Victorian Wedding Engagement Etiquette


Wedding Engagement

 

 

"It is the privilege of the bride to name the wedding day ... after the wedding invitations are issued she does not appear in public."

 

When young persons have decided to marry, a proper gentleman will take the first opportunity to acquaint the girl's father with their hopes, and, making a frank statement of his affairs and prospects, formally ask his consent to their marriage. If consent is refused, patience and good conduct will usually win over even the most obstinate parent.

Traditionally there are no formal announcements of a betrothal but it is customary, however, for the father of the bride to give a dinner and announce the wedding engagement. The guests at a dinner given to announce a wedding engagement are relatives or very intimate friends of the engaged couple. At the end of the repast the father rises, lifts his glass of wine and drinks to the health of his son, mentioning the name of the young man his daughter is to marry. Each guest bows to the son, at the same time lifting a wine glass. The engagement ring is presented when the wedding engagement is announced — or at least it is then openly worn, its choice depending upon the taste and means of the giver. The engaged man is congratulated, but one wishes the girl all happiness. After the ladies have left the dining room the gentlemen devote a short time to general congratulations and cigars.

 

Wedding Engagement
Wedding Engagement

 

To announce the wedding engagement the young couple should write personal notes to their respective relatives and near friends, mailing the notes so that all may be received at the same time.  These acquaintances will then pass on the pleasant news to the world at large. The notes often mention one or more afternoons when the young woman will be at home to receive her friends informally with her mother. The groom's friends also take this opportunity of making her acquaintance.

Wedding EngagementAt news of a betrothal, friends hasten to extend invitations for various festivities to the happy pair such as receptions, dinners or theater parties. It is the custom for the relatives and intimate friends of a bride-elect to give her a gift when she announces her wedding engagement. At one time it was the fashion for intimate friends to send to the fiancé engagement presents in the shape of teacups. A cup of tea was popularly supposed to be one of the consolations of spinsterhood. A teacup would therefore be an invidious gift until after the wedding engagement, when its significance would cease to apply.

At this time it is customary for the families interested to exchange hospitalities. The young man’s family should assure his intended bride of a welcome into their circle. The mother of the groom should invite both the family of the expectant bride and herself to a dinner as soon as possible after the formal announcement of the wedding engagement. The two families should meet and make friendships at once. It is also essential for the bride to be very attentive and conciliatory to all her husband's friends; it is in the worst taste for her to show indifference to them.

As for the engagement ring, it is in best taste when it contains only a solitaire stone -- either a diamond or a colored stone such as a ruby, emerald or sapphire, which may range in price from two hundred and fifty to two thousand dollars. Colored stones and diamonds, set diagonally are also worn; but not a pearl, as, according to the German idea, "pearls are tears for a bride." The initials of each of the contracting parties and the date of the wedding engagement are usually engraved in the engagement ring. The ring should be worn upon the same finger as the wedding ring, the third finger of the left hand, where subsequently the wedding ring serves it as a guard. The matter of presentation is a secret between the engaged pair.

Wedding EngagementThe wedding engagement is one of the most charming experiences of a girl’s life, and she is wise not to let it be cut too short. The length of an wedding engagement must depend mostly upon outward circumstances. It is only a journey, of which the end must come sooner or later.

It is the privilege of the bride to name the wedding day, and of her father and mother to pay for her trousseau. After the wedding invitations are issued she does not appear in public.

As for the conduct of the betrothed pair during their wedding engagement, no young lady is allowed to drive alone with her fiancé -- there must be a servant in attendance. No young lady must visit the family of her fiancé, unless he has a mother to receive her. Nor is she allowed to go to the theatre alone with him, or to travel under his escort, to stop at the same hotel, or to relax one of those rigid rules which a severe chaperon would enforce.

Wedding EngagementThe position of a woman is so delicate, the relations of engaged people so uncertain, that careful attention to appearances is in the best taste. It is therefore wisely ordered by etiquette that the groom be allowed to pay for nothing that could not be returned to him without loss if the engagement were dissolved, even on the wedding morning. The lady could return her ring and the gifts her fiancé has made her; but she could not return shoes or gowns or bonnets.

It is the privilege of the bride to name the wedding day, and of her father and mother to pay for her trousseau. After the wedding invitations are issued she does not appear in public.