Reader Stories of Wedding Gowns, Vol. 5, Issue 8

As you might expect, Etiquetteer has heard some interesting stories in response to last week’s rambling on the color of the bridal gown. Etiquetteer will share some of the choicest with you this week:From a wedding guest: "Those of us with friends in [Insert Flashy Industry Here] are just happy when the bride isn't - as we say - half nekkid. This year I've seen bridesmaids all wearing black, brides carrying babies, four-footed maids of honor, veils worn at a bride's fourth wedding, drunken mothers, and a preacher who got her degree via mail order. None of them told me what to wear. [Etiquetteer adds: Etiquetteer just cannot approve of including pets in the wedding party, no matter how devoted you all are to each other. Lady Bird Johnson would not even allow her daughter’s pet poodle into the wedding photographs at the White House, and Etiquetteer wouldn’t dream of arguing with her.]From a young matron: My own mother got married at age and didn't wear white. She wore a light pink, tea-length gown that went well with the roses she carried for her bouquet. But my aunt loves clothing, and vintage clothing, and used to do fashion shows with wedding dresses of different vintages.I can tell you on her authority that in Colonial times in America, the most prestigious color to wear for one's wedding was black, because it was the costliest, most difficult to get fabric, due to dye technology of the era. Other less wealthy brides usually chose a solid color, a lovely deep blue, and a slightly faded green from the 1800s, as well as a nice brown taffeta were amongst those featured in her fashion show. [Etiquetteer adds:Those who are interested should rush out and readColor: A History of the Palette, by Victoria Findlay, which explains all about how black clothes were made black in the 18th and 19th centuries.]Only into the 20th century, as you noted during Victoria's reign in England, did white become the color of choice. When my mother's mother got married, she had a white flapper-style gown, but tradition of her day dictated that one didn't save her gown. After the wedding, she dyed it yellow and wore it until it was worn out. [Etiquetteer adds:Etiquetteer’s beloved grandmother made over her orange wedding dress after the wedding and regretted it ever afterward.]My great-great-grandmother (she and her sister were ladies-in-waiting and seamstresses for Queen Victoria) came to America with my infant great-grandmother and no husband in tow. They were very fine seamstresses, and made lace by hand. One nice tradition is that a lace collar that was on my grandmother's dress was saved and used for the wedding gowns of my mother and older sister. We decided to keep it just for eldest daughters, so I chose a different piece of antique handmade lace to incorporate into my own wedding dress.From a Midwestern matron: My step-mother was very opposed to my marrying my husband in any sort of public ceremony since we had lived together for four years prior to our wedding. (My step-mother went so far as to offer us money if we would elope!) I wanted a wedding and so the compromise was a small wedding at my parent’s home on the East Coast. It was lovely. My husband and I wrote our vows and I wore an ivory tea-length dress and an ivory hat with a small veil on the rim and fresh flowers on the side.

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