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Victorian Themed Weddings
Most Popular Wedding Theme
The wedding business has seen a rush of new ideas in the past few years, everything from brightly colored gowns to highly choreographed first dances. Trending for weddings is an idea that has been lingering around for a couple of years, but coming full circle soon and that is Victorian-themed weddings. Perhaps it's because there has been a resurgence in retro style in recent years making everything old new again that we have started delving even further back in our history. Or perhaps the lack of grace and civility in society today has turned people's attention back to a kinder and gentler time period when beauty, style and good manners reigned and weddings were huge social occasions.
Victorian Weddings On A Budget
A Victorian wedding can be a massive, elaborate, ornate affair as the Victorians themselves were inclined to do, but that doesn't mean you have to blow your budget to have the wedding of your dreams! There are definitely ways you can cut your costs with DIY projects from invitations to wedding gowns to flowers and favors that will make a huge impression without making a huge impact on your budget. The Victorian era started in 1837 when Queen Victoria took the throne until 1901, so let's start by visiting some of the popular trends in Victorian society during that time period and see how we can incorporate them into a gorgeous Victorian wedding that won't break the bank!
Victorian Cards & Ephemera For Invitations and Save The Dates
The Victorians were huge fans of the written word. They loved fancy stationary, note cards and calling cards, the more ornate the artwork, the better. There are many websites that offer free downloadable Victorian art that would be perfect for Save The Date Cards, wedding & luncheon invitations, place cards, table numbers, and thank you notes. A fantastic save the date would be a reprint of a Victorian postcard perhaps addressed in beautiful calligraphy. Since Victorians were avid letter writers, good penmanship was highly valued, so if yours isn't the greatest, pass it on to a friend who does have lovely handwriting. Wallpaper, the more ornate the better, was another thing that Victorians loved and appreciated, particularly paper that was flocked or a large floral print. Wallpaper could be used for all sorts of DIY projects such as banners to hang at the reception or to cover a box with to make a wedding card box, so go to a wallpaper store and get them to cut some samples for you. A lot of stores are very generous with their samples and carry wallpapers that have an older look to them.
Victorian Bouquets & Tussy Mussies
Flowers and gardens were very important to the Victorian lifestyle, so a possible wedding venue that would be perfect for your wedding would be a garden. Maybe you have a friend who is an avid gardener who would love to host your wedding in her garden. Depending on the type of flowers in her garden, she could also help you save money on the bouquets as well! Victorian brides loved to use roses in their bouquets as well as selecting each flower according to its special meaning. Yes, Victorians valued flowers so much that each one has a special significance, even in colors of roses. Roses could have different meanings depending on their colors:
White - Innocence, purity
Red - Love, romance
Yellow - Happiness, friendship
Pink- Joy, admiration
Orange - Desire
Lavender - Love at first sight
Besides roses, Victorian bouquets also could include forget-me-nots, peonies,edible flowers of all varieties and dill which was thought to be an aphrodisiac which the couple ate after the wedding. Ivy was often used in the bouquet and was later rooted and planted in the garden of the new bride. Bride's bouquets could be very elaborate with cascading flowers or very small and compact.
Tussie Mussies For Your Wedding Bouquet
An extremely popular floral bouquet in Victorian times was the tussie mussie. Tussie mussies were small bouquets of herbs and flowers first devised as a mean of warding off unpleasant odors in the streets and during the days when bathing was not necessarily a priority among some individuals. Luckily, tussie mussies evolved into a lovely symbolic gift for new suitors to give the woman they were courting or friends to share among each other. Each flower was carefully selected and had a specific meaning for the recipient and giver. Silver tussie mussie holders might be something you want to include in your wedding as a keepsake for your bridesmaids, with each bridesmaids' bouquet made slightly different according to the flowers in it.
Victorian Wedding Cakes
If you wanted to stay true to form, your wedding cake for your Victorian wedding would be a fruitcake, because that is what the Victorians originally served at weddings. It was a dark cake covered in white icing that was usually highly decorated with all sorts of flourishes and swags. In many cases, there were three cakes: small ones for the bride and groom, and then the wedding cake itself. A very sweet custom was including wedding charms into the assembly of the cake. The charms were generally silver and attached to a thin piece of ribbon. As the cake was put together, the ribbons were laid across the layers with the charm inside the cake itself and the ribbons extending from the cake. At the reception, the bridesmaids would pull the ribbons until the charm emerged. Each charm had a special meaning: a ring meant that she who pulled it would marry within the year, a coin was for wealth, a horseshoe for luck, and so on. As time went on, the wedding charm tradition was dropped as was the fruitcake and wedding cakes became all white and quite elaborate affairs with flowers, pearls, lace, and festoons draping the sides.
Victorian Wedding Dresses
Even though today brides traditionally wear white, this was not always the custom. Before Queen Victoria's marriage to Prince Albert, brides normally wore anything but white, because white signified poverty. Brides generally wore a traveling dress to get married in since they often left after the reception to go on their honeymoon trip. The traveling dress was usually of a dark color, grey or brown, so as not to show dirt while traveling. Queen Victoria changed all that with her elaborate white wedding gown and with the color change, so did the style. Many people picture Victorian wedding gowns with high necks and big mutton style sleeves, but that was not always the case. Many wedding gowns were off the shoulder. Initially, the bustle was in favor with a swagged straight skirt, but in the late 1800's, the bustle fell out of fashion and wedding dresses became even more over the top with huge ballroom skirts, elaborate trains and multiple hoops worn underneath to hold the dress out and away from the body. Although there are not many Victorian wedding dresses on the market anymore, there are still replicas and patterns that you could duplicate for your wedding gown.
Victorian Wedding Jewelry
Jewelry in the Victorian era was very ornate featuring flowers, heavy chains, pearls, diamonds, with birds & sometimes lizards as motifs. Broaches were very popular and that might be something you csan easily incorporate into your wedding by pinning them onto the ribbon surrounding the stems of your hand-tied bouquet, giving them as gifts to bridesmaids, or pinning them onto your dress. The great thing about broaches is that there are still many of them around in thrift and antique stores for reasonable prices. Black jet beads became incredibly popular also after Prince Albert died and Queen Victoria went into mourning, refusing to wear anything except black clothing and jewery.
The ultimate piece of Victorian jewelry, however, was the cameo. Cameos were raised profiles carved from shells or gemstones placed on a background of a contrasting color and came in a multitude of styles and designs. They were incorporated into rings, necklaces, watches, bracelets, earrings, broaches and wherever the Victorians thought they could use them. A cameo choker would be gorgeous with your wedding gown; you may even want to ask your husband-to-be for one as a wedding ring!
Victorian Wedding Favors
The Victorians loved trinkets and lived to give gifts, the more unique and intricate, the better. They could take the most ordinary object like a hairpin and turn it into something beautiful and suitable for gift giving. A central motif in favors was the skeleton key which appeared on many objects from jewelry to ornate boxes to corkscrews. Paper boxes were also very popular as well as cones made from beautiful paper and filled with candies, nuts, flower petals, etc. There are so many beautiful scrapbooking papers available now, you could make favor cones and give them as gifts filled with the item of your choice. If you have a seated reception, you could hang them on the back of your guests' chairs with organiza ribbon for a beautiful and elegant touch.
Victorian Wedding Receptions
Victorian weddings were scheduled for many years in the morning, because it was required by law until the 1880's. Fashionable weddings were held between the hours of 10:00 a.m. and 12:00 noon, and usually no later than 3:30 p.m. Having a morning or early afternoon wedding could work out in your favor since many caterers and florists charge less for weddings earlier in the day, because those are not premium hours. Having a morning or early afternoon wedding could also help you avoid running into the dinner hour when guests would be expecting a full meal.
Serving a tea would be perfect for cutting costs at your wedding and add a quaint touch. Teas were done in courses and consisted of the serving of the tea, a savories course, usually many different varieties of sandwiches and other appetizers, a scones course with scones, muffins, and other types of tea breads, and finally, the sweets and pastries course with yummies like chocolate dipped strawberries, tea cakes, and cookies. You could scrounge antique china from friends, your mother or grandmother or pick up pieces at thrift stores. You could even set up a tea buffet, so guests can sample several different varieties of hot and cold tea.
Your Victorian Wedding
There are many, many ways to have the beautiful Victorian wedding of your dreams and still stay within your budget. Do your research, scrounge antique and thrift stores, talk with elderly relatives and friends, and borrow, borrow, borrow! Don't forget that for the Victorians, weddings were the most important day in a woman's life...no pressure there! Have the time of your life and remember to take lots of (black & white!) photographs!