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Tag Archives: Weddings

How is everyone doing this week??  I am closing in on the February 15th deadline, slowly but (hopefully) surely, and looking at summer clothes on shopping websites as I fantasize about sundress and sandal weather coming back again.  (Surely it has to be somewhere in the not too distant future??).  I’ve also been following the fascinating news about the discovery and identification of Richard III’s skeleton under a Leicester carpark (that was once the Greyfriars church).  So amazing.

And I finally got some of the professional photos from my Dec. 15th wedding!


It made me wonder what sort of historical wedding portraits I could find.  I discovered things like Arthur Davis’s Mr and Mrs Atherton, ca. 1743 (it was originally thought to have been painted for their wedding a decade earlier, but was then given the later date):


There was Gainsborough’s portrait of Mr. and Mrs. Andrews (and more importantly, their grand estate!):


There was Reynolds’s depiction of the marriage of George III:


Queen Victoria’s wedding:


Van Eyck’s Arnolfini Marriage:


And the famous image of Anne of Cleves by Holbein that enticed Henry VIII into marrying her–until he met her in person, then he “liked her not!”  (I don’t know–I think she looks pretty enough):


And then there is this lady, Antoine Vestier’s Portrait of a Lady With a Book.  I imagine she is thinking about throwing that book at her husband if he says One More annoying thing…


What is your favorite wedding portrait????

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So my big news this week is–I am engaged!!!  No plans are set in stone yet, but we’re thinking something small in December, so something with a “winter wonderland” sort of theme.  White flowers, sparkles, maybe a fur stole, stuff like that.  (He says I just have to tell him when and where to show up and what to wear, the rest is up to me.  I hope he will not rue those words).

If you have read any of my Risky posts in the past, you probably know what my #1 concern is–the dress.  There are so many inspirations out there, I think it will be hard to narrow it all down!  There are Georgian gowns:

Victorian gowns:

Regency gowns (like these belonging to Princess Charlotte and Betsey Bonaparte):

1920s gowns:

1950s gowns:

Royal gowns (including American royalty like Jackie Kennedy!):

And modern gowns I can’t afford, like this Oscar de la Renta:

I will choose one soon, I’m sure (mainly because there isn’t much time to waffle!), and in the meantime I am pinning these on my Pinterest boards.

What did you wear at your wedding?  What suggestions do you have for me??  (and watch for historical info on rings, bouquets, cakes, etc in the near future…)

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Happy Tuesday, everyone!  Our first order of the day–a winner.  Christina Hollis, you are the winner of the guidebook to Kedleston Hall, the inspiration for our Castonbury Park series.  Please send us your mailing info at Riskies AT…

The second order of the day–weddings!  Again!  This weekend I attended the wedding of my oldest friend (we’ve known each other since we were freshmen in high school), and I had a fabulous time.  It seems to be weddings all the time around here right now.  I have now chosen a dress (the style is a secret for now though, since you never know who might look at his blog…) and a place for the wedding (Santa Fe in December).  Now all I have to do is find a moment between working towards TWO deadlines and wasting time watching the Olympics all the time (seriously–I was watching archery at 2 in the morning last night) to figure out everything else.

All this wedding business made me wonder about the history of the engagement ring.  Here are a few tidbits I found while doing some research:

1) The ancient Egyptians and Romans had some form of wedding/betrothal rings.  The Egyptians were a single twisted wire of silver or gold, and they were the first to believe the ring should be worn on the 4th finger of the left hand because supposedly a vein led from there to the heart.  (Many mummies have been found wearing these rings).  The Romans often had a small carved key on their wedding rings–a modern-day romantic might think it is meant to be “the key to the heart” but in reality it probably signified unlocking wealth, or ownership.  Wealthy Roman wives might have two rings, a gold one for special/going out days and an iron one for everyday.

2) The first known diamond engagement ring was exchanged between Archduke Maximilian of Austria and Mary of Burgundy in 1477. (for the rest of us they took a few hundred years to catch on).  One of the smallest diamond engagement rings on record was exchanged in 1518 between the Dauphin of France and Princess Mary of England.  The bride was 2 years old.  It didn’t work out.

3) In the Renaissance, “Posie” (promise) rings were popular, gold or silver bands engraved with verses exhorting the beloved to “remember me”.  (I have a copy of such a ring that was found in the excavation of the Rose Theater.  I always imagine the girl who lost it must have been very upset.  Or maybe they had a fight and she threw it away).  I read a legend that says in Puritan communities the brides were given a thimble (since rings would be vanity), but they ended up cutting off the tops and wearing the bands as rings anyway.

4) Rubies were very popular in the 18th century.  The Victorians, with their love of all things sentimental, loved DEAREST rings (bands set with a diamond, emerald, amethyst, etc).  Serpents were also considered good luck; Queen Victoria had a ring with this motif.

5) In 1867, diamond mines were discovered in South Africa.  In 1886, Tiffany introduced the “Tiffany setting,” a 6-pring ring that showed off the stone by raising it up off the band.  Diamonds really started to take off for engagement rings in the 1920s and ’30s, when places like Sears started carrying them.

6) In 1946, men’s wedding bands became trendy when Humphrey Bogart wore one after his marriage to Lauren Bacall.

In modern times, of course, the choice is endless!

What kind of ring do you like best?  Which historical wedding would you like to jump in the time machine and attend??  Whose ring would you steal?

Lately I have been thinking about many things wedding (as well as many things deadline and many things revision-y).  My favorites so far have been dresses (of course!), and, since I have a terrible sweet tooth, cake.  I think I want to go for something chocolate, or at least white with chocolate filling, but haven’t made up my mind yet.  So today I decided to take a quick look at some cakes of the past.

In ancient Rome, a barley cake was broken by the groom over the bride’s head for good luck.  (Like so many other wedding things we do and don’t know why–it’s for luck).  In medieval times, there was something called a “bride’s pye” (one recipe of which calls for cockscombs, lam testicles, sweetbreads, oysters, and–thankfully–spices).  The traditional French wedding cake is a croquembouche, sort of like glazed profiteroles glued together with spun sugar) is said to come from another medieval tradition where the bride and groom had to kiss over a large pile of cakes.  Why?  Luck!!  (or superstition–much like the tradition of bridesmaids taking a piece of cake home to put under their pillow so they will dream of their own future husbands.  This sounds very messy to me)

Like so many wedding things, cakes became more elaborate in the Victorian era.  Sugar had become more plentiful and affordable, and after Victoria had a white wedding cake, white icing became known as “royal icing.”  In Carol Wilson’s article “Wedding Cake: A Slice of History” she says that elaborate whorls and decorations of icing and fresh flowers and columns were “a status symbol, a display of family wealth.”  (I tried to link to this, but it doesn’t appear to be available any longer).  I think this notion is still valid, considering how expensive cakes have become.  I have friends who have spent over $1000 for a cake; a new trend is having a cake made of styrofoam, with the guests served discreetly from a cheaper sheet cake.  (my own wedding is very small, so I probably won’t need to resort to quite this level of subterfuge…)

The queen’s daughter Princess Louise (the one who married a “commoner”) had a piece of her wedding cake sold at an antiques fair a few years ago for $215.  A bargain compared to the piece from the 1937 wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, which sold for $29,000.

The English traditional cake is a plum or fruit cake (which I think Will and Kate had at their wedding…), in the US we consider a white cake traditional.   When Elizabeth II married in 1947, her cake weighed 500 pounds; Princess Diana’s cake, encrusted with marzipan Windsor coats of arms, was 5 feet tall.  (I wonder if they served sheet cake on the sly??)

These are a few I am thinking about:

(The ones with pink roses look like my parents’ cake 40 years ago, so I was going to try and reproduce it for my own wedding…)

What is your favorite kind of cake??  What is the best cake you ever had at a wedding?

Posted in Frivolity, Research | Tagged , | 7 Replies

So, what am I doing this week??  Finishing up the first in my Elizabethan mystery series (hopefully out next year from NAL! I also have a new pseudonym–Amanda Carmack…). Enjoying the fall weather.  Planning my Halloween costume.  And realizing that my wedding is only about nine weeks away!

In very timely fashion, one of my favorite blogs, The Order of Sartorial Splendor (which documents royal fashions and is tons of fun) is having a countdown of readers’ favorite royal wedding gowns.  So far they are only at #9, since #10 was a two-way tie, and I am really looking forward to seeing what’s on the list.  (I do love #9, Lady Sarah Chatto!  Her mother, Princess Margaret, had my #1 favorite royal wedding look of all)

My own wedding will be considerably less grand than a royal affair, but hopefully it will still be elegant and romantic!  I have my dress, my shoes, my veil (my mom’s veil, which she wore at her wedding 40 years ago!), music planned, dinner menu set.  I’m most excited about the venue, the historic Loretto Chapel in Santa Fe.  It was built in 1873 by an order of French nuns for their girls’ school.  The architect, Antoine Mouly from Paris, had worked on a recent renovation of the amazingly gorgeous St. Chapelle (I mean it–if you have not seen this place, put it on your bucket list asap!) and suggested they model the chapel after that church.  The stone was quarried from around Santa Fe, but the stained glass windows came all the way from Paris, to New Orleans via ship, barge to St. Louis, then wagon to Santa Fe.  It has a beautiful, elaborate Gothic altar and lovely statues, but its most distinctive feature is the Miraculous Staircase.  (You can see its history on their website, which has lots of nice pics as well)

I love the history and beauty of this place, and it’s so special to me since I’ve been visiting it since I was a child and we lived in New Mexico.  I came up with several wedding ideas, but in the end this was the only one for me!  Since Westminster Abbey didn’t work out…  (plus my dress will look great there, LOL)

See more about St. Chapelle here

Where did you get married?  If you could do it again, would it be someplace different?  Where is your “dream wedding” location??

Posted in Frivolity | Tagged | 6 Replies
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