Sudbury Living Weddings After Dark takes place Jan. 18 at the Caruso Club.
Prince Harry will wed Meghan Markle on May 19 at St. George Chapel at Windsor Castle. This wedding, like all royal weddings, will set a course for wedding trends.
Harry’s grandmother’s great-great grandmother Queen Victoria was the original trend setter.
In October 1839, 20-year-old Queen Victoria proposed to Prince Albert of Saxe Coburg. At first she was not in favour of an arranged marriage, but after she met Albert, she fell in love.
Although Victoria would always play a large role in planning her children’s weddings, the strong-willed monarch was very much in charge regarding her own wedding plans. Instead of wearing a gold or silver dress like other royal brides, she choose a white silk and satin dress. The court train was made with a tumbling board of orange blossom embroidery, a traditional symbol of betrothal and affection. By selecting a dress of handmade Honiton lace and Spitalfields silk, the young queen was supporting (and promoting) local manufactures. The lace designs for the dress were destroyed to ensure the queen’s dress remained unique.
Prince Albert died in 1862 a few months before the wedding of his son, the future Edward VII, to Alexander of Denmark. Victoria insisted the wedding be a private affair, so it was held at Windsor Castle. The queen for black and observed the ceremony from a private box above the crowd.
Alexandra wore a fashionable satin grown trimmed with “chatelaines of orange blossom, myrtle and Honiton lace.
According to German custom, myrtle signifies affection and hopes for good fortune. Alexandra’s bouquet included a sprig of myrtle. The myrtle used in this and future royal wedding bouquets is believed to have been planted by Queen Victoria at Osborne House on the Isle of Wight. Some reports claim the myrtle was planted from the queen’s own wedding bouquet.
Catherine Middleton carried myrtle from Osborne House in her bouquet. As a nod to her new husband, her bouquet included sweet William blooms, a sign of gallantry, as well as lily-of-the-valley (happiness), hyacinth (love), and ivy (fidelity).
“Protocol dictates that for an occasion such as this, the bouquet will be all-white,” according to a British florist. Queen Victoria, who was married in February, had snowdrops, the late Queen Mother a bouquet of lily-of-the-valley and the Queen carried a bouquet of home-grown orchids.
For her wedding to Prince Charles, Camilla carried a bouquet of lily-of-the-valley and yellow, purple and white primroses with a sprig of myrtle.
All brides can be inspired by this lovely tradition. They can model their bouquets have their mother’s, or perhaps select flowers that were carried by their mother and grandmothers.
George, the Duke of York married Mary of Teck in July 1883. Mary had been engaged to George’s older brother, Albert, the Prince of Wales. When Albert caught influenza and died, Victoria encouraged her George to marry her goddaughter, Mary.
They are said to have been very much in love. The couple was married at St. James Palace where the chapel was decorated with red and white flowers. The bride’s dress was white with silver brocade with a pattern of clustered roses, thistles, shamrocks and trails of orange blossoms.
After proceeding to Buckingham Palace, Victoria encouraged the newlyweds to make an appearance on the front balcony before the delighted crowd, and this has become a much-loved custom.
George V was king for 26 years. During the First World War, the royal family, changed its name from Saxe-Coburg and Gotha to Windsor.
George V and Queen Mary’s second son, Albert, married Elizabeth Bowes Lyon on April 26, 1923. Because of an interesting turn in history, the couple became the future king and queen and are parents of the current queen, and great-grandparents of William.
Elizabeth wore an ivory chiffon and lace gown in a modern “unstructured” style, but she also kept traditions. Her veil was lent to her by Queen Mary.
The Scottish bride carried a mixture of roses and heather, a floral icon of Scotland. The flowers symbolized the union of England and Scotland at the wedding. She started a tradition of her own by laying her bouquet at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier from the Great War. She left the flowers in memory of her brother Fergus who was killed in 1915. This simple gesture helped Elizabeth, later the Queen Mum, capture the hearts of her countrymen.
Royal brides since Elizabeth have had their bouquets sent to Westminster Abbey as a tribute to fallen heroes after the official wedding pictures of the bride and groom have been taken.
The Empire held its breath waiting for news about the wife of Albert’s brother Edward who became king in 1936. His choice for a wife, Wallis Simpson, a divorcee, was not considered appropriate for the head of the Church of England. He abdicated, and his brother, Albert became George VI.
As the world emerged from the Second World War, the eldest daughter of the King of England, Elizabeth announced her marriage to Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten. He was a member of the exiled Greek royal family, a member of the Danish-German House of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg. Like Elizabeth, he is great-great grandchild of Queen Victoria. He was educated in Germany, England and Scotland and joined the British Royal Navy at the age of 18 in 1939. He renounced his claim to Danish and Greek titles when he married and he became a British subject. In 1952, his wife gave him the title of Prince of the United Kingdom.
Elizabeth and Philip were married Nov. 20, 1947. The wedding procession was broadcast live on television for the first time. Radio reports were carried around the world in 42 languages.
More than 2,000 guests attended the wedding. The ceremony was held at Westminster Abbey.
The bride’s beautiful gown was made of ivory duchess satin and decorated with around 10,000 white pearls imported from America, silver thread and tulle embroidery. Her bridal ensemble also included a 15-foot patterned full court train attached at the shoulders, and a silk tulle veil held in place by a tiara lent to the princess by her mother. On her feet, she wore duchess satin high heels, embellished with silver and pearls.
Catherine and William followed many traditions set down by their families. The bride borrowed a tiara belonging to the queen.
Catherine’s ring was fashioned from a piece of Welsh gold that was given to Prince William by his grandmother shortly after the engagement was announced. The ring was made by Wartski. the jeweler who made the Welsh gold wedding rings for Charles and Camilla.
Some couples may be inspired by Kate and William’s decision to ask invited guests to make charitable donations instead of purchasing wedding gifts. This is certainly a noble decision on the part of the royal newlyweds. But while the young royal probably didn’t need new pots and pans, china and tableware, most couples do.
We loved the dress but…
Despite universal approval of Catherine’s choice of gown, imitations of the Sarah Burton number have not been popping up in churches here or across the pond.
Her elegant and modest dress resembled the dress Grace Kelly wore when she married into royalty in 1956.
“Women don’t want to copy others who have walked down the aisle before them,” designer Gregory Nato said. “A modern bride is creating an original event for herself. She’s bringing her personality into it.”
Catherine’s simple style, and in particular, the blue silk jersey Issa dress she wore at the announcement of her engagement have caused a sensation. The blue dress has attracted many imitators, the style is said to flatter all figures.
When Diana married in 1981, brides around the world were eager for large puffed sleeves, a full skirt and “soft touch fabrics.” Copies by other dressmakers were available “within hours” of the wedding.
Even after the style became dated, many considered Diana’s dress the “gold standard” in wedding dresses.