Antique Victorian weddings: Tips, bridal dresses & more from the 1800s

Bride from 1896 - Antique wedding dress

Note: This article may feature affiliate links, and purchases made may earn us a commission at no extra cost to you. Find out more here.

Facebook
Pinterest
Twitter
LinkedIn
Reddit
Email
Vintage wedding dress fashions from 1846

Vintage wedding dress fashions from 1846


19th-century Victorian wedding dresses (1850)

19th century Victorian wedding dresses (1850)


Bride from the 1800s

Bride from the 1800s


The Diamond Wedding at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, October 13, 1859

The Diamond Wedding at St. Patrick's Cathedral, October 13, 1859


Antique wedding gown from 1860

Antique wedding gown from 1860


Wedding from 1860

Wedding from 1860


Antique bridal gowns from 1868

Antique bridal gowns from 1868


Victorian wedding dress from 1870

Victorian wedding dress from 1870


Antique wedding scene from 1881

Antique wedding scene from 1881


Victorian wedding dress (1883)

Victorian wedding dress (1883)


Wedding Bells Ring to-day sheet music (1891)

Wedding Bells Ring to-day sheet music (1891)


19th-century wedding dress (1892)

19th century wedding dress (1892)


Bride on the cover of Harper’s Bazar magazine (1880)

Bride on the cover of Harper's Bazar magazine (1880)


Bride at the church (1881)

Bride at the church (1881)

MORE: Old-fashioned bridal shower ideas for party decor, food & more


Wedding ceremony on the cover of Harper’s Bazar magazine (1881)

Wedding ceremony on the cover of Harper's Bazar magazine (1881)


Brides on the cover of Harper’s Bazar magazine (1881)

Brides on the cover of Harper's Bazar magazine (1881)


Wedding toilette (outfit) for the bride from 1882

Wedding toilette - outfit - for the bride from 1882


A sewing machine as a Victorian-era wedding gift (1882)

A sewing machine as a Victorian-era wedding gift (1882)


Brides on the cover of Harper’s Bazar magazine (1887)

Brides on the cover of Harper's Bazar magazine (1887)


Bride and friends – Antique illustration from Peterson’s Magazine (1888)

Bride and attendants - Antique illustration from Peterson's Magazine (1888)


A Victorian wedding dress on the cover of Harper’s Bazar (1891)

A Victorian wedding dress on the cover of Harper's Bazar (1891)


Getting ready for a Victorian wedding: Church decor & flowers (1893)

The Salt Lake Herald (Utah) April 23, 1893

The very latest fashions and follies in vogue

“Happy is the bride that the sun shines on!” But those brides that have chosen these spring days, and those who will wed in June when days are brightest and longest, have violated fashion’s decree.

Guess, ye unfashionable, which month it is that New York, in its perversity, has chosen to be the most fashionable for weddings? November!

The most fashionable day is Thursday. The hours chosen are high noon or 4 pm. The 4 o’clock wedding has almost superseded the evening ceremony.

MORE: 71 old wedding superstitions, traditions & marriage myths that range from sweet to silly to sad

Vintage church wedding - Marriage ceremony with bride and groom (4)

Church decorations for Victorian weddings

The usual church decorations are with potted plants, mostly palms, set about the chancel and on the steps leading to the altar.

These and bouquets on the altar are all that aroused for a simple wedding. But where more display is desired, the chancel rail is twined with smilax and flowers, and a bouquet is fastened in the bow of the ribbon which is used to divide the aisle, or a garland of flowers is twined along with the entire ribbon.

Vintage church wedding - Marriage ceremony with bride and groom (2)

Laurel is sometimes employed both for chancel decoration and for the pillars, but this is too heavy and somber except at Christmas, and requires to be relieved with an abundance of flowers.

The custom of having flowers strewn before the bride is not popular, but when it is done they should be scattered by the little maid of honor from the very door of the carriage to the steps of the altar. It is a custom more beautiful in theory than in practice, for the bride’s train is apt to sweep them along and thereby become disarranged — not to mention the possibility of the foot turning by stepping upon a round rosebud.

Vintage church wedding - Marriage ceremony with bride and groom (3)

The bride’s flowers

Real orange blossoms are another adjunct of weddings which do not materialize in accordance with sentiment and tradition. They are fragile flowers which are apt to be ruined in transit and to fall before it is time to lay them aside.

The bridal bouquet must be white. This is imperative. Where orchids are used, the faintest tinge of color may be admitted, but the aim should be to have the bouquet entirely white.

ALSO SEE: 17 wedding flower arrangements & bouquets (1916)

Orchids should never be put with roses — their proper setting is Lilies of the Valley. A bouquet of these flowers costs from $40 to $75, and is the gift of the groom, as are the bridesmaids’ bouquets, which are made as far as possible to harmonize with their dress.

White carnations are used for favors for the heads of the horses which draw the brides carriage, and her coachman wears a white bouquet in his buttonhole.

Vintage church wedding - Marriage ceremony with bride and groom (5)

MORE: These 16 photos offer a rare peek at how extravagantly Victorian churches were decorated for Christmas


Wedding etiquette: An old-fashioned bridal procession (1893)

The groom drives directly to the church where he and his best man wait in the vestry until the arrival of the bride is announced. Her carriage is the last to leave her house, and she is accompanied by her father or the one who is to give her away.

The wedding party, with the exception of the groom and his best man, assemble in the waiting rooms at the entrance to the church where the procession is formed. It does not start till the clergyman has entered the chancel and the groom and his best man following have taken their places at the clergyman’s left.

The marriage of TRH the Duke and Duchess of York, 6 July 1893
The marriage of TRH the Duke and Duchess of York, 6 July 1893

The ushers, two and two, walk first, followed by the bridesmaids, two and two, the maid of honor walking by herself after the bridesmaids and immediately in front of the bride. If there be pages, they follow the bride, sometimes holding her train.

It is now customary for the party to halt as they reach the lowest step to the altar and for the groom to come down take the bride by her hand and lead her to her place. The ushers file to the left, the bridesmaids to the right, and the father stands directly behind the bride.

The wedding party in the church

The procession approaching the altar / At the altar / Leaving the altar

1893 Wedding procession etiquette tips

The wedding ceremony

An old English custom which has been introduced at several weddings of late, though not, we believe, at the Heavenly Rest, as it is thought to savor of ritualism is for the groom to meet the bride and for them to remain on the platform above the lowest step.

The clergyman leaves the chancel and begins the service, reading as far as the end of the betrothal when he returns to the chancel, the party follow, and the ceremony is completed in the customary place.

In approaching the altar, the bride and groom kneel for a moment, and the other members of the party remain standing but with heads bowed. The same form is observed during the prayers incident to the ceremony.

The best man takes charge of the ring. and gives it to the groom at the right moment.

In leaving the chancel, the bride and groom pass first, and the order of the procession is thus reversed; the best man walks with the father immediately after the bridesmaids, and the ushers pass down last of all.

MORE: The etiquette of marriage: The ceremony & after (1850)


Antique 1890s wedding dress style (1895)

Antique 1890s wedding dress style (1895)


Victorian wedding celebration from 1895

Victorian wedding from 1895


The hall’s decor for the Grinnell-Catherwood wedding at San Francisco’s Presidio (1896)

From The San Francisco Call (California) October 6, 1896

Nothing that might add to the imposing and magnificent effect of the affair had been omitted. Assembly Hall, by the aid of pennants and snowy blossoms, was transformed into a veritable bower of beauty.

No bizarre effects had been aimed at in the adornment of the ball. Cordons of smilax fell in graceful loops from chandelier to chandelier and draped the walls, caught up at intervals with bunches of long-stemmed white chrysanthemums.

There were flags everywhere. They formed the background of the improvised altar and a glorious arched canopy over head the entire length of the hall. The ensemble formed a stirring picture, as effective as it was beautiful.

Wedding bells at San Francisco's Presidio (1896)

The wedding gifts

The bridal presents were unusually numerous and gorgeous in the extreme. There was crystal galore, exquisite silver and gold ornaments studded with precious stones.

  • Mrs Huntington sent a magnificent diamond sunburst, the stones of unusual size and purity.
  • Mrs Stanford’s gift to her namesake was a set of seven exquisite pieces of silver, a fruit dish, two cake plates and four bonbonieres. The pieces were of an unusually handsome design of silver lacework, now so fashionable.
  • Mrs Alice Rutherford presented the bride with a gold mesh purse, on the square gold lid of which was set an immense amethyst.
  • Mr Fred Webster sent a crystal decanter with gold rim, studded with amethysts.
  • Mrs S M Wilson’s gift was a ruby glass and silver vase.
  • Mrs Henry Crocker’s present was an exquisite vase of Tiffany glass.
  • Mrs Irvine and Callaghan Byrne sent a pair of elegant bronzes.
  • Miss Alice Boggs’ gift was a Sevres vase.
  • Mrs Peter Donahue and Mrs Martin sent a crystal and silver salad set.
  • Mrs Claus Spreckels presented the bride with some exquisite silver.
  • A unique present was the gift of Miss Lillian Young. It was a belt made of the skin of a rattlesnake that had been killed by Colonel Young.
  • Mrs Colonel J D Fry sent a historical point-lace handkerchief.
  • Thomas Madden’s gift was a butterfly brooch of diamonds, sapphires and rubies.
  • Mrs La Montague, sister of the bride, sent a sapphire and diamond heart.
  • Major Darling presented his step-daughter with an elegant piece of bronze.

There were many other gifts, all equally beautiful and costly.


June Bride from 1896 – Antique wedding dress on Comfort magazine

June Bride from 1896 - Antique wedding dress on Comfort magazine


Wedding dress fashion from 1898

Wedding dress fashion 1898


Very old-fashioned wedding and traveling dresses from the 1800s

Very old-fashioned wedding and traveling dresses from the 1800s


5 old wedding gowns from 1899

5 old wedding gowns from 1899


Antique wedding dress from 1899 – Seen from the back

Antique wedding dress from 1899 - Seen from the back


Big wedding – A huge church bridal procession from the late Victorian era (1899)

Big wedding - A huge church bridal procession from the late Victorian era (1899)


Antique Victorian bride in her wedding dress on the cover of Ladies’ Home Journal (November 1900)

Antique Victorian bride in her wedding dress on the cover of Ladies' Home Journal (November 1900)


The American girl as a bride (1900)

The American girl as a bride (1900)


View of the church for the Whitney-Paget wedding in 1898

View of the church for the Whitney-Paget wedding in 1898


Bride’s table decorations – Whitney-Paget wedding in 1898

Bride's table decorations - Whitney-Paget wedding in 1898


Wedding and reception outfits for the bride (1898)

Wedding and reception outfits for the bride (1898)


Old church wedding ceremony from 1900

Old church wedding ceremony from 1900

NOW SEE THIS: The most beautiful vintage wedding dresses from the early 1900s

PS: If you liked this article, please share it! You can also get our free newsletter, follow us on Facebook & Pinterest. Thanks for visiting and for supporting a small business! 🤩 

Facebook
Pinterest
Twitter
LinkedIn
Reddit
Email

You might also like...

The fun never ends:

Comments on this story

Leave a comment here!

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

See some of our books!