From Diane’s Antique Book Collection
A visit to the Etiquette instructor . . . 19th Century COURTSHIP AND MARRIAGE
Part 5 - Final Installment
Congratulations after the Ceremony. If it is an evening wedding, at home immediately after “these twain are made one,” the are congratulated: first by the relatives, then by the friends, receiving the good wishes of all; after which, they are at liberty to leave their formal position, and mingle with the company. The dresses, supper, etc., are usually more festive and gay than for a morning wedding and reception, where the friends stop for a few moments only, to congratulate the newly-married pair, taste the cake and wine and hurry away.
Ceremony in Church. When the ceremony is performed in church, the bride enters at the left, with her father, mother, and bridesmaids; or, at all events, with a bridesmaid. The groom enters at the right, followed by his attendants. The parents stand behind, the attendants at either side.
The bride should be certain that her glove is readily removable; the groom, that the ring is where he can find it, to avoid delay and embarrassment.
Marriage-fees. A rich man may give to the officiating clergyman any sum from five dollars to five hundred, according as his liberality dictates. A person of moderate means may give from five dollars to twenty.
Let Joy be Unconfined. On such festive occasions, all appear in their best attire, and assume their best manners. Peculiarities that pertain to past days, or have been unwarily adopted, should be guarded against; mysteries concerning knives, forks, and plates, or throwing “an old shoe” after the bride, are highly reprehensible, and have long been exploded. Such practices may seem immaterial, but they are not so. Stranger guests often meet at a wedding breakfast; and the good breeding of the family may be somewhat compromised by neglect in small things.
The Wedding Breakfast. If the lady appears at breakfast, which is certainly desirable, she occupies, with her husband, the center of the table, and sits by his side – her father and mother taking the top and bottom, and showing all honor to their guests. When the cake has been cut, and every one is helped – when, too, the health of the bride and bridegroom has been drunk, and every compliment and kind wish has been duly proffered and acknowledged – the bride, attended by her friends, withdraws; and when ready for her departure the newly-married couple start off on their wedding journey, generally about two or three o’clock, and the rest of the company shortly afterward take their leave.
Sending Cards. In some circles it is customary to send cards almost immediately to friends and relations, mentioning at what time and hour the newly-married couple expect to be called upon. Some little inconvenience occasionally attends this custom, as young people may wish to extend their wedding tour beyond the time first mentioned, or, if they go abroad, delays may unavoidably occur. It is therefore better to postpone sending cards, for a short time at least.
Wedding Cards. Fashions change continually with regard to wedding cards. A few years since they were highly ornamented, and fantastically tied together; now silver-edged cards are fashionable; but, unquestionably, the plainer and more unostentatious a wedding card, the more becoming and appropriate it will be.
No one to whom a wedding card has not been sent ought to call upon a newly-married couple.
Calling on a Newly-Married Couple. When the days named for seeing company arrive, remember to be punctual. Call, if possible, the first day, but neither before nor after the appointed hour. Wedding-cake and wine are handed round, of which every one partakes, and each expresses some kindly wish for the happiness of the newly-married couple.
A Joyous Period. Taking possession of their home by young people is always a joyous period. The depressing influence of a wedding breakfast, where often the hearts of many are sad, is not felt, and every one looks forward to years of prosperity and happiness.
Professional Call while Receiving Calls. If the gentleman is in a profession, and it happens that he cannot await the arrival of such as call according to invitation on the wedding-card, an apology must be made, and if possible, an old friend of the family should represent him. A bride must on no account receive her visitors without a mother, or sister, or some friend being present, not even if her husband is at home. This is imperative. To do otherwise is to disregard the usages of society.
Returning Wedding Visits. Wedding visits must be returned during the course of a few days, and parties are generally made for the newly-married couple, which they are expected to return. This does not, however, necessarily entail much visiting; neither is it expected from young people, whose resources may be somewhat limited, or when the husband has to make his way in the world.
Wells, A. M., Richard A., MANNERS, CULTURE AND DRESS, Massachusetts, King, Richardson & Company Publishers, 1893