When Queen Victoria was married in 1840, she opted to give up her royal titles for a day as she attended her wedding to Prince Albert. She wore no crown, fur, or royal accessories and stuck with a simple veil and white wedding dress of purity as she promised to fulfil the needs of being a wife. Her marriage represented the Victorian wedding ideal in more than one aspect.
So, how can we perform a modern-day Victorian wedding in 2022? Today, Thorum is on the mission to bring you a top guide to a Victorian wedding.
If you want to get married like a Victorian, knowing how they dated is a great way to warm up to throwing yourself into a Victorian wedding.
Dating was heavily regulated in rules as we see today, and like with our worries, many found they needed a little help to find that perfect person. As a result, many would turn to dating self-help books, including Maiden, Prepare to Become a Happy Wife and Mother (1868). Manuals like this helped feed a society which upheld the traditional roles of ‘man’ and ‘woman’.
So what activities might a Victorian couple do?
In England, it was common for social events in the upper classes to be where most couples met and dated. This could involve a grand ball, dancing, and an equally lavish banquet.
If the sun is out, the estate might have a massive garden to take a private stroll through the gardens and share a cup of tea. A ride into the woods was also a favourite pursuit if there were horses.
Playing music, singing, and reading aloud books was a relaxing downtime activity you could share with a partner. However, these were reserved mainly for the well-to-do classes.
Ordinary people might advertise their desire for a partner in a local newspaper and meet their future wedding partner from there. Working and attending social clubs was another way dating quickly turned to proposal and marriage.
Dating was a short affair; it would often be the man's role to propose to the woman he fancied. Often family pressure was put on a woman of lower economic status if a proposal came from a wealthy man to marry him even if she did not love him. Those that declined proposals might have turned her against her own family and the society she socialised.
It was rare for an upper-class woman to work, and only the poorest went out of necessities, so naturally, the pressure to find a husband always weighed on the Victorian woman’s consciousness. To find a rich husband was one thing, but to marry someone you may also love was extraordinary.
Putting the deary side of history to one end of the room, let's now talk about some of the lighter parts of Victorian weddings. Of course, the most famous face in Victorian England was Queen Q, and did you know that she was the one to propose to her husband, Albert?
How to Dress for a Victorian Wedding?
Wedding attire in the Victorian era was regulated with women wearing dresses and the bride white with a veil. These dresses ranged in styles, covering the bride modestly all over and often with a trailing tail in her wake. However simple., dresses were adorned with white embroidered flowers or pins.
Their hair was kept long and treated similarly to how they wore it outside their wedding. Various hairstyles included braiding, the apollo loop, and curled by the end of the century.
A man would wear a tuxedo or tailcoated suit to his wedding in a favourable black color. This would be complemented with a top hat if he was wealthy and black trousers and shoes. Underneath the layers was a waistcoat that would express some color or be standard white. Bow ties were a popular accessory by the end of the century but were not exclusively worn.
Men's facial hair evolved drastically at the start of this era as before me were clean-shaven, but suddenly it became trendy for men to show their ‘manliness’ with chin fur. So, quickly, men started to grow bushy chins in various styles, some wild, some tamed with curling moustache wax, some goatees, and some chops.
Men’s hair stayed short with minimal change over time as most favoured the short back and sides for ease of care. Those with length tamed it like their beards with wax and combs.
What is a Suitable Victorian Wedding Venue?
If you’re seeking a Victorian-themed wedding, you must embrace the clothes and location. This could be a rented estate in the countryside or a victorian mansion in the heart of a city, but to indeed go as lavish as the elites, you will have to dream big!
You will need to allow large spaces for staging grand events before, during and after the main ceremony. In addition, there will need to be outdoor spaces to allow people to roam, dance, and enjoy tea parties if it is a nice day.
You could get married outside in a grand garden like Versailles and then take the party indoors to a lavish ‘hall of mirrors’ styled dining hall, with plenty of galleries to dance and allow your single attendees to date and find romance. Just think, you could have your own Jane Austin moment!
If the venue already has naturally beautiful decorations for the in-door areas, you should not do much to take away from what was given to you. However, for the furnishings and decoration, you should consider how ‘upper-class’ as a Victorian wedding you want to go.
If you have an extensive guest list dressed as Victorians, you should consider going the extra mile to ensure everyone feels more immersed in the sense they have just stepped back in time.
You could have a party rule for everyone to leave their technology at the door, use candles instead of lights, and have a painter present for drawing key moments of the evening. Of course, you can still have a photographer, but minimising outside influences will allow the magic of the past to shine genuinely.
What are some Victorian Wedding Traditions?
There were many kooky wedding traditions in this era, and if you want to implement some of them, you can create a real talking point for guests or something to remember.
Victorian weddings often had three types of cakes: One fruit cake for guests, one light cake for the bride, and one dark cake for the groom. The dividing of the guest's cake was seen as the pinnacle moment of the wedding ceremony, and the couple would change for the honeymoon. Interestingly, the bride’s cake was not eaten but stored until their 25th wedding anniversary.
There was virtually zero physical contact between the bride and groom before the wedding, as such an intimate gesture was only allowed between a married couple. So when they first kiss it, it's often on the aisle on their wedding day.
Famous Victorian Weddings: Queen Victoria and Albert
A significant event that defined the way Victorians did weddings was Queen Q's wedding to Prince Albert. She wore a stunning white dress with white flowers around the skirt, a veil and a crown of even more… flowers! Appearing smitten at the altar to her husband-to-be, a blushing red-checked bride, she was the standard brides aspired to be.
Before Victoria, most brides wore colorful dresses, but she created a new standard for how weddings were performed in her country, and it quickly caught on around the rest of the world. She further popularized the ‘walking down the aisle’, which has become the most iconic part of any wedding today.
The Victorian Wedding Ceremony
Most, if not all, Victorian weddings took place at a church or holy altar. However, wealthy estates had private priests and worshipping spaces so they could stay at home whilst also finding the approval of their union under God. As a result, the ceremony is similar to how a traditional church wedding is performed today.
Wedding Decorations and Flowers!
We have touched on the fact that flowers were essential to any Victorian wedding. But flowers and weddings were nothing new then, as traditions associated with bouquets started way back in the Roman era. But why were flowers so important, and what did they symbolize?
Queen Victoria wore orange blossoms on her wedding day, representing purity and virtue. Albert gifted her a brooch of this same blossom as an engagement present months beforehand, so it was almost a deeply intertwined symbol of their love and union.
It was common to wear flowers as tiaras or brooches. Those that went further would adorn their wedding venues with flowers snaked around columns, hanging across flat surfaces and creating a fresh aroma of the outside indoors.
A Victorian wedding reception was extravagant, and whether you were lower class or wealthy, one of the crucial moments in the day was to share a hearty meal with guests. The food consisted of English tea, bubbles, delicate cakes, meats of every variety, and terrific greens. This is set up like a buffet to ensure you can try everything and not leave starving.
The food would be staged around a dancehall, and dancing with good music was just as essential as a ring or well-cooked food! The music on display would be played by a live band and even by the end of the decade from an early music player. With a choice of music from classics like Beethoven and Chopin, the whole reception became alive!
Victorian Wedding Rings
If you want a proper Victorian wedding, your rings should also fit the theme! Queen Vic had a ring designed by her husband in the form of a serpent with inlaid rubies, diamonds, and emeralds.
Her reign brought about a new age in wedding bands as new technologies made it easier for more people to have beautifully crafted silver and golden wedding bands. The popular styles included sleek bands with large sparkling gems. We at Thorum similarly have rings you should check out.
You could have your own modern-day Victorian wedding band:
- The Old Fashioned | Whiskey Barrel Wedding Ring | Thorum
- Cubic Zirconia | CZ Diamond Rings | Thorum
- The Victoria | Pavé Zirconia Ring | Thorum
- The King | Black Diamond Wedding Ring | Thorum
A Victorian wedding can be fun, and it is not entirely crazy. You can dress up in period costume and play the part of Lizi Bennet as you marry your Mr Darcy, or you can just celebrate the regal dresses and how a corset can bring in your curves. It will be an event sure to be remembered by guests and couples alike.
You might also like: