The Regency Era Wedding
By Sabrina Jeffries, Author of Undercover Duke, Duke Dynasty, Book 4
My books rarely feature a wedding, since I find the journey to that event far more interesting. But when I do include one, as I did in Undercover Duke, I make it as accurate as possible. So here are some facts about Regency weddings that differ from today’s affairs.
The Ring: Although the groom gave the bride a ring, a custom dating back to Roman days, the custom of the bride giving the groom a wedding ring wasn’t popularized until World War II. Certainly, in the Regency, it would have been uncommon.
The Wedding Gown: Women didn’t necessarily wear “wedding” gowns. Often, they wore their best dress. Even if they did have a gown made specifically for their wedding, it didn’t have to be white. It was just as often light blue or silver or even a darker color, if the bride wanted to wear it for other occasions. Queen Victoria was actually the one to popularize the white wedding gown. Not long after her wedding, Englishwomen began wearing white to their own ceremonies, a custom which soon spread to America.
Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue: The tradition of needing these items at one’s wedding only dates back to the 1870s in Lancashire. The various items (along with the sixpence in the bride’s shoe) were intended to ward off the Evil Eye and the variations of bad luck it could inflict on the happy couple. Fear of the baleful Evil Eye is far older, going back to antiquity, and a number of different cultures share the superstition. But the little ditty for weddings isn’t nearly as old and has turned into something more sentimental than anything.
The Wedding Breakfast: That special meal developed because of the rules at the time governing when one could marry. Unless the groom sprung for a special license, the couple was required to wed between 8 a.m. and noon. So it made sense that after the wedding, the guests would need sustenance. That’s why what we might call a reception today was called a wedding breakfast in the early nineteenth century and on through to the twenty-first century, although it’s not as widely practiced in the United Kingdom as it was then.
Suffice it to say, these are only a few characteristics of Regency weddings that might differ from our modern-day customs. But one thing remains the same—a wedding is always between two people who love each other!
About the Author
Sabrina Jeffries is the New York Times best-selling author of more than fifty novels and works of short fiction (some written under the pseudonyms Deborah Martin and Deborah Nicholas). Whatever time not spent writing in a coffee-fueled haze is spent traveling with her husband and adult autistic son or indulging in one of her passions: jigsaw puzzles, chocolate, and music. With over nine million books in print in more than twenty-one languages, the North Carolina author never regrets tossing aside a budding career in academics for the sheer joy of writing fun fiction and hopes that one day a book of hers will end up saving the world. She always dreams big. Readers can find her at SabrinaJeffries.com.
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