Well, ladies and gents!

One of the most important events in a woman’s life, timelessly and internationally, is marriage. Most women, at every age, growing up think about their marriage. Don’t tell me you didn’t do it, too!

Naturally, things are completely different in today’s era than how they were in the Regency era. The conditions, the economy, the materials that were available at that time were dramatically influential even in such an important event as a wedding.

Keep reading, this article is going to be a fun one 😉

Wedding Dress

Which future bride does not devote hours, days, months in choosing the right wedding dress? This is both instantaneous and at the same time important to the bride. Let’s not forget that the purpose of a wedding dress is to be used for one day only. Where else would you go wearing your wedding dress? Dinner? 🙂

I don’t think it’s any more of a surprise that even the wedding dress was completely different back then. The cost of the fabrics made them prohibitive even for wealthy families. Only a very wealthy bride would be considered to make a dress that she was going to wear only once. So it made sense for them to make a good dress for their wedding day…but not a bridal one. A dress they could wear again!

The modern trend of the white wedding dress did not exist at that time. Maintaining a white outfit back then was almost impossible. If we consider the conditions, we will understand why. The only wash available back then was hand washing. Or in the best case, washing in a water mill. 

Only wealthy families could afford white fabrics. So most of them used colored fabrics. Ordinary colors such as yellow, green and blue were very common. Middle or low-income families, due to financial difficulty, used to wear dark colors such as black, dark brown, burgundy. These are colors that could uphold for years without fading.

Also, the type of fabric differed according to the financial situation of the family. If the bride could afford it she would use silk, satin, and lace. The decorations on the wedding dress could be changed so the bride could wear the dress again, after the wedding. Brides did not wear a veil as this fashion came from France during the Victorian era. 

Groom’s Attire

As is natural, the groom’s attire was different. Another era, different customs, different morals.

Grooms usually wore a dark cutaway, tailed jacket, with the buttons left open to show the waistcoat. Inside the waistcoat, they wore white shirts made of muslin or linen, with a white string. The one place on a man’s attire which could be of bright colors was the waistcoat.  The groom’s attire was complete with black socks and a hat.

Invitations and Announcements

Another important parameter in a wedding is choosing the right invitations.

Depending on the status and financial position of the family, the marriage was held in small circles. Apart from the families of the groom and the bride, there were witnesses, the bridesmaid and groomsman and of course the priest. Neighbors, friends, and others who wanted to wish the couple, waited outside the church. Obviously those who lived far away were difficult to attend.

The announcement in the newspaper, local and national, was very important. Indeed, it was given that it would be published in the newspaper and it was that fact which validated the couple’s union. Finally, in the announcements, it was customary to name the bride’s father, not her own. In addition, it was important that all titles were written. Yet again, who would dare to forget them?

Ceremony

Regency-era weddings were not complicated and were ordained by the church. The only thing needed to validate the marriage was the priest, two witnesses and a parish clerk who would have to make sure to officially register the marriage.

Weddings took place in the morning, in the sunshine and on any day, although on weekends they were avoided. Saturday was considered sacred, and Sunday service was held at the church, which would cause problems for the wedding ceremony.

The guests arrived at the church on foot, as the carriages were not easily accessible to anyone. Only the wealthy could afford to own or hire a carriage for this purpose.  Flowers, herbs, and others were spread out in the space in order to give a different atmosphere to the event. The bride was handed over to the groom by her father, the couple exchanged vows and rings. The ring also differed depending on the financial status of each family. But in any case, it was necessary, as without ring there was no wedding.

Marriage Lines

When the ceremony was over, the newly married couple, the priest, two witnesses and the parish official, would sign the “marriage lines” in the parish register book. 

These “marriage lines” made the wedding official and were the legal proof that it had been done. They produced a copy that they handed over as the bride’s property. 

Wedding Breakfast

The signatures were followed by a meal in honor of the newlyweds. Since weddings were held in the morning, the wedding table was serving breakfast! Well, of course!

Regardless of whether they were invited to the ceremony, the couple’s friends and relatives were invited to the wedding breakfast. Many times, however, the couple left the church and went straight to the honeymoon so the guests celebrated on their own.

Wedding Cake

Regency-era sweets were very different from the ones we know today and naturally depended on the materials they could supply. They usually had fruitcake, soaked with amounts of alcohol, mostly wine, brandy or rum. Almond crumbs were poured on the top and then baked in the oven.

If a family wanted to show off their wealth, they would cover the cake with sugar icing to make it white. Sugar at that time was very expensive, so the more sugar the cake had, the more money the couple had.

Honeymoons

After the wedding, the bride moved in with her husband. Most couples, as we said, started their honeymoon right after the ceremony. It wasn’t the rule, though. The honeymoon depended on the season, the year, the developments that existed—for example, whether there was an increase in bandits—as well as the financial potential of each couple.

It was very common to dedicate honeymoon trips to visit long-lived family members. Alternatively, they chose romantic destinations, maybe on a lake. Still, if they had any business, for example, some remote plantations, they would certainly combine work and vacations.

It was also very common, the bride’s sister or best friend to travel with the couple. This may seem strange to us now, but it was necessary at that time. Because, let’s not forget, most couples didn’t know each other. They had spent very little time together before the wedding, so it was important that there was a familiar person to avoid awkward discussions.

Well, that’s it, sweetie!

Thank you for reading this article of mine! Please let me know your thoughts about it—did you enjoy it? 

If there is anything else you’d be interested in reading about the Regency Era, feel free to let me know…

…and who knows? Maybe you will read about it soon!

Written by Olivia Bennet

64 COMMENTS

  1. I’m sure those days are long gone! I wouldn’t want to marry a man I had not met, picked, and didn’t care about. Happy to live now!

  2. I guess the honeymoon was the scary, most don,t know there new husband, don’t i would run away, & Might get a job that would be bad in that time, I married in the courthouse, I was a big chicken and have to be pushed down to the groom, that would be funny I could maybe end up anywhere in the church.

  3. I’m glad I wasn’t a young woman who then! It was my understanding that Queen Victoria started the white wedding dress custom.

  4. Of course, it is expected that wedding today are not the same as in the past. You provided interesting detains.
    I am glad I married in “current” times. Thanks for the information.

  5. I thoroughly enjoyed reading about the marriages back then. I love the regency and Victorian era’s, hense I love reading your books and all the information. Thank you for sharing ❤️

  6. Well, times have changed since the ‘happy’ Regency era but not so very much. Sure brides today plan things down to the last detail & this can often prove to be prohibitively expensive but some brides do prefer to have their nuptials in the Registry Office of their home town. Having a priest is also not often an option as many brides today have a Wedding Celebrant do the honours. Witnesses to the wedding are usually members of the bridal party. Wedding Certificates are always presented to the bride & is part of her property & evidence that the ceremony did happen.
    As for the responsibilities/costs for such a wedding it usually falls between both families sharing & if it’s a second wedding then the costs are born by the couple. In some cultures today the traditional responsibilities prevail, costs being born by the bride’s family. Honeymoons can be elaborate & very brief as they often entail travel overseas but they are nevertheless fun to have with loads of time alone getting to know each other without others to distract them.

  7. What an interesting and informative article! Wedding ceremonies and especially some of the “honeymoon ” customs have certainly changed since then! I cannot imagine my younger sister accompanying me on my honeymoon all those years ago when I got married; she was only 12 years old at the time; talk about awkward! Thanks once again for sharing these interesting bits and pieces of Regency era history and customs with us!

  8. In that era sometimes the bride never met the groom until the wedding day. So I have read. That would be hard to accept allowing my dad or family to choose my husband. My have times have changed. Thank you for this article so enlightening. Love your books.

  9. Thanks for sharing. I find it amazing how much life has changed. Seems like things were so much more uncomplicated and much more private. Gentlemen held your hand and doors and treated you with kindness. I am a romantic at heart. Glad that some things have changed but still like for a man to be gallant.

  10. I always enjoy your informative articles. I particularly like when you use illustrations and/or other things to give us visual learners a treat. I don’t recall reading about anyone going on the honeymoon in any of the books that I’ve read. I found that very interesting. Thanks again for your research and interesting tidbits about that ere.

  11. Thank you for this information. It helps to get a feel for and understanding of the era. Every culture and age had its own traditions. Now we can compare the “times”…

  12. I always enjoy the Cobalt Fairy articles. Nearly always learn a thing or two as well! I noted in your article today that rings were exchanged. No rings, no wedding. Did men wear wedding rings too? That’s a new fact for me to learn!!! What did wedding rings look like back then? Did the couple’s rings match?

  13. Olivia, that was a very interesting article. I love your articles. Clearly, you are very well versed in the Regency Era. You must have lived history when uou were in school. Thank you for these little treats. Have a blessed evening. Trish

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