A Regency Wedding Plan

PPWeddingHappy Tuesday, everyone!  Though I almost forgot what day it was, since I am trying to finish a book due (gulp!) next Monday, and I have a cold.  But I also have some happy news!  Yesterday we saw Risky Diane’s Regency wedding gown, and I am currently planning a wedding of my own.  The gown I picked isn’t particularly Regency-esque, but since we are thinking of a smallish wedding at my parents’ house, the wedding itself might be….

In the Regency, marriage itself was, of course, a Big Deal (especially for the bride!), the wedding wasn’t.  There were no wedding planners or Vera Wang salons, no Wedding Industry to tell you if you don’t have ice swans and 3 cakes you are doing it wrong.  Most weddings were small, private, family affairs, taking place in the parish church of one or both of the parties, before noon, after the reading of the banns.  (Hence the “wedding breakfast,” where there would probably be some kind of cake, and which could actually go on all day if everyone was so inclined…)

“I publish the Banns of marriage between [Groom's Name] of [his local parish] and [Bride's Name] of [her local parish]. If any of you know cause or just impediment why these two persons should not be joined together in Holy matrimony, ye are to declare it. This is the first [second, third] time of asking.”

There were some white wedding gowns, of course, since white was all the rage for young ladies, and most brides wore their best gowns (or bought a new gown, which then became their best), but it wasn’t the most common color.  We can thank Queen Victoria for that.  There might be a small veil, or a nice bonnet (perhaps with a veil attached), or a wreath of flowers, a small bouquet, maybe an attendant or two.  There might or might not have been an engagement ring, probably not diamonds.

CharlotteGownThere were exceptions to this, of course.  Princess Charlotte had a rather more splashy affair when she married Prince Leopold, and it was the subject of much interest at the time.  Some people eloped to Gretna Green in Scotland, where the laws were more lenient.

Her dress was silver lama [lamé] on net, over a silver tissue slip, embroidered at the bottom with silver lama in shells and flowers. Body and sleeves to correspond, elegantly trimmed with point Brussels lace. The manteau was of silver tissue lined with white satin, with a border of embroidery to answer that on the dress, and fastened in front with a splendid diamond ornament. Such was the bridal dress … (from La Belle Assemblee, of the royal wedding gown)

A Common or Ordinary License could be obtained for about 10 shillings from any bishop or archbishop, which would allow the marriage to go forward without calling the banns.  All other requirements were in place, though (parish church, before noon, etc).  A Special License, so common in romance novels, were expensive (4 or 5 pounds approximately), and had to be obtained from the Archbishop of Canterbury, but it would allow the wedding at any time or place convenient.

Here is a look at my own ring!  (He knows what a big Princess Di/Duchess of Cambridge fan I am…)

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And one of the dresses I tried on!  (though this is not THE dress…)

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What was your own wedding like??  How would you plan a Regency wedding?

About Amanda McCabe/Laurel McKee

Writer (as Amanda McCabe, Laurel McKee, Amanda Carmack), history geek, yoga enthusiast, pet owner!
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4 Responses to A Regency Wedding Plan

  1. patty says:

    I made my dress, which was ivory dress weight silk with white lace from the sweetheart neckline the the base of my neck, net sleeves, and embroidered lace flowers and pearls at the edges. The cuffs were a very wide (8″) lace, the bodice was lined with satin and tapered to a point in front. The skirt was basically an a-line with a little added, and a chapel length train. There were (I guess, are. It’s in a chest downstairs) 3 double rows of gathered lace around the base. And a little circlet of silk flowers to hold my veil, which I made slightly longer than the train, from white illusion with a picot lace around the edge. I also added several semi-circles of pearls at the end, and a bunch or white embroidered butterflies around here and there. We had a very small wedding at the local church (used by several denominations). Then went to my parent’s ranch and ate and drank the rest of the day. A good time was had by all…

  2. My wedding was a simple church wedding, though my gown was spectacular. A friend owned the largest private costume collection in the state, so as her wedding gift to me, she loaned me her most expensive wedding gown for my photos.

    My entire wedding cost about $800 (granted, this was nearly twenty years ago). My BIL’s wedding last year came in at over $30K–far too ridiculous a sum. My bet is the debt will outlast the marriage.

    As for the Regency, weddings may have been low-key, but the real splash-out was on funerals! They could send a family into some serious debt.

  3. Those gowns sound fabulous!!!

  4. Elena Greene says:

    So happy for you, Amanda! And that is one gorgeous ring.

    Alas, I married in the 80s and hadn’t really figured out my personal style, so I had big hair and shoulder pads. That I might do over if I could but everything else felt right.

    Since Rich and I come from different religious backgrounds, we decided to be married by a Unitarian Universalist minister–a lovely man whose serenity and kindness helped to harmonize things with our families. Eventually we joined the local UU congregation.

    The reception has been described as “a great party”. Just what we wanted. Favorite wines from Finger Lakes Wineries, and a live band with a sax player who could really improvise.

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