Since I’m deep in the throes of planning our daughter’s wedding in October, I’ve been thinking a whole lot about vwc6641800s-wedding-gown.jpghow weddings have changed over the years.  I can’t imagine planning this wedding without the help of the trusted Bride’s book, Modern Bride Magazine among others and the Internet. How else would I find the photo galleries of recommended photographers?   How else could I view new cake creations and floral bouquets?   And how  in the world could I help my daughter find the “perfect” wedding gown?

I can tell you, I’m almost an expert now, having gone to 8 bridal salons in one weekend.  I now know the difference between a mermaid dress, a ballroom dress, an A-line gown and a Cinderella gown.   Oh … it was fun, but exhausting.   The personal attention and gorgeous dressing rooms were great on the surface and surely seeing my baby, Nikki, dressed in full veil and delicate Swaroski crystal tiara brought tears of joy to my eyes until I realized, heavens … I’m paying for the fancy three-mirror private dressing room with tea and coffee served and very attentive  wedding gown consultant … all in the price of the gown.  I wonder if they made such a hoopla over the wedding dress back in the Old West?

alc122vintage-1880s-gown.jpgHere’s a cream colored 1880’s wedding gown, made with ruching (gatherings) encircling the neckline and 12 bones in the bodice.  The back is tied with wide moire ribbon.  This dress is considered an A-line, made with delicate fabrics which flow freely and a slight bustle in the back.

 This is a 2008 blue Maggie Sattero Estella dress made of satin and lace.  It’s whj1168maggie-sattero-wedding-gown-2008.jpgat’s known as a ballroom wedding gown. See the ruching in the bodice?  Certainly a more sophisticated look, but there’s a slight bustle in the back as well.    I’ll let you in on a secret, picture this in ivory white and it’s my daughter’s wedding gown!  Do you like it?


This is a mermaid dress contouring to the bride’s shape and curves.



In the time of pre-arranged marriages, the wedding veil was invented to keep would-be grooms from running far and long when they caught sight of their homely bride!  (Hopefully today the groom knows what he’s getting)

Women in the West tended to marry at a later age than thought, the grooms in their late twenties and the brides a few years younger. Many engaged in pre-marital sex and would marry when with child, months or weeks prior to delivering baby. (Hmm … no comment)

In the early 1800’s many married in their homes, though later in the century church weddings became vogue.  (Today anything goes, like marriages while parachuting out of a plane or undersea nuptials in full scuba gear which lend new meaning to destination weddings!)

Usually planning for a wedding took from one to two weeks, enough time to make sure friends and family received their invitations.   (Today you could plan a wedding in one week, IF YOU WANTED TO GO CRAZY!  Customary time is 6 months to one year)

In the west, the wedding cake of choice was a fruit cake.  

Today … we have three or four tiers with different flavors of cake for each tier. Flowers of the season help make the cake a work of art!


What kinds of weddings do you love to read about?  Is there one wedding scene that stands out in your mind?  And what was your wedding like?   Any special rituals or traditions that you’d like to share? 


Happy Trails and Happy Reading!

Taming the Texan – Harlequin Historical available NOW!


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34 thoughts on “WEDDING NUPTIALS … OLD AND NEW and You’re Invited!”

  1. What a gorgeous dress for your daughter, Charlene! I can just imagine what a beautiful wedding she’ll have. For the one big traditional wedding I was involved in, I had the good fortune to be the mother of the groom–best of all worlds! My daughter planned her own very un-traditional wedding.
    I’ve heard that in parts of the early West where women were scarce, it wasn’t unheard of for a widow to receive a proposal on the way home from the funeral-don’t know if that’s true or just a story. Anyway, congratulations on a happy event, and thanks for a great blog.

  2. Hi Elizabeth- Thank you for the compliment about the dress. My daughter does look like a princess in it. And I do believe that about the early west. Women often times rec’d proposals after the funeral. I can’t imagine! Except to say that life was hard for women without a man in those days.
    Congratulations to you too on being mother of the groom. It’s all fun and nerve-wracking at the same time!

  3. Charlene, that is one gorgeous dress! My daughter (who’s many years from getting married) said, “Ooh, Mommy, I like that lady’s dress!” Congrats on your daughter’s wedding–what an exciting milestone! I can’t imagine getting there yet!

  4. Once when my daughters were really young we were in our small hometown and a limo pulled out from the City Hall with the bride and groom standing up waving from the open sunroof. My third daughter, probably 8-years-old at the time said in this awestruck voice: I want one of those at my wedding.

    Well, a chill of fear went down my spine. I’ve got four daughters. The cost of all of them getting married, getting the limo, all the frills. Horrifying!!!!!!!

    We’ve had two weddings now, including ‘limo-girl’ and the bells and whistles were all in attendence. There just seems to be no escape!
    But they were beautiful weddings. And, since no one would just slap me in a padded cell and let me sit it out, I survived.

    Two more to go.

    You can’t believe the money my husband has offered to buy an elopement, serious cash! And he means it.

    So far, no takers.

  5. Hi Fedora – It seems I blinked my eyes and my daughter grew up. She’s 25 and so sweet and we do love the man she’s marrying, so happiness all around. We searched high and low for this dress. It’s brand new, came out on the website first and it’s from the new spring 2008 collection. We almost had to drive 300 miles to find a “sample” to try on, but luckily we called 20 stores and finally found one in the neighboring city. Oh, when my daughter saw the dress, she just knew it was for her.

  6. Oh Mary — four daughters! I have one daughter and one son. So, we’re able to provide a very nice wedding for her. You’ve been through two weddings already. Any tips or suggestions how to not let the anxiety get to you? Sometimes I go to bed at night thinking, I’m forgetting something important and go over everything in my head. Mind you, the wedding is 7 months away! Good thing I’m busy with deadlines- it helps keep me sane.
    The horse-drawn carriage sounds lovely! I’d always wanted to do that.

  7. Hi Charlene! Thought I’d drop in on you ladies because it’s been a while. Been busy writing. What else? :o)

    The first time I married, I eloped. The second time around, hubby and I got married outside in my aunt and uncle’s yard. It was lovely. All the family was there, both his and mine. After cake and punch, and tossing the bouquet, we all changed into jeans and tees and had a huge volleyball game. Nearly everyone played, even the elderly uncles. It was hilarious. We had a wonderful, and memorable, day. :o)

  8. Charlene, what a gorgeous dress your daughter chose!! I love it. It’s romantic and sentimental and just perfect for a beautiful bride. She has excellent taste. I’m sure it costs a fortune though. I hate to think about paying for one like that. I’m thrilled for you though. Your to-be son-in-law sounds like a very good catch.

    I had two weddings. One was an elopement and the other was before the Justice of the Peace. We didn’t have much money at the time. And it was no big deal. I didn’t really want a big fancy wedding. And were just as married, which was what counted.

    When it comes to reading about weddings, I like the big traditional church scenes with pomp and circumstance. They’re so romantic. But, there’s also something very touching in the wedding where the bride is wearing her best Sunday dress and the groom is in a clean shirt and worn pants. They pledge their lives to each other in a simple ceremony, holding hands.

    When my mother and father married during the Depression, my mom had to borrow a pair of shoes from a woman acquaintance because she didn’t own a pair. And my dad wore overalls. That still brings tears to my eyes.

    Great topic, Charlene! Just keep your ducks in a row and you’ll do fine. Everything will fall into place. You’ll see. 🙂

  9. You know so many of these really old marriages have a World War II angle.(with my parents it was the Korean War) They got married after knowing each other two weeks, or they got married in a whirlwind during a two week leave.

    So many of those marriage lasted. I always think that, seeing your husband go off to war, leaving you behind, gave both the husband and wife this profound, life and death perspective on what was really important. All the little irritations of life just didn’t throw them as hard after a beginning like that.

  10. Hi Charlene,

    I had no idea Nikki was engaged! Congratulations. That dress must look amazing on her. Your blog brought back lots of wedding prep memories. What an exciting time. I hope it all goes off without a hitch.


  11. hi Charlene, Nikki is gonna look amazing!!! It’s interesting how styles change over the years. I loved the info on the 1880’s gowns.

    When my daughter was about nine, she caught a glimpse of my wedding dress in the attic, wrinkled her nose and said, “eew, I don’t have to wear that when I get married, do I?” Even though it was 80 degrees that August day 1974, the style was a high Victorian neck and LONG sleeves. Oh well…my favorite memory of the day was my daddy walking me down the aisle…sadly he died just three years later.

    When our son got married four years ago in Malibu, hubby and I got to host it. Yay! My lovely DIL even invited me to go along to help pick her dress. And I still have a daughter to go!

    Actually, I’ve been planning her wedding since the day she was born. Yeah, right. She’s very strong-willed LOL.

    Thanks for a fun post, Charlene.

  12. Devon –
    What a great wedding story to hand down to your grandchildren! Sounds like a good deal of fun, changing clothes and getting everyone involved to play volleyball. Those are some really great memories!

  13. Hi Linda — It’s fun hearing wedding stories from all of you. I love wedding scenes from the old west too. My parents got married during WWII and when my father was on two day leave, so hearing of your parents’ wedding does touch a sentimental note. Thanks for the compliment on Nikki’s dress. She’s thrilled with it.

  14. Hi Tanya – I remember going thru all your wedding doings with you and now you’re doing it with me. Funny story about what your daughter said about your wedding dress. Mine wasn’t preserved correctly and it yellowed very badly, but you know, Nikki wouldn’t have wanted to wear it anyway. She definitely has her own style!

  15. It’s a gorgeous gown. My daughter is getting married in July and we just picked out her dress and a historical hotel with a gazebo for the wedding and reception. She lives 5 hours away so planning is hard but she’s coming in again this weekend for meetings for flowers, photos, cake and dj! One of the gowns she tried on that was my favorite was an aline but just way too heavy for July (she’s size 2). But the one she picked was lovely with a small train and more form fitting. Fun and games lol.

  16. Hi Jeanne – Congratulations on your daughter’s wedding! Yours will be here before you know it. It’s so much planning, months and months for 6 hours of fun! The hotel and gazebo sound lovely. You’ll have to share all the fun details afterwards!

  17. Honey and I will celebrate 47 years of marriage in
    April and we paid for most of our wedding. I made
    my wedding dress and the dresses for two of my sisters, who were among my bridesmaids. Back then, we did things like that and were able to make the wedding more personal and individual.
    I am Hispanic and we incorporated a couple of rituals from the Hispanic wedding into our ceremony. In one, a “lasso” (rope) made of ribbons is laid about the shoulders of the
    kneeling couple, symbolizing the joining of the couple. In another, the groom presents the
    bride with a small basket of coins, which shows
    that he is giving to her all of his material
    possessions. I must tell you that it has been
    a grand time and we are looking forward to our
    50th anniversary celebration!!

    Pat Cochran

  18. Hi Patricia – Those are some really wonderful rituals. I’m really into traditions and doing symbolic gestures in the ceremony. My daughter, not so much. Her friend who is getting married in August is doing a sharing of the sand ceremony. Each come to the altar with a different color sand, then the pour their sand into another vase of sand, blending the colors as they blend their lives together. In our day, we did candle lighting, two becomes one, but the ceremony will be held outside in the canyons of Malibu and they don’t allow open candles due to fire hazard. But they will write and speak their own voes.

  19. I am planning an 1880’s wedding for my fiance and myself. I am looking for photos of 1880’s RANCH weddings. We are not at all interested in weddings in town as we have a 5000 acre cattle and horse ranch with magnificent views where we plan on getting married. The guests are mostly ranchers and we have asked that they bring their horses and buggies or wagons to help us. I am looking for any photos of RANCH weddings from the 1880’s to make sure that our wedding will be as accurate as we can make it for an 1880 Guest ranch in the GReat Basin part of Northwestern Nevada.

    Old Yella Dog Ranch & Cattle Co.

  20. I have a question. I’ve been looking all over to find out where the white dress (underneath your daughter’s dress) came from. Do you happen to know?
    Thank you!
    Charlotte, NC

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