From Diane’s Antique Book Collection
A visit to the Etiquette instructor . . . 19th Century COURTSHIP AND MARRIAGE – Part 4
The Relations of an Engaged Couple. Neither should assume a masterful or jealous attitude toward the other. They are neither of them to be shut up away from the rest of the world, but must mingle in society after marriage nearly the same as before, and take the same delight in friendship. The fact that they have confessed their love to each other ought to be deemed a sufficient guarantee of faithfulness; for the rest let there be trust and confidence.
Demonstrations of Affection. It may be well to hint that a lady should not be too demonstrative of her affection during the days of her engagement. There is always the chance of a slip ‘twixt the cup and the lip; and overt demonstrations of love are not pleasant to remember by a young lady if the man to whom they are given by any chance fails to become her husband.
An honorable man will never tempt his future bride to any such demonstration. He will always maintain a respectful and decorous demeanor toward her.
Keeping Late Hours. Very few young men comprehend the real pain and inconvenience they occasion to the lady of their choice when they keep her up to untoward hours, and subject her, in consequence, to the ridicule and censure of others.
It is not inappropriate to sometimes leave an engaged couple by themselves, but that they should always be so left, under all circumstances and no matter at what inconvenience to others, is as absurd as it is indelicate.
A Domineering Lover. No lover will assume a domineering attitude over his future wife. If he does so, she will do well to escape from his thrall before she becomes his wife in reality. A domineering lover will be certain to be still more domineering as a husband; and from all such the prayer of wise women is, “Good Lord, deliver us!”
Breaking an Engagement. “Sometimes it is necessary to break off an engagement. Many circumstances will justify this. Indeed, anything which may occur or be discovered which shall promise to render the marriage an unsuitable or unhappy one is and should be accepted as justification for such a rupture. Still breaking an engagement is always a serious and distressing thing, and ought not to be contemplated without absolute and just reasons.
Whichever is the acting party in the matter must necessarily feel his or her position one of great delicacy and embarrassment. The step must be taken firmly yet gently, and everything done to soften the blow to the other party.
Breaking an Engagement by Letter. Such a letter should be acknowledged in a dignified manner, and no efforts should be made or measures be taken to change the decision of the writer unless it is manifest that he or she is greatly mistaken in his or her premises. A similar return of letters, portraits and gifts should be made.”
The Marriage Ceremony. The marriage ceremony varies with the fortunes and wishes of those interested.
In regard to the form of the rite, no specific directions are necessary; for those who are to be married by ministers, will study the form of their particular church – the Methodists their “Book of Discipline,” the Episcopalians their “Book of Common Prayer,” the Catholics their Ritual, etc., etc. In most cases a rehearsal of the ceremony is made in private, that the pair may the more perfectly understand the necessary forms. If the parties are to be wedded by a magistrate, the ceremony is almost nominal – it is a mere repetition of a vow. The Catholic and Episcopal forms have the most ceremony, and doubtless are the most impressive, though no more effectually marrying than the simplest form.
General Rules. There are, however, some generally received rules which govern this momentous and interesting occasion, and to these we refer all interested.
When the wedding is not strictly in private, it is customary for bridesmaids and groomsmen to be chosen to assist in the duties of the occasion.
The bridesmaids should be younger than the bride, their dresses should be conformed to hers; they should not be any more expensive, though they are permitted more ornament. They are generally chosen of light, graceful material; flowers are the principal decoration.
The bride’s dress is marked by simplicity. But few jewels or ornaments should be worn, and those should be the gift of the bridegroom or parents. A veil and garland are the distinguishing features of the dress.
The bridesmaids assist in dressing the bride, receiving the company, etc.; and, at the time of the ceremony, stand at her left side, the first bridesmaid holding the bouquet and gloves.
The groomsmen receive the clergyman, present him to the couple to be married, and support the bridegroom upon the right, during the ceremony.
Wells, A. M., Richard A., MANNERS, CULTURE AND DRESS, Massachusetts, King, Richardson & Company Publishers, 1893