Page Last Updated February 11, 2008 Copyright
1996 -2012 Etiquette Hell LLC. All rights reserved. No portion of this web
page may be copied without written permission from the web page
owner. Etiquette Hell is a registered trademark.
V.--ETIQUETTE OF A WEDDING.
The parties being assembled on the wedding morning in the drawing-room of the residence of the bride's father (unless, as sometimes happens, the breakfast is spread in that room), the happy _cortege_ should proceed to the church in the following order:--
In the first carriage, the bride's mother and the parents of the bridegroom.
In the second and third carriages, bridesmaids.
Other carriages with the bride's friends.
In the last carriage, the bride and her father.
_Costume of the Bride_.
A bride's costume should be white, or some hue as close as possible to it. Fawn color, gray, and lavender are entirely out of fashion. It is considered more stylish for a very young bride to go without a bonnet, but for her head to be covered with only a wreath of orange blossoms and a Chantilly or some other lace veil. This, however, is entirely a matter of taste; but, whether wearing a bonnet or not, the bride must always wear a veil. If a widow, she may wear not only a bonnet, but a colored silk dress.
_Costume of the Bridegroom_.
Formerly it was not considered to be in good taste for a gentleman to be married in a black coat. More latitude is now allowed in the costume of a bridegroom, the style now adopted being what is termed morning dress: a frock coat, light trousers, white satin or silk waistcoat, ornamental tie, and white or gray gloves.
_How the Bridesmaids should be Dressed_.
The bridesmaids dress generally in pairs, each two alike, but sometimes all wear a similar costume. Pink and light blue, with white pardessus or mantelets, or white with pink or blue, are admissible colors. The bonnets, if worn, must be white, with marabou feathers; but, of late, bonnets have usually been discarded, the bridesmaids wearing veils instead. The whole costume of a bridesmaid should have a very light but brilliant effect, and the _tout ensemble_ of this fair bevy should be so constituted in style and color as to look well by the side of and about the bride. It should be as the warm coloring in the background of a sun-lit picture, helping to throw into the foreground the dress of the bride, and make her prominent, as the principal person in the tableau.
_Arrival at the Church_.
The bridegroom meets the bride at the altar, where he must take especial care to arrive in good time before the hour appointed.
_Order of Procession to the Altar_.
The father of the bride generally advances with her from the church door to the altar, followed immediately by the bridesmaids. The father of the bridegroom, if present, gives his arm to the bride's mother if she be present, as is now usual at fashionable weddings, and goes next to the bridesmaids. The friends who have come with the wedding party proceed next in succession.
The bridegroom with his groomsmen must be in readiness to meet the bride at the altar, the bridegroom standing at the left hand of the clergyman, in the center before the altar rails.
We have seen on some occasions the bridegroom offer the bride his left arm to lead her to the altar, but this should be avoided; for by so doing, the whole order of the procession to the altar becomes inverted, and must then be arranged as follows:--
The father, or some male relative or friend, and the mother of the bride, or, if she be not present, the mother of the gentleman, or one of the oldest female relations or friends of the bride's family, are to lead the way towards the altar from the vestry.
The friends who have come with the wedding party follow next in succession.
Then come the bridesmaids and bridegroomsmen in pairs.
The bridegroom, having offered his left arm to the bride, now conducts her up the center aisle of the church to the altar. The parties in advance file to the right and left of the altar, leaving the bride and bridegroom in the center.
_The Marriage Ceremony_.
The bridegroom stands at the right hand of the bride. The father stands just behind her, so as to be in readiness to give her hand at the proper moment to the bridegroom. The principal bridesmaid stands on the left of the bride, ready to take off the bride's glove, which she keeps as a perquisite and prize of her office.
It was ordered by the old Rubrics that the woman, if a widow, should have her hand covered when presented by father or friend to the priest for marriage; one of the many points by which the Church distinguished second marriages. A piece of silver and a piece of gold were also laid with the wedding ring upon the priest's book (where the cross would be on the cover), in token of dower to the wife.
_The words "I Will"_
are to be pronounced distinctly and audibly by both parties, such being the all-important part of the ceremony as respects themselves: the public delivery, before the priest, by the father of his daughter to the bridegroom, being an evidence of his assent; the silence which follows the inquiry for "cause or just impediment" testifying that of society in general; and the "I will" being the declaration of the bride and bridegroom that they are voluntary parties to their holy union in marriage.
_The words "Honor and Obey"_
must also be distinctly spoken by the bride. They constitute an essential part of the obligation and contract of matrimony on her part. It may not be amiss here to inform our fair readers that on the marriage of our gracious Sovereign Queen Victoria to H.R.H. the late lamented Prince Albert, her Majesty carefully and most judiciously emphasized these words, thereby manifesting that though a Queen in station, yet in her wedded and private life she sought no exemption from this obligation, and in this respect placed herself on the same level with the humblest village matron in her dominions.
This obedience on the part of the wife, concerning which there is oftentimes much serious questioning among ladies old and young, while yet unmarried, is thus finely defined by Jeremy Taylor:--"It is a voluntary cession that is required; such a cession as must be without coercion and violence on his part, but upon fair inducements and reasonableness in the thing, and out of love and honor on her part. When God commands us to love Him, He means we shall obey Him. 'This is love, that ye keep my commandments; and if ye love me,' says the Lord, 'keep my commandments.' Now as Christ is to the Church, so is man to the wife; and therefore obedience is the best instance of her love; for it proclaims her submission, her humility, her opinion of his wisdom, his pre-eminence in the family, the right of his privilege, and the injunction imposed by God upon her sex, that although in sorrow she bring forth children, yet with love and choice she should obey. The man's authority is love, and the woman's love is obedience. It is modesty to advance and highly to honor them who have honored us by making us the companions of their dearest excellencies; for the woman that went before the man in the way of death, is commanded to follow him in the way of love; and that makes the society to be perfect, and the union profitable, and the harmony complete."
The Rubric tells us "the man shall give unto the woman a ring, laying the same upon the book with the accustomed duty to the priest and clerk." This latter rule is, however, not now observed, it being usual to pay the fees in the vestry; but to ensure the presence of the ring, a caution by no means unnecessary, and in some measure to sanctify that emblem of an eternal union, it is asked for by the clerk previously to the commencement of the ceremony, who advises that it be placed upon the book.
We pity the unfortunate bridegroom who at this moment cannot, by at once inserting his hand into the corner (the one most ready to his finger and thumb) of his left-hand waistcoat-pocket, pull out the wedding ring. Imagine his dismay at not finding it there!--the first surprise, the growing anxiety, as the right-hand pocket is next rummaged--the blank look, as he follows this by the discovery that his neither garments have no pockets whatsoever, not even a watch-fob, where it may lie _perdue_ in a corner! Amid the suppressed giggle of the bridesmaids, the disconcerted look of the bride herself, at such a palpable instance of carelessness on the part of the bridegroom thus publicly displayed before all her friends, and the half-repressed disapprobation of the numerous circle around, he fumbles in the coat-pockets, and turns them inside-out. A further but useless search causes increased confusion and general annoyance; at length it becomes evident that the unfortunate ring has been forgotten! We may observe, however, that in default of the ring, the wedding ring of the mother may be used. The application of the key of the church door is traditionary in this absurd dilemma; and in country churches a straw twisted into a circle has been known to supply the place of the orthodox hoop of gold!
_After the Ceremony_.
the clergyman usually shakes hands with the bride and bridegroom, and the bride's father and mother, and a general congratulation ensues.
_The Clergyman and Assistant Clergymen_.
The clergyman of the church is invariably invited to attend, although the ceremony may be performed by some clerical friend of the bride or bridegroom. This is called "assisting;" other clergymen who may attend in addition, as is sometimes the case, are said also to "assist." But as much ridicule has fallen upon the adoption of this custom, and as the expression of "assisting" is considered an affectation, it is much less in vogue than it was; and it is no longer usual to mention the names of any other clergymen than that of the one who performs the ceremony, and of the clergyman of the church, who should be present whether invited or not. It is, indeed, his duty to attend, and he should insist on so doing, inasmuch as the entry of the marriage in the parish register is supposed to be made under his sanction and authority. It should not be forgotten that the presence of an "assisting clergyman" entails the doubling of the fees. The payment of the fees is generally entrusted to the bridegroom's "best man," or some other intimate friend of his.
_Difference of Religion_.
Where the bride and bridegroom are of different religions, the marriage is usually first celebrated in the church of that communion to which the husband belongs; the second celebration should immediately follow, and upon the same day. Some, however, regard it as duly deferential to the bride's feelings that the first ceremony should be performed in her own communion. There is a notion prevalent, that in the case of a marriage between Roman Catholics and Protestants, the ceremony must necessarily be first performed in a Protestant church. This is erroneous--the order of the twofold marriage is, in a legal point of view, of no moment, so long as it takes place on the same day.
_The Return to the Vestry_.
On the completion of the ceremony the bride is led to the vestry by the bridegroom. The bridesmaids and bridegroomsmen follow, the principals of each taking the lead; then the father of the bride, followed by the father and mother of the bridegroom, and the rest of the company.
_The Registry of the Marriage_.
The husband signs first; then the bride-wife, for the last time in her maiden name; next the father of the bride, and the mother, if present; then the father and mother of the bridegroom, if present; next the bridesmaids and the bridegroomsmen; then such of the rest of the company as may desire to be on the record as witnesses. All the names must be signed in full. The certificate of the marriage is then handed to the bride, and should be carefully preserved in her own possession.
_The Wedding Favors_.
Meanwhile, outside the church, as soon as the ceremony is completed--and not before, for it is regarded as unfortunate--a box of the wedding favors is opened, and every servant in waiting takes care to pin one on the right side of his hat, while the coachmen, too, ornament therewith the ears of their horses. Inside the church the wedding favors are also distributed, and a gay, gallant, and animated scene ensues, as each bridesmaid pins on to the coat of each bridegroomsman a wedding favor, which he returns by pinning one also on her shoulder. Every "favor" is carefully furnished with two pins for this purpose; and it is amazing to see the flutter, the coquettish smiling, and the frequent pricking of fingers, which the performance of this _piquant_ and pleasant duty of the wedding bachelors and ladies "in waiting" does occasion!
_The Return Home_.
The bridegroom now leads the bride out of the church, and the happy pair return homeward in the first carriage. The father and mother follow in the next. The rest "stand not on the order of their going," but start off in such wise as they can best contrive.
_The Wedding Breakfast_.
The bride and bridegroom sit together at the center of the table, in front of the wedding cake, the clergyman who performed the ceremony taking his place opposite to them. The top and bottom of the table are occupied by the father and mother of the bride. The principal bridesmaid sits to the left of the bride, and the principal bridegroomsman on the left of the bridegroom. It may not be unnecessary to say that it is customary for the ladies to wear their bonnets just as they came from the church. The bridesmaids cut the cake into small pieces, which are not eaten until the health of the bride is proposed. This is usually done by the officiating clergyman, or by an old and cherished friend of the family of the bridegroom. The bridegroom returns thanks for the bride and for himself. The health of the bride's parents is then proposed, and is followed by those of the principal personages present, the toast of the bridesmaids being generally one of the pleasantest features of the festal ceremony. After about two hours, the principal bridesmaid leads the bride out of the room as quietly as possible, so as not to disturb the party or attract attention. Shortly after--it may be in about ten minutes--the absence of the bride being noticed, the rest of the ladies retire. Then it is that the bridegroom has a few _melancholy_ moments to bid adieu to his bachelor friends, and he then generally receives some hints on the subject in a short address from one of them, to which he is of course expected to respond. He then withdraws for a few moments, and returns after having made a slight addition to his toilet, in readiness for traveling.
In some recent fashionable weddings we have noticed that the bride and bridegroom do not attend the wedding breakfast, but after a slight refreshment in a private apartment, take their departure immediately on the wedding tour. But this defalcation, if we may so call it, of the chief _dramatis personae_ of the day, though considered to be in good taste, is by no means a popular innovation, but is rather regarded as a prudish dereliction from the ancient forms of hospitality, which are more prized than ever on so genial an occasion as a marriage.
_Departure for the Honeymoon_.
The young bride, divested of her bridal attire, and quietly costumed for the journey, now bids farewell to her bridesmaids and lady friends. A few tears spring to her gentle eyes as she takes a last look at the home she is now leaving. The servants venture to crowd about her with their humble but heartfelt congratulations; finally, she falls weeping on her mother's bosom. A short cough is heard, as of some one summoning up resolution to hide emotion. It is her father. He dares not trust his voice; but holds out his hand, gives her an affectionate kiss, and then leads her, half turning back, down the stairs and through the hall, to the door, where he delivers her as a precious charge to her husband, who hands her quickly into the carriage, springs in after her, waves his hand to the party who appear crowding at the windows, half smiles at the throng about the door, then, amidst a shower of old slippers--missiles of good-luck sent flying after the happy pair--gives the word, and they are off, and started on the long-hoped-for voyage!
VI.--ETIQUETTE AFTER THE WEDDING.
The dress of the bride during the honeymoon should be characterized by modesty, an attractive simplicity, and scrupulous neatness. The slightest approach to slatternliness in costume, when all should be exquisitely trim from _chevelure_ to _chaussure_, would be an abomination, and assuredly beget a most unpleasant impression on the susceptible feelings of the husband. He will naturally regard any carelessness or indifference in this respect, at such a time, as a bad augury for the future.
_The Wedding Cards_.
The distribution of these has long been regarded as an important social duty; it devolves, as we have already said, on the bridesmaids, who meet for that purpose at the house of the bride's father on the day after the wedding. The cards, which are always furnished by the bridegroom, are two fold--the one having upon it the gentleman's and the other the lady's name. They are placed in envelopes, those containing the lady's card having her maiden name engraved or lithographed inside the fold, and have all been addressed some time before by the bridesmaids, to whom the gentleman has given a list of such of his friends as he wishes to introduce to his home.
The lady generally sends cards to all whom she has been in the habit of receiving or visiting while at her father's house. She too has now an opportunity of dropping such acquaintances as she may not be desirous of retaining in her wedded life.
This point of sending the cards has until recently been considered as one requiring great care and circumspection, since an omission has frequently been regarded as a serious affront. To those parties whose visiting acquaintance is wished to be kept up, on the bride's card it has been the custom until lately to add the words "At home" on such a day. But this usage is going out of vogue.
To send cards without an address is an intimation that the parties are not expected to call except in the case of friends who reside far away, or when the marriage has taken place at a distance. In fact, the address is understood to denote "At home," by those who adhere to the custom; it is better, however, that those words should be put upon the cards.
A practice has grown up of late, more particularly where the circle of friends is extensive, to send invitations to such as are not called to the wedding feast to attend the ceremony at church, instead of issuing cards at all. When this rule is observed, it is usual in notifying the marriage in the newspapers to add the words "No Cards."
_Reception of Visitors_.
On the return of the wedded pair from their honeymoon trip, about a month or six weeks after the wedding, they were, until recently, expected to be "At home;" but the formality of reception days is now generally exploded. Intimate friends, whether "At home" cards have been issued or not, will, however, be expected to pay them a visit. But if reception days have been fixed, the bride, with her husband and bridesmaids, will sit "at home" ready to receive those to whom cards have been sent, the bride wearing her wedding dress, and the company invited to partake of wedding cake and wine to drink the health of the bride.
The bride and her husband, or, in case he may not be able to attend her, the principal bridesmaid--the last of whose official duties this is--usually return all the wedding visits paid to them. Those who may have called on the bride without having received wedding cards should not have their visits returned, unless special reason exists to the contrary, such visit being deemed an impolite intrusion.
These return visits having been paid, the happy pair cease to be spoken of as _bride_ and _bridegroom_, but are henceforward styled the "newly-married couple;" and then all goes on as if they had been married twenty years.
* * * * *
VII.--PRACTICAL ADVICE TO A NEWLY-MARRIED COUPLE.
Our advice to the husband will be brief. Let him have up concealments from his wife, but remember that their interests are mutual; that, as she must suffer the pains of every loss, as well as share the advantages of every success, in his career in life, she has therefore a right to know the risks she may be made to undergo. We do not say that it is necessary, or advisable, or even fair, to harass a wife's mind with the details of business; but where a change of circumstances--not for the better--is anticipated or risked, let her by all means be made acquainted with the fact in good time. Many a kind husband almost breaks his young wife's fond heart by an alteration in his manner, which she cannot but detect, but from ignorance of the cause very probably attributes to a wrong motive; while he, poor fellow, all the while out of pure tenderness, is endeavoring to conceal from her tidings--which must come out at last--of ruined hopes or failure in speculation; whereas, had she but known the danger beforehand, she would have alleviated his fears on her account, and by cheerful resignation have taken out half the sting of his disappointment. Let no man think lightly of the opinion of his wife in times of difficulty. Women have generally more acuteness of perception than men; and in moments of peril, or in circumstances that involve a crisis or turning-point in life, they have usually more resolution and greater instinctive judgment.
We recommend that every husband from the first should make his wife an allowance for ordinary household expenses--which he should pay weekly or monthly--and for the expenditure of which he should not, unless for some urgent reason, call her to account. A tolerably sure guide in estimating the amount of this item, which does not include rent, taxes, servants' wages, coals, or candles, &c., is to remember that in a small middle-class family, not exceeding _four_, the expense of each person for ordinary food amounts to fifteen shillings weekly; beyond that number, to ten shillings weekly for each extra person, servant or otherwise. This estimate does not, of course, provide for wine or food of a luxurious kind. The largest establishment, indeed, may be safely calculated on the same scale.
A wife should also receive a stated allowance for dress, within which limit she ought always to restrict her expenses. Any excess of expenditure under this head should be left to the considerate kindness of her husband to concede. Nothing is more contemptible than for a woman to have perpetually to ask her husband for small sums for housekeeping expenses--nothing more annoying and humiliating than to have to apply to him always for money for her own private use--nothing more disgusting than to see a man "mollycoddling" about marketing, and rummaging about for cheap articles of all kinds.
Let the husband beware, when things go wrong with him in business affairs, of venting his bitter feelings of disappointment and despair in the presence of his wife and family,--feelings which, while abroad, he finds it practicable to restrain. It is as unjust as it is impolitic to indulge in such a habit.
A wife having married the man she loves above all others, must be expected in her turn to pay some court to him. Before marriage she has, doubtless, been made his idol. Every moment he could spare, and perhaps many more than he could properly so appropriate, have been devoted to her. How anxiously has he not revolved in his mind his worldly chances of making her happy! How often has he not had to reflect, before he made the proposal of marriage, whether he should be acting dishonorably towards her by incurring the risk, for the selfish motive of his own gratification, of placing her in a worse position than the one she occupied at home! And still more than this, he must have had to consider with anxiety the probability of having to provide for an increasing family, with all its concomitant expenses.
We say, then, that being married, and the honeymoon over, the husband must necessarily return to his usual occupations, which will, in all probability, engage the greater part of his thoughts, for he will now be desirous to have it in his power to procure various little indulgences for his wife's sake which he never would have dreamed of for his own. He comes to his home weary and fatigued; his young wife has had but her pleasures to gratify, or the quiet routine of her domestic duties to attend to, while he has been toiling through the day to enable her to gratify these pleasures and to fulfill these duties. Let then, the dear, tired husband, at the close of his daily labors, be made welcome by the endearments of his loving spouse--let him be free from the care of having to satisfy the caprices of a petted wife. Let her now take her turn in paying those many little love-begotten attentions which married men look for to soothe them--let her reciprocate that devotion to herself, which, from the early hours of their love, he cherished for her, by her ever-ready endeavors to make him happy and his home attractive.
In the presence of other persons, however, married people should refrain from fulsome expressions of endearment to each other, the use of which, although a common practice, is really a mark of bad taste. It is desirable also to caution them against adopting the too prevalent vulgarism of calling each other, or indeed any person whatever, merely by the initial letter of their surname.
A married woman should always be very careful how she receives personal compliments. She should never court them, nor ever feel flattered by them, whether in her husband's presence or not. If in his presence, they can hardly fail to be distasteful to him; if in his absence, a lady, by a dignified demeanor, may always convince an assiduous admirer that his attentions are not well received, and at once and for ever stop all familiar advances. In case of insult, a wife should immediately make her husband acquainted therewith; as the only chance of safety to a villain lies in the concealment of such things by a lady from dread of consequences to her husband. From that moment he has her at advantage, and may very likely work on deliberately to the undermining of her character. He is thus enabled to play upon her fears, and taunt her with their mutual secret and its concealment, until she may be involved, guilelessly, in a web of apparent guilt, from which she can never extricate herself without risking the happiness of her future life.
Not the least useful piece of advice--homely though it be--that we can offer to newly-married ladies, is to remind them that husbands are men, and that men must eat. We can tell them, moreover, that men attach no small importance to this very essential operation, and that a very effectual way to keep them in good-humor, as well as good condition, is for wives to study their husband's peculiar likes and dislikes in this matter. Let the wife try, therefore, if she have not already done so, to get up a little knowledge of the art of _ordering_ dinner, to say the least of it. This task, if she be disposed to learn it, will in time be easy enough; moreover, if in addition she should acquire some practical knowledge of cookery, she will find ample reward in the gratification it will be the means of affording her husband.
Servants are difficult subjects for a young wife to handle: she generally either spoils them by indulgence, or ruins them by finding fault unfairly. At last they either get the better of her, or she is voted too bad for them. The art lies in steady command and management of yourself as well as them. The well-known Dr. Clark, who was always well served, used to say, "It is so extremely difficult to get good servants, that we should not lightly give them up when even tolerable. My advice is, bear a little with them, and do not be too sharp; pass by little things with gentle reprehension: now and then a little serious advice does far more good than sudden fault-finding when the offence justly occurs. If my wife had not acted in this way, we must have been continually changing, and nothing can be more disagreeable in a family, and, indeed, it is generally disgraceful."
An observance of the few following rules will in all probability ensure a life of domestic harmony, peace, and comfort:--
To hear as little as possible whatever is to the prejudice of others; to believe nothing of the kind until you are compelled to admit the truth of it; never to take part in the circulation of evil report and idle gossip; always to moderate, as far as possible, harsh and unkind expressions reflecting upon others; always to believe that if the other side were heard, a very different account might be given of the matter.
In conclusion, we say emphatically to the newly-wedded wife, that attention to these practical hints will prolong her honeymoon throughout the whole period of wedded life, and cause her husband, as each year adds to the sum of his happiness, to bless the day when he first chose her as the nucleus round which he might consolidate the inestimable blessings of HOME.
"How fair is home, in fancy's pictured theme, In wedded life, in love's romantic dream! Thence springs each hope, there every spring returns, Pure as the flame that upward heavenward burns; There sits the wife, whose radiant smile is given-- The daily sun of the domestic heaven; And when calm evening sheds a secret power, Her looks of love imparadise the hour; While children round, a beauteous train, appear, Attendant stars, revolving in her sphere."
HOLLAND'S _Hopes of Matrimony_.
Page Last Updated February 11, 2008
Copyright 1996 -2012 Etiquette Hell LLC. All rights reserved. No portion of this web page may be copied without written permission from the web page owner. Etiquette Hell is a registered trademark.