Brides of the West: Something Old, Something New

That’s the theme for the upcoming Love Inspired Historical spring wedding anthology, Brides of the West.  It won’t be out until April, but my author copies arrived in a nice big box. Time for a giveaway!  Leave a comment and I’ll toss your name in the Stetson–a white one to honor weddings.  Sometime tonight I’ll pull out two names and post the winners.

I’m delighted to be sharing the antho with two wonderful LIH authors, Janet Dean and Pamela Nissen.

Here’s our back cover copy:

Josie’s Wedding Dress by Victoria Bylin

Desperate for someone to help her save her ranch, Josie Bright makes a deal with Ty Donner. Now the man who left her waiting at the altar is making her hope for things she had long stopped wishing for.

Last Minute Bride by Janet Dean

Elise Langley was stung to the quick when her would-be suitor suddenly left town. But when David Wellman returns and they are thrown together organizing their friends’ wedding, can she open her heart again.

Her Ideal Husband by Pamela Nissen

As a girl, Lydia Townsend hoped to marry Jebediah Gentry–until his rejection spoiled her dreams. When family duty brings her home, it’s Jeb’s chance to show Lydia that now is the time for wedding dreams to come true.

Now here’s an excerpt from Josie’s Wedding Dress. It’s taken from the middle of the first scene. We’re in a church cemetery and in Ty’s point of view as he faces the woman he left at the altar…


The buggy halted, then creaked as the female climbed down. With his neck bent, Ty listened to the squeak of the gate as she opened it. He tried to follow her movements, but the grass muted her steps. He listened for the rustle of her skirt but heard nothing. Frozen and alert, he thought of the years he’d waited in a prison cell. He’d learned to be patient. He could be patient now. He wouldn’t budge until the woman went on her way. He thought of the graves he’d seen. Was she visiting the small one that belonged to a child? A newer one with a name he didn’t recognize?

A rose-like fragrance drifted on the air, becoming stronger as the woman approached. Josie liked fancy soaps. She also liked roses. A soft gasp confirmed his deepest fear. This woman knew him. This woman was Josie.

“Ty? is that you?”

He turned enough to see the hem of her skirt. It took him back to the day before the wedding and the banter about “something borrowed, something blue.” She’d whispered in his ear about a blue garter, and he’d loved her more than ever. Now he looked up slowly, taking in the hard line of her mouth. Gone was the cheerful girl who’d teased him with mischievous smiles. In her place he saw a woman burdened by life. Her eyes were still turquoise and her chestnut hair gleamed under a straw bonnet, but she’d lost her sparkle.

Ty had come home for this very moment, yet he felt unprepared as he matched her gaze. Instead of the words he’d practiced, he stared into her eyes, feasting on the past until he found his tongue. “Hello, Josie,” he said in a drawl. “I’m hoping we can talk.”

 Don’t forget to leave a comment to be eligible for the drawing.  For fun, let’s share our favorite wedding memories.  What made you smile or laugh?  Or do you tear up like I do?  My favorite part of any wedding is when the bride and groom exchange their vows.    

On Being a MOB…

…Mother Of the Bride that is.  On Saturday (two days ago when this post goes live) my oldest daughter got married.  She is the first of my four children to take this step and it was a very emotional day for me.  In fact, I hope you’ll forgive this indulgence, but I’m still too wrapped up in the occasion to produce an intelligible post for you, so instead, I’ll let the following pictures do the talking for me.  

Oh, and because this is such a very special occasion, I’d like to share a little touch of  the joy I feel by offering one visitor today a choice of any of my books, currrent or back list.


Proud parents with bride. (As you can tell from my flushed face it was a HOT July afternoon)


Bride and bridesmaids - who just happen to be my other two lovely daughters
The bride and flower girl


The bride and groom (my handsome new son-in-law) cutting the cake
My husband and our two younger daughters


My son and his girlfriend


Me and my beautiful daughter near the end of the reception

Clothes To Get Hitched In


Last month I went with a friend to the Texas Tech Museum in Lubbock. The newspaper had advertised that they were displaying their extensive collection of old wedding dresses and I couldn’t wait to see them. They certainly didn’t disappoint. I learned that the museum keeps a ton of things in their basement and take pride in bringing them up to display for the public periodically.

Since they have so many wedding dresses, they only bring up a certain amount at a time.  Starting in August these on display now will go back to the basement and a whole new group will come up.  I think they said they have enough to last until June of 2012. Just think how many dresses comprise their collection. The ones I’m showing today were just a few of what my friend and I saw.

The first two were surprisingly made of plaid material. I’d never heard of plaid being used for wedding dresses so I was amazed. For those who don’t know……white wasn’t worn until Queen Victoria married Prince Albert. Prior to that, the dresses had to be functional since they were worn many many times after the wedding.

This one looks like it could’ve been worn by a prairie lady.

The dresses were in all colors. Here’s a bright red one that might’ve been worn in a winter wedding.

This one was Civil War era. Just imagine having to sew all these buttons on!

These last two that I’ll show you today came later toward the end of the 19th century or beginning of the 20th century. Notice that the last one is looking more like the wedding dress we know today.

Over time, some of these dresses became quite worn so the museum experts had to do some extensive renovation. They had a video showing the process of placing another piece of fabric underneath the worn place and carefully stitching it to the dress. I really enjoyed seeing what all goes on behind the scenes.

Dresses in this display were fashioned from fabrics of brocade, velvet, cotton, satin, and silk. The brocade ones looked very heavy and reminded us of the dress Scarlet O’Hara made from her deep emerald drapes.

Can you imagine getting married in dresses like these?


Wedding Memories

My youngest son is getting married on Saturday!  I couldn’t be happier for Dave and Whitney, my new daughter-in-law. It’s our second wedding in eight months. My oldest son and his wife tied the knot in October. In honor of both brides, I thought I’d talk about family wedding memories.

My husband and I had a whirlwind courtship back in 1980.  We’d been acquaintances in high school and later became friends. He rode up to my house on a big red motorcycle one evening, suggested a movie and off we went to see the first Star Trek movie.  Four months later we got married in a very small ceremony in my parents’ living room. I wasn’t the girl who always dreamed of a big wedding.  In fact, Mike and I planned to elope until my dad said, “I think your mother would like to see you get married.” 

Well, my mom said, “You’re getting married here? I thought you were eloping?” She liked the idea of eloping  just fine. It was my dad who wanted to see the big moment and he did.  Short and sweet. Family. A wedding breakfast, where I found out my husband of 45 minutes didn’t like quiche.  Thirty-one years later, we’re going strong and he hasn’t had quiche since.

My parents’ wedding in 1954 was much more traditional My mom wore a beautiful white dress with a sweetheart neckline, lots of lace and a veil. Her bridesmaids wore shades of aqua, ballerina length dresses and cute little hats. The best picture, I think, is “the kiss.”  No wonder my folks were together for 42 years!  A lot of love was there from the beginning. So was faith and a willingness to talk, talk, talk things through.

My mom’s wedding dress got worn again in 1993. When my brother and future sister-in-law got engaged, she had trouble finding just the right dress.  My mom’s gown fit her perfectly. Not only did she wear the dress, she and John got married on my parent’s 39th wedding anniversary. My oldest son was the ring bearer. He looked great in a tux! He looked even better on his own wedding day,which leads us to . . .

The most recent wedding is my oldest son and his wife.  Awesome day!  They got married at Woodlawn Plantation in Alexandria, Virginia.  String quartet. Delicious food. Lovely flowers. Gorgeous pictures. Best of all, family got to celebrate with them.

So those are my wedding memories. What are yours?  Of maybe you have a favorite wedding scene in a book?  I’d love to hear about them.

I’ll be in and out today . . . The wedding ramp-up is starting.  Can’t wait for Saturday!  P.S.  Sorry not to have family pictures . . . I don’t have the older ones on the computer, and the newer ones are on the old computer which isn’t here today.  They were on this computer until I had a virus a few months ago.  They’re safe, just not easily accessible.

Wedding Customs

Today just happens to be my wedding anniversary.  And it’s not just any old anniversary – it’s my 35th.  So in honor of that auspicious occasion, I thought I’d deviate from my usual western themed posts and instead discuss some fun/interesting notes on a few wedding customs.   And yes, the pictures posted are from my own wedding (Oh, and check out the gown – I made the dress myself and my sister made the train).

Also, because I believe there should ALWAYS be gifts to mark special milestones, I’m going to give three of today’s commenters their choice of any one of my backlist books.  So, on to the main post!


The most popular month for a wedding is still June.  But did you know how the practice originated?  There are several schools of thought on this. 
One line of thought – It is said that during the fifteenth century, May was the month set aside by the general population for the ‘annual bath’, which meant as a whole folks were still smelling relatively ‘fresh’ during June so it was a good time to hold a communal event.
Another theory is that the month of June was named after the Roman goddess Juno, the goddess of hearth and home, so getting married then was considered to bring her blessings.

Of course not all couples chose June.  One of the things I discovered when I was doing my research for this post was a little poem that predicted how the marriage would go based on the month you marry.   It goes like this:

Married when the year is new, he’ll be loving, kind and true;
When February birds do mate, you wed nor dread your fate;
If you wed when March winds blow, joy and sorrow both you’ll know;
Marry in April when you can, joy for Maiden and for Man;
Marry in the month of May, and you’ll surely rue the day;
Marry when June roses grow, over land and sea you will go;
Those who in July do wed, must labor for their daily bred;
Whoever wed in August be, many a change is sure to see;
Marry in September’s shrine, your living will be rich and fine;
If in October you do marry, love will come but riches tarry;
If you wed in bleak November, only joys will come, remember;
When December snows fall fast, marry and true love will last.

As a November bride, this was right on point for me. 🙂


The color of choice for the modern bride is, of course, white.  But this wasn’t always true.  In medieval times, wearing brightly colored wedding garments symbolized happiness.  Rich colors and expensive fabrics also said something about the brides status and finances.  White didn’t gain the prominence it holds today until 1840.  That’s the year when Queen Victoria married Prince Albert.  Deciding to ignore the royal tradition of wearing a silver gown, the young queen instead chose to wear white and thus set a precedent that stands to this day.

Interesting bit of trivia – white was not always considered the color of purity.  At one point in history, it was thought blue symbolized that virtue – possibly through association with the garments of the Virgin Mary.  White was thought instead to symbolize joy.

I stumbled across an old poem that predicts how a woman’s marriage will go based on the color of her wedding gown (there seems to be a rhyme for everything).  It goes like this:

Married in white, you will have chosen all right.
Married in grey , you will go far away.
Married in black, you will wish yourself back.
Married in red, you’ll wish yourself dead.
Married in blue, you will always be true.
Married in pearl, you’ll live in a whirl.
Married in green, ashamed to be seen,
Married in yellow, ashamed of the fellow.
Married in brown, you’ll live out of town.
Married in pink, your spirits will sink.



I was surprised to discover that the wedding cake has been around for centuries.  In ancient times, the Romans baked a cake of barley or wheat and broke it over the head of the bride as a symbol of her fertility.  During the middle ages there was a popular custom which involved the guests bringing sticky buns to the reception and stacking them in front of the bride and groom.  If the happy couple was able to kiss over the top of it without toppling it, it signified they would enjoy a long and happy marriage and be blessed with many children. Toward the end of the sixteenth century the bride’s cake or pie came into vogue.  These were mostly mince pies in which a glass ring had been inserted.  It was believed that the person who received the piece that contained the ring would enjoy a full year of uninterrupted happiness.  The origins of our current tiered wedding cake came in the seventeenth century when French bakers stacked buns and covered them with frosting.

The traditional cake cutting also has a bit of symbolism associated with it.  Symbolically it is the first task the bride and groom shares as a married couple.  Afterward, the bride and groom feed each other from that first slice as a symbol of their mutual commitment to provide for one another.

So, enough of the history and general traditions.  Do you have any special wedding traditions handed down in your own families?  Any special memories of your own weddings? 

And remember, three people who comment on this post will be selected to receive a copy of one of my backlist books.


a-pic-4I’ve blogged before about the various settlers in Texas: the Anglos, the Native tribes and the Tejanos, Texans of Mexican or Spanish descent. Today I want to share a scene from my book Her Abundant Joy, which will be released early in 2010. The Tejano Wedding from Her Abundant Joy, third book in my Texas Star of Destiny series, Three Generations, Three Historic Texas Events, 1821-1847.



“The women led Sugar (the bride) out of the house toward the white canopy where the ceremony would be held. Mariel hung back toward the rear of the procession. The priest from a nearby mission church had come and would give his blessing to the couple in this unorthodox open-air ceremony. Since there were still few Anglo churches in Texas, the families felt fortunate to have a man of God present.

To Mariel’s surprise, the two fathers would actually be the ones performing the wedding. Mrs. Quinn had said that this sort of “family” wedding was common on the frontier. Often so far from any town or any church, a wedding consisted of a man and woman declaring that they were husband and wife and writing of their union in a family Bible.

Such a contrast to the formality of marriages and church records in Germany. …

Everyone waited under the canopy, leaving an aisle open for the bride’s procession. Leading it was Erin as flower girl and young Carlos Falconer as the page at her side. Then came the damas or bridesmaids and the chamblanes or other groomsmen all in their wedding finery. At the front of the canopy waited a beaming Emilio with Scully Falconer as padrino and Carson as best man—both in black suits–at his side. …

Finally Sugar on her father’s arm reached Emilio (the groom) who wore a more Spanish-looking suit of brown. The madrino put something in Emilio’s hand that clinked.

In the back of the gathering standing beside Mariel was the man called Ash with his wife Reva who were as close as family to the Quinns.

a-picAsh leaned close to Mariel and murmured, “Emilio will give Sugar those thirteen gold reals later in the ceremony. The coins symbolize that he is trusting her with all his worldly goods.” Mariel nodded and smiled.

The priest began speaking in Latin, often making the sign of the cross and obviously praying for the couple. Then he stepped away, joining the wedding guests. The madrina placed one chain of flowers around both the bride’s and the groom’s necks.

Ash leaned over again. “This is el lazo, which symbolizes the love that has joined these two. They will wear it throughout the ceremony and then Sugar will wear it the rest of the day.”

…Mr. Quinn read out the marriage vows from a small black Book of Common Prayer and the bride and groom exchanged rings. Then Mr. Quinn said, “Emilio, you may kiss your bride.”

Spontaneous applause broke out. Mariel thought it very strange. No one had applauded at her wedding, least of all her. This seemed appropriate here. She joined in. Then after the formal kiss, she watched Emilio give Sugar the thirteen gold coins which Sugar placed in a box that she handed to her brother. Then the newly married couple turned to face the guests.

Mr. Quinn said, “These two have become one for life. Please greet Mr. and Mrs. Emilio Ramirez.” He repeated this in Spanish and there were shouts of joy and more applauding.

 Well, I hope that this gives you some idea of a Tejano wedding in 1846. I found the symbolism—el lazo, the 13 golden coins–especially touching. a-pic-2I have added an image of the traditional wedding cookies that would have been also served. What caught your interest?




Tanya Hanson: History and Romance, the perfect combo


 Well, there is something downright romantic about darling little birds flying in to California from Argentina on the same March day year after year to build their nests in the eaves of a jewel-like California mission. In the 1940’s, the hit song “When the Swallows Come Back to Capistrano” delighted radio listeners around the world. 

Truth is, the swallows have barely been seen at the San Juan Capistrano mission for years. Maybe it was all exaggeration. Or maybe the tiny birds got ticked off when work to preserve the mission started up ten years ago. Or…maybe their absence is just the tragic dearth of birdlife all over my fair state—the unhappy result of excessive building of houses and strip malls as far as one can see. Today, swallows are more likely to be seen building their mud nests on freeway overpasses even though mission-keepers try everything to lure them back to the grounds with ceramic nests and recorded bird songs.  

But there is definitely something romantic going on in San Juan Capistrano as you’ll soon see, after I enlighten (bore?) you with a few facts about the mission itself.

The founder of California’s mission system, Junipero Serra instructed Father Fermin Lasuen to found a mission between San Diego and San Gabriel, and Fermin did so in 1775. He named it for St. John of Capistrano, Italy. The local Indians, the Juaneno, were friendly and helped construct the buildings, church, and belltower. In its heyday, 1811, the mission grew 500,000 pounds of wheat, 303,000 pounds of corn, and had 14,000 cattle, as many sheep, and some 800 horses.


However, an earthquake in December 1812 destroyed the church and killed 40 natives; Pirate Hippolyte de Bouchard provided further destruction in 1818 when he raided the California coast. bouchard

(To be honest, I didn’t even know a blackguard buccaneer had raided my beloved home coast! Grrrrrrrrrrrr. Sounds like future blog material?)


In 1834, after Mexico won independence from Spain, the Mexican government ended the mission system and sold the land. Don Juan Forster became the owner of the mission in 1845, and the Forster family lived there for years.

When President Abraham Lincoln returned mission lands to the Catholic church in 1863, Mission San Juan Capistrano was in ruins, and Frank A. Forster, Don Juan’s grandson, lived in a small home on the site. In 1910, he decided to build an elegant mansion for his family.  And a good thing he did, for the Forster Mansion was the gorgeous site of our daughter’s wedding just eleven days ago.  forster-mansion-historic


The Forster Mansion was the first stucco-covered home in an area of adobe homes, and a historic wall of the mission still defines the property.The wall is the focal point against which a flower-bedecked arch is positioned during  wedding ceremonies. wedding-arbor-day-of


At a cost of about $10,000, Frank constructed a mansion of 6,000 square feet that soon became the hub of high society. Sadly, by 1983, the mansion was considered nothing more than a “tear down” until foresighted buyers restored it to its original elegance, making it one of the premiere event sites in this south Orange County area. And the mansion even has a ghost! Owners swear to cigar smoke, inter-changed portrait on walls…and the stub of  one of “George’s” cigars is enshrined under a glass dome in the parlor. Georg has been seen in moustache and khaki clothing and the bedroom upstairs credited to him has a “crack” in the wood door so he can keep an eye on things.

Today the mansion is listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Properties.  

I couldn’t have been happier with Christi’s choice of wedding venue, lover of history that I am. The fountain directly across from the historic wall is the starting point for processionals, including a ringbearer who did the job great even though he refused to wear his tux jacket. His shiny shoes, however, did make the cut. 


 To the artful music of a string quartet playing the same Bach air I marched up to 35 Augusts ago, my hubby escorted his daugher in a misty, poignant moment. With her cousins, her sisters-in-law, her brother, and her sorority sisters waiting for her at the altar, it was a family moment ever etched in my  heart.


 The bride wore her godmother’s garter and the sixpence from my wedding shoe.

 Later, the yellow Livestrong theme garnished with lemons graced the event.  livestrong-theme


And with beloved friends and family surrounding us,  a special pastor blessing us all, I know the newlyweds will have a HEA even better than anything I could pen.


Truly, a day to remember. History. Romance. Love. Family. Friendship.


Now, how about you? Have you ever visited a California mission? How about a historic church or cathedral, a shrine or otherwise sacred ground? To me, battlefields and cemeteries count! Let’s hear from ya today!


To order my latest release, click on the cover. Many thanks!

Tanya Hanson: Confessions of a MOBster*


*Mother of the Bride…seventeen days til my daughter’s wedding. 

christi-and-her-glam-glovesSince I can’t find anywhere that 17 is an unlucky number, I reckon I can regale you with wedding stuff again while I still have my nerves and my mind left. Most of my mind, that is.  And I need a chance to showcase the hit of my daughter’s recent bridal shower, the “glam gloves” sent by my filly friend Pam Crooks along with a signed copy of her latest book. I can still hear the shouts of delight bursting from the throats of sorority sisters, aunties and cousins…and even myself. You can see why! Those gloves are the cutest things ever! 

 Now for all you historians and romantics out there, here are a few more bridal tidbits to file.  

Bridal Shower.  This girly gathering owes its roots to a Dutch maiden three hundred years ago whose wealthy papa pooh-poohed her marital choice of a lowly miller. His refusal of a dowry had her friends and neighbors “shower” her with enough household goods to start life with her true


In the 1890’s, gifts for the bride were actually placed into a Japanese parasol which was later opened over her head. Hopefully there wasn’t a cast iron frying pan or meat cleaver knife in there.

 (This pic is my friends and me, lower right, at my July 1974 shower. Talk about a vintage photograph!)   

Bridesmaids. They got their start during the bride-stealing days of the Anglo-Saxons. The gaggle of lovelies usually dressed identical to the bride even to their veils to confuse marauders and act as decoys. Later, the flock of bridesmaids was believed to ward off evil spirits who might curse the happy couple. In Greece, rather than “maidens,” tradition had brides escorted by happily-married, fertile young women whose good fortune was supposed to rub off.  

 In the good ole days of bride-stealing and kidnapping, the groom of course had to surround himself with pals ready to assist in abducting his woman. Sometimes the “groomsmen” snatched brides of their own from the herd of bridesmaids. Romantic? Can’t decide if there’s a historical romance plot in there somewhere. WDYT?

27 Dresses. Just kidding. Christi only had six to alter after the somewhat dowdy hemline caused quite a stir of frenzy recently. Fortunately my amazing sister-in-law Roberta (Christi’s aunt and godmother) successfully converted the hems bubble-style. Christi has selected yellow to acknowledge our family’s devotion to Lance Armstrong’s Livestrong crusade against cancer, and as a tribute to her dad who beat testicular cancer last year. Walking her down the aisle is going to be particularly poignant.balloon-hem

 (This is Danielle, one of the bridesmaids. Her December 2008 wedding was postponed when a California wildfire burned down her family home last fall! Favors, invitations, everything but her dress was lost. Fortunately, no one was hurt and the house is being rebuilt. But…insurance delays and her dad’s recent health scare put things on hold until early 2010.  Fortunately, her dad found out he’s going to be okay. Praise God again!)

Something old, Something new. Something borrowed, something blue. Actually, most of us recite this without the last line.     …and a silver sixpence in her shoe. 

This tradition started up in Victorian times. The bride who wore/carried these good luck tokens could expect a happy marriage.

The sixpence, a silver coin minted in Britain from 1551-1967, symbolizes the hope for financial security. For optimum good fortune, it should be worn in the left shoe. With the sixpence out of production, a copper penny is okay to use…although keepsake sixpence can be found online. Fortunately, I brought a sixpence home from a college trip to England in 1972 and wore it in my wedding shoe thirty-five Augusts ago. I will pass on my lucky sixpence and its good fortune to my daughter! 

Something old symbolizes the bride’s family roots and past history. 

Something new is for hope and optimism for a happy future and her own history. 

Something borrowed is usually an item from a happily married friend or relative. It  reminds the bride that she has loved ones to depend on. 


Blue has been connected to weddings for centuries. Brides in ancient Rome wore the color to symbolize love, modesty, and fidelity, and Christians long associated the color with purity, as it is the standard garb for the Virgin Mary. Blue actually was a popular wedding gown color through the 1700’s.  “Marry in blue, lover be true.” 

Young Brides, Old Wives Tales.   

    1. If you find a spider on your wedding gown, you’ll come into money. 

    2. If you see a flock of birds, your marriage will be blessed with fertility. 

     3. If it snows on your wedding day, you’ll be wealthy.

     4. If the sun is out, you’ll be happy.

     5. If you marry as the hands of the clock move up (after the half hour), you’ll have good fortune.


    6. If you drop the ring during the ceremony, it’s best to start the whole thing over. 

    7. If you look in the mirror before walking down the aisle, you’ll leave a part of yourself behind. 

    8.  If you cry on your wedding day, especially before the kiss, you’ll prevent tears during the marriage. 

Well, as I leave you with these pearls of wisdom, I can positively say no snow will fall on Christi’s wedding day, but I can predict the location near the beach fill have plenty of sun. 

Somebody might drop the ring, but I doubt the coordinator will let us start the whole caboodle over.

Christi will most definitely be looking in a mirror! 


The wedding starts at 4:30…so I’m on board for the hands of the clock moving up, even if you wear a digital watch. (This antique clock was a wedding gift to my grandparents in 1917.)   

 Birds and spiders, okay. I’m a bit of a tree hugger. Just don’t poop on her dress.

  As for tears, I think they’re a given. I’ve already got handy an Irish linen hankie, a souvenir from my mom’s many travels. 

Please pass along today any pearls of wisdom, lore or old wives’ tales of your own, your hints and helps, past MOB memories, or anything you think I might start needing…on day 16.

To order my latest release, click on the cover.









Janet Tronstad and Debra Clopton Discuss Small Town Brides

small-town-brides Debra Clopton and Janet Tronstad are delighted to be guests here at P & P today.
We’re both western women and have a fondness for cowboys and their brides. In our June book, “Small-Town Brides,” we tell the story of two cousins who find love in tiny towns, one in Montana and one in Texas. When we first started these two novellas, we wondered how to tie them together and decided to create a wedding veil as a family treasure linking the two cousins together.
We are dealing with two heroines, two heroes, and two towns so we’re going to give away copies of our book to two people who make a comment today.
As we pictured this veil in our book, we thought about what it would mean to the brides in a family. It’s often a tradition for pieces of wedding finery to be passed down through the generations. Since the two cousins share the same bridal veil that their great-grandmother had used, we speculated that the older woman had been married in the early 1900’s. That meant her wedding veil probably would have been made out of silk tulle. Nylon net became the standard in the 1950s, but before that handmade lace was the only option.
We can only speculate about what the rest of her attire would have been like. We’re sure that she dressed herself as fashionably as possible though. Janet recently read an excerpt from an 1857 California trail diary that said, “There is a bride (who) wears hoops. We have read of hoops, but they had not reached Kansas before we left so these are the first we’ve seen.”
What bride doesn’t want to create a fashion stir?
Janet’s grandmother (who wed around the turn of the century) wore a white hat rimmed in flowers and carried a single rose. Her grandmother told Janet once that she married her grandfather because he was the best dancer for miles around. Do you know what your grandmother wore for her wedding? Does your family have anything like a veil or a ring that they pass down through the generations? We’d love to hear about it.
Click on cover to purchase Small Town Brides

Tanya Hanson: A Whiff of Wedding Flower History


Well, I’ve definitely got weddings on the brain these days, with our daughter Christi getting married soon, Pam Crook’s Kristi a brand-newlywed, Charlene Sands’ son recently engaged…and a mail-order bride book just released! In Marrying Minda, the heroine-bride’s favorite flower is the white rose, and her bridegroom ordered special the big bouquet of them she ended up tossing on his grave. So I figured bouquets and wedding flowers could use a bit of looking into.  


In The Little Big Book of Brides, I learned that a Victorian-era suitor used “the hidden language of flowers” to woo his intended. He might send peach blossoms to let her know “You are perfected loveliness” only to have her send him a posy of burdock ordering him to “Touch me not.” Burdock, pictured here, is a wild plant found in waste places and seldom worth cultivating.  


Hopefully, the lovely lady would send him ambrosia, signifying “love returned” if she received a bouquet of ranunculas, which told her “You are radiant with charm.” He might “think of her” if she sent back pansies…but daffodils meant, sadly, unrequited love.


Down the road a few months, her eventual bridal bouquet also held symbolism. Ivy stood for faithfulness and strength, since the vine is hard to uproot. Rosemary spoke of remembrance, the rose for love. Myrtle embodied love, peace and happiness. In fact, a bridesmaid was encouraged to plant a sprig of myrtle in front of the newly married couple’s first home. She’d marry within the year if it took root. 


The lovely hydrangea marked devotion, the clover, faithfulness, and the marigold, sensual passion. Thyme brought courage, the gardenia, joy; orchids, beauty and passion. Phlox insured united hearts, and the classic lily of the valley signified purity. Only available for a few weeks in May, this classic is definitely a luxury!   


In our case, the bride is selecting her flowers based on color (yellow, for Livestrong), but I think I can convince her to stick some rosemary in somewhere. It’s my favorite herb.


When Queen Victoria married her prince in 1840, she selected a wreath of orange blossoms, not the jeweled tiara expected of a royal bride, and the trend spread. When real orange blossoms were in short supply, wax replicas were made, and used over and over by other brides. The orange blossom symbolizes happiness, fertility and everlasting luck, and took its importance from Greek myth when  Hera received a garland of them to bless her marriage to Zeus. This “first” bridal flower made its way to Europe via the Crusaders.

A bridal bouquet tied with ribbons and knots symbolized the “tying the knot” tradition that likely stems from the handfasting ceremony of medieval Celtic couples. Their hands were bound together while they pledged their fidelity. But a bride’s handful of flowers has been a centerpiece of weddings for centuries.


In Britain’s early days, a bride was supposedly such a powerful source of good luck the guests took to tearing off her flowers, ribbons, even bits of her garments. So eventually, brides simply tossed their bouquets to protect themselves…hence starting a long-standing tradition. While long ago bridal bouquets definitely signified the sweetness of marriage, they were also thought to hold off sickness and, if built of herbs or grains, to protect against evil spirits.

Throughout time and cultures, bridal bouquets have ranged from humble clumps of wildflowers to pomanders, tight balls of herbs and flowers hung by a ribbon, to tussie-mussies, small arrangements of blooms and herbs chosen for their hidden language. Today’s bridal flowers range from elaborate cascades of blooms that tumble from the hands like a waterfall  to nosegays, round clusters held by a handle, to an artful curved arrangement cradled in one arm. Stems wrapped in ribbon are one of today’s loveliest trends.


Certainly a wedding wouldn’t be complete without flowers.  I made bouquets of straw flowers for my bridesmaids, thinking they’d last forever. (They did not.)Those of you who have been or will be brides, what flowers decorate(d) your big day? As a wedding guest, what are the loveliest flower arrangements you remember?


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