With the royal wedding in full swing, I’ve been looking at wedding-related publishing in Edwardian times. It seems that nothing much has changed …
Then, as now, weddings attracted dreamy idealists. Harrison Fisher, author of “The Greatest moments in a girl’s life” certainly chose the idealist version of marriage, as in this illustration entitled “The wedding”.
I took a dislike to Fisher at first because his idea of the first ‘great moment in a girl’s life’ was a proposal of marriage! The idea of waiting for someone to come along and propose before your life could start sounds old-fashioned even for 1911. However, in real life Fisher was a surprisingly down-to-earth sort of chap who never married but settled down to live with his secretary without any of the spectacular wedding ceremonies he painted.
The other type of wedding-related publishing was the “guide to wedding etiquette”. These books tend to be far more businesslike. The etiquette of marriage adopts a brisk approach from the start: “marriage is a binding legal contract between two individuals, and both should observe such principles as would guide two cautious people entering into a business partnership”. There is an entire chapter on how to break an engagement, much advice on saving money (brown horses to draw the carriage are cheaper than grey, apparently) and a solemn warning that a wedding “entails a vast amount of fatigue on all concerned”. In contrast “The etiquette of engagement and marriage” is cheerfully encouraging about preparing for a wedding “All women love shopping. Surely no expedition can be so delightful as going to buy wedding clothes with a well-stocked purse!” The wedding itself ought to be enjoyed even by the participants – “Weeping brides are out of date” – and any crises managed with a sense of humour.