The Georgian Era is a period of English history that starts with King George I being crowned in 1714. He was succeeded by King George II and King George III. Finally, when King George IV died in 1830, the Georgian Era came to an end.
The Georgian Era is often remembered as a time of changes in terms of the lifestyle of the people. Even though the technology was bringing changes in society, there were a number of customs that remained the same for the Georgians as compared to the generations before them. The wedding ceremonies were one such traditional event in the lives of Georgian Era people.
Social Importance of Weddings
Weddings in the Georgian Era were not only an event that held importance for the bride, groom and their family members. Instead, marriages held a special place in the social context of the Georgian Era. It is because most marriages were arranged in order to achieve social mobility for women. For men, having a wife and a son meant an heir for their property.
Due to its social value, marriage ceremonies were celebrated by the families and friends of both the bride and groom with pleasure and pride. However, this does not mean that marriage ceremony were pompous and used to take place in the presence of a large number of people. Instead, the ceremonies were smaller and no invitations were sent to people who lived far away.
For making a match public knowledge, it was printed in the newspapers. This was the only way of making a social announcement and was so important that the marriages that were not printed were never recognized by the society. Sometimes, the name of the bride was not included in the announcement and only the name of the father was printed.
Wedding Ceremonies of the Georgian Era
The people of the Georgian Era used to have wedding ceremonies in the morning. The reason for this was that most auspicious tasks during those times were performed in broad daylight. The day of the wedding ceremony was often selected by the clergy and the couple as per their convenience. Not many invitations were sent to the family and friends and only the people who live in the same city used to attend the ceremony.
The dresses of the bride and groom were not a matter of discussion as big as it is in the present times. The bride would wear her ‘best dress’ which was not necessarily white. Moreover, the color of the dress depended on the social status of the bride. The women who belonged to lower classes preferred dark colors as they could be easily maintained. It implies that the upper class women usually selected light colors. The groom used to wear tailcoats and trousers.
The wedding ceremony used to take place inside the church, but there were not a lot of guests who were present. The ceremony would take place in the presence of the bride, groom and a clergyman. Sometimes the family of the couple also used to be present. The ceremony was performed according to the Book of Common Prayer and the exchange of rings was the highlight event.
After the completion of the ceremony, the couple used to proceed to enter their marriage lines in the register of the parish. This was a formal registration of the marriage. All the people who were present during the ceremony used to sign the register as a witness to the ceremony. The bride would hold this document as proof of her marriage because it was more important for her to be the wife of a gentleman for having social status. Following this, the couple would proceed outside where the close friends and neighbors of the couple would greet them.
The wedding ceremony was followed by a meal, which was breakfast because of the timings of the ceremony. Sometimes the bride and groom used to depart for their honeymoon immediately after the ceremony, in which case they did not attend the breakfast. Some couples used to leave for their honeymoon after attending the meal.
The wedding breakfast included items that used to be consumed in the morning, but a wide variety of food items was made available. The meal would include breads of different kinds, toasts with butter, ham, hot rolls, eggs. The most important food item was the wedding cake which looked more like fruit cake.
The most important ingredient of the cake was alcohol that added flavour to the cake and also helped in preserving the cake for longer times. The wedding cake was usually sent to the relatives living far away as a token of the ceremony. Following the wedding ceremony, the couple would leave for honeymoon to some scenic countryside or sometimes to their relatives living far away.