1800s brides wore blue, soft green, cream, or ivory dresses. Some colonial brides ever wore brown or black gowns. The blue wedding dress was a holdover tradition from the Georgian Era, when blue stood as the symbol of purity. These gowns, simple and without much embellishment, were worn later for daily wear or for Court presentation.

Depending on the resources available to the bride and her family, the dress might have been made of organdy, linen, silk, or cashmere, and it may have included tulle, gauze, or lace to accentuate the hemlines, shoulders, collar, and/or sleeves. No matter which materials were chosen, the Early Victorian wedding dress consisted of a form-fitting bodice with its trim waistline tucked into a full flowing skirt worn over hoops and petticoats.


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