What would a Victorian Wedding have been like?

Samantha PillingLatest News, Weddings

Victorian Wedding

A Victorian wedding was a most important celebration. The day was an important one, not only for the bride and groom, but also the bride’s mother – as she’d been preparing and planning for this day since her daughter first arrived in the world.

When it came to Victorian weddings, EVERYTHING was important! The attire of the bride and groom was carefully planned, along with the rest of the wedding party, and even the time, day and month of the wedding was critical.

Marry in May, Rue the day

Weddings couldn’t be held during the month of May as, according to the old saying ‘marry in May, rue the day’. June was a popular, partly because its name originated from the Roman Goddess Juno, the goddess of marriage and also because it fell at the end of Lent and during the warmer weather. Other popular choices included April, November and December, as it wouldn’t clash with any farming commitments.

As for the best day to hold a wedding – Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday were the best choices – and the ceremony would usually be held between 10am and noon.

Victorian Wedding Fashion

The bride would wear low-heeled shoes, a traditional white dress with a train, made of silk, linen or lace and have a mid to long veil, made from sheer cotton or lace and held in place with either a flower garland or a diamond tiara. Her jewellery would either be a family heirloom or a gift from the groom – with diamonds and pearls being the most popular choices. She would carry a spray of lilies or

Unlike modern weddings, the bridesmaids would also wear white dresses and short veils, but their shoes would be flat. It was important that their dresses be functional, as they often became part of the everyday wardrobe, once the wedding was over.

The groom would wear the colours. He’d opt for a blue, mulberry or claret coloured frockcoat, with a white (or light coloured) double-breasted waistcoat and grey striped trousers. His best man and groomsman would wear the same, however theirs were always more subdued – and all men would wear a black top hat and a flower in their lapel.

There would also be children in the procession. Young girls would be either flower girls or ring bearers. They’d wear white dresses with coloured ribbon sashes that matched their shoes and stockings. It was the young boys job to hold up the bride’s train. They’d be dressed in short trousers and velvet jackets of blue, black, green or red.

The Wedding Ceremony

The ceremony itself was very similar to the weddings that are held today – it was usually held in the bride’s parish church (rarely, at home), the bells would peal, flowers would adorn the church and the newly married couple would sign the parish register. The wedding ring (as it was usual for only the bride to have one), would be a plain gold band and their initials, along with the date, would be engraved inside. If the bride lived near to the church, she would walk; if she was wealthy, she’d have a wedding carriage, pulled by a grey horse.

Don’t look at the guests!

After the ceremony, the couple would leave the church, being careful not to look left or right, as it was considered bad taste to acknowledge the guests. The best man would stay behind to pay the clergyman. As the couple made their way toward the wedding carriage (often pulled by four white horses), the guests would throw rice, grain or birdseed, as a symbol of fertility. The carriage would then pull away, taking the happy couple to their breakfast reception.

Photo Credit: Lamberdebie Flowers

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