Sunday, 2 December 2012

A Vintage Wedding - 1990 & 1890 Style

I was married in December 1990. It was a strange fashion time, no longer the 80s but not quite anything else yet.  Neon and acid wash was still in, sadly, but I remember stirrup pants and body suits as the thing to wear.  Puffy, full skirted wedding dresses were quite popular still, thanks mainly to Charles and Diana’s wedding in 1981, as were  fishtail gowns.  Scott and Charlene's Neighbour's wedding in 1987 also spurned a movement, especially in gyp in bouquet and headpieces, and her dress was quite Victorian in style. Strapless gowns did make an appearance, but hadn't yet become the ultimate bridal dress, as they seem to be now.   Really anything went, but white and ivory were the colours to wear, with pastel bridesmaids.

Scott and Charlene (played by Jason Donovan and Kylie Minogue), 1987

What about 100 years earlier?  The Wedding Day was the most important event in a Victorian girl's life – she knew no other ambition.  Only women in  Wyoming (from 1869) and in Utah (from 1870) were allowed to vote.  Australian women would wait another four years.  Women has no rights – unless she were rich in her own right, she had to   marry, and marry well.

A New Zealand wedding party of 1890, all in white, except the groom source
Many brides chose to be married in June,  named after Juno, Roman goddess of marriage. June also signified the end of Lent and the arrival of warmer weather in the northern hemisphere, time to remove winter clothing and partake in one's annual bath – definitely a must before your wedding! April was favoured in Southern United Sates, as it was less hot, and April, November and December did not conflict with peak farm work months. October, the harvest month,  was considered auspicious but May was considered unlucky. "Marry in May and rue the day," an old proverb goes. But "Marry in September's shine, your living will be rich and fine."  In Australia it was similar, with British and European traditions followed, although March is now our most popular wedding season, being at the end of a hot summer.

Illustration of Victoria and Alberts Wedding, 1840 (they rein acted it for film in 1853) source

The marriage of Queen Victoria to her cousin Albert of Saxe- Coburg in 1840 has had more influence on weddings than any other –the Queen wore white and set it as THE colour of choice for weddings.  Strangely though the men's’ breeches did not remain a tradition.  In 1890, Ladies Home Journal wrote: “That from times immemorial the bride’s gown has been white”. Although this statement was not true, it shows how deeply accepted it was that a wedding gown be white.   The style of wedding dresses of the 1890s closely resembles the fashions of the time,  with a fitted bodice, small waist, and full skirt over hoops and petticoats.  The fabric would be organdie, tulle, lace, gauze, silk, linen or cashmere, with the fine gauze veil in sheer cotton or lace.  Veils were attached to a coronet of flowers, often orange blossoms for the bride and roses or other in-season flowers for the attendants, who would also wear white. The bride's accessories included short white kid gloves, silk stockings embroidered up the front, and shoes decorated with bows or ribbons at the instep.

1. Cuban American couple Jenny and Ygnacio Castaneda on their wedding day in Florida, 1890, source
The brides dress has a layered skirt and the fabric looks to be lace, and she wears a garland of flowers instead of a corsage or bouquet.  The groom wears tails and carries his gloves. I imagine his top hat is nearby.

2. Unknown but smart wedding couple, 1890 source

Give him a hug, come on you’re allowed to now! The groom has his arm around his bride, unusual in wedding photos of the time,.  The brides dress has a short train, and the groom wears a long jacket with patent leather shoes, and a super moustache.

3. Minne Cory marries Mr Kent, Chicago, 1890 source 
Minnie’s floor length skirt has a ruffled trim, and it looks like she is wearing a jacket over the skirt. She has a central corsage and some flowers in her hair with her long veil

4. Sgt Major Nickel and his wife. Toowoomba, QLD 1890 source
Mrs Nichel's wedding gown shows a pin-tucked skirt, her simple veil is embroidered and trimmed with lace. She is carrying a bouquet and has a corsage pinned to her bodice, the flowers are repeated in her hair. The groom's dark suit is adorned with a corsage and fob chain.

5. David and Clara Boyton on their wedding day, Wagga Wagga, Australia, 18 December 1890 source

The bride’s dress has frills at the hem and she wears her corsage at the centre rather than the side, and she carries a fan – a concession to a strong Australian summer no doubt! The groom wears lighter pants and boots with his dark jacket and waistcoat.

6. Charles H. Castle and Alice Horton were married on Dec 25,1890 in New York source
Not all brides wore white. Some brides, especially those of the American frontier of the Australian outback, wore dresses that were more practical and could be worn after the wedding. This dress, or rather skirt and separate jacket, look to be ivory.

7. Carl Ernst Miller and Wilhemina Caroline Abrahm 7 June 1890 source

The bride has a small corsage, and looks to have a ribbon draped across her, but no veil or bouquet.  The couple are not touching, either.  In this next photo the couple are almost touching, and the bride wears a long black jacket with a white bow over a black skirt, with no flowers to be seen.

8. George Stahl and Amy Ann Brooks, wedding in Iowa, 1890 source

9. The Swedish wedding of Brudparet Olinus and Berta Nilsson source

Her dark dress is accented with white lace and a large ribbon, and a long veil with an interesting head piece. A similar dress with larger headpiece  in another Swedish wedding.  And the dark gloves are interesting. I suppose it may be very cold!
10. Brudparet Per Persson and Brita Eriksdotter , in Hälsingland. 1890. source

I think my favourite gown is number 9, what about you?  Oh, and please, if you know what the Swedish head pieces were made of, let me know. I’m sure it’s not gingerbread, although it does look a bit like it!

Deb xxx

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