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Thursday, July 2, 2015

WEDDING DRESS HISTORY WITH GUEST AUTHOR AILEEN HARDWOOD

The Wedding of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert
Aileen Harkwood is a Readers’ Crown finalist who lives in the Southern Rockies. The Last Wedding at Drayhome is the prequel to two concurrent series of fantasy romances, Spell Touched and Wedding Spell, due out in September. Learn more about her and her books at her website

Queen Victoria
And the Bride Wore Brown?

Many assume the traditional wedding dress for a bride in the western world has always been white, but that’s because few of us alive today were born early enough to remember differently. Can you imagine a bride in red? Were you a young girl from a wealthy European family during the 19th century, you might have daydreamed about wearing a scarlet gown draped in fur to your nuptials. Historically brides have worn a variety of colors, gray, black, yellow, and yes, brown.

Many assume today’s wedding dresses are white because that is the only color one connects with purity, when in fact blue was originally the color to communicate that virtue and was a popular choice for wedding gowns through the 1800s.

So how did white weddings become the thing? We have Queen Victoria to thank for that. When she wed her beloved Prince Albert 175 years ago, she broke with the royal tradition of wearing a heavy brocade gown embroidered with silver thread and selected one of creamy white satin, trimmed in flounces of Honiton lace. Her goal was to support her country’s cottage lace industry, primarily housed in Honiton and Beer in Devon. Instead of a tiara, she chose a wreath of orange blossoms, a symbol of fertility. Her slippers were of white satin and her veil constructed of additional Honiton lace.
Queen Victoria's Wedding Slippers

Victoria also forever altered the cultural bias toward blue as a symbolic color for purity when a decade following her wedding Godey’s Lady’s Book championed the royal’s choice, “…white is the most fitting hue, whatever may be the material. It is an emblem of the purity and innocence of girlhood, and the unsullied heart she now yields to the chosen one.”

While the ton might have been impressed by the Queen’s daring in selecting a color that until that time was often associated with mourning, (yes, white was the color of death!), it wasn’t until the end of the 19th century that white became de rigueur across the pond. Here in the U.S. other colors weren’t pushed out until WWII, a century after Victoria’s 1840 wedding to Prince Albert.

Why? Simple economics. White is difficult to keep clean and until modern laundering technologies came along, not to mention the burgeoning prosperity of the mid-20th century, only the wealthiest women could afford to fork over a significant wad of cash for a dress easily ruined by the first wine spill. Instead, wedding dresses were more often a bride’s “best dress,” one she was expected to wear again, gussied up for the day with a bit of lace or a flower or two.

And the bride wore brown. 

MAGICAL WEDDINGS: 15 Enchanting Romances

If you love contemporary wedding romance, enjoy a touch of the paranormal--witches, psychic pets, ghosts--or if your favorite beach read is romantic comedy, historical or military romance, don't miss this engaging boxed set of all stand-alone stories (no cliffhangers) which includes 14 new releases written expressly for this set. Whether real or only in the hearts of the bride and groom, the magic of weddings is undeniable. And irresistible! As these 15 enchanting happily-ever-afters by bestselling and award-winning authors prove. From sweet to spicy, the romances bundled into this set cross time and unite hearts, cast spells of laughter, battle wedding jitters and fight back tears, while weaving love’s hopeful magic throughout 1400 pages.


The story I’ve contributed to Magical Weddings is:

The Last Wedding at Drayhome (Breens Mist Witches)

Never underestimate the power of a witch and warlock in love who have nothing left to lose…

Every witch and warlock in Breens Mist, Oregon has one main talent that guides their destiny. Colleen McColly’s gift is to be caretaker and voice for Drayhome, a magical estate with a mind of its own. Sent under the guise of helping to prepare for a wedding, warlock Terry “Ax” Paxton has orders to evict Colleen, and end Drayhome’s century-plus-reign as the heart and soul of Breens Mist. It’s a duty against which Ax rebels, not just because it’s wrong, but because he and Colleen have a connection of their own, raw, passionate and too many years denied.

6 comments:

Angela Adams said...

Very interesting post. Thanks!

Aileen Harkwood ~ Romance Author said...

Thank you, Angela! What I found interesting were the photos of women in the late 1800s who couldn't afford a new gown, but did their best with a bit of lace at the collar or pinning a flower on the dress. While modern brides only theirs once, the woman who did this would automatically remember her wedding day each time she wore that dress. Kind of sweet. :)

Aileen Harkwood ~ Romance Author said...

only theirs = only wear theirs

Rosemarie said...

My wedding dress was a latte brown Battenburg lace pigeon-front dress ca. 1915. And I was married in 2001 :)

Rose Gorham said...

Enjoyed reading your post, Aileen.

Aileen Harkwood ~ Romance Author said...

Thank you, Rose! I found it interesting to research. Rosemarie, your dress sounds amazing. A family heirloom?