In a romance, the end goal is of course a happily ever after, and possibly a wedding. We have all seen that wonderful scene in the Colin Firth Pride and Predjudice of the villagers throwing petals and the groom throwing coins, so I thought I would talk a little bit about weddings during the period.
Weddings during the Regency did not tend to be the huge affairs that we think of today, or that became more prevalent during the Victorian era, but they were important nonetheless.
One big question is, did brides wear white?
In the various groups to which I belong, we hear over and over again that brides did not wear white. But I think what we really mean is that white was not considered "the right thing" or mandatory. A colored dress did not signify lack of chasteness, it was simply a personal preference. That said, it seems that white was the color of choice for many as can be seen from the following examples.
We also know that Jane Austen's niece Anna, who married Benjamin Lefroy on November 8, 1814, wore "a dress of fine white muslin, and over it a soft silk shawl, white shot with primrose, with embossed white-satin flowers, and very handsome fringe, and on her head a small cap to match, trimmed with lace.
When Jerome Bonaparte (Napoleon's brother) wed the fashionable American beauty Elizabeth Patterson on Christmas Eve 1803 the bride wore a dress of thin white muslin and lace
In my experience, English fashion journals are rather silent on wedding dresses during the Regency era, and often brides of all levels of society wore a dress they already owned or purchased for the occasion and probably wore again.
This is a rare print from 'Ackermann's Repository' for June 1816 of a wedding dress in white satin with an overdress in striped gauze and trimmed with Brussels lace. It was to be worn with pearl jewelry, white satin slippers and white kid gloves but notice, there is no veil. It wasn't until the 1820's that we begin to see all the hoopla about specially designed wedding dresses.
Another thing that plagues writers is the issue of banns and licenses. Banns had to be called in both parish churches of the couple. They had to be read by the vicar on three consecutive Sundays before the wedding. There were two types of licenses. A standard license if couples did not want banns called or to wait for the
fortnight, they could apply to the local bishop or his representative for a standard license. This only eliminated the need for banns. The couple still had to marry in parish church between 8 and noon. There was a seven day wait. A special license obtained only from the office of the archbishop of Canterbury at Doctor's commons in London. One had to swear to the truth of the information and pay five pounds . This allowed the couple to marry anywhere and at any hour a clergyman could be found to officiate.