We gave this to all our guests, along with the order of service.
A Note from Simon and Denise
We are so happy that you are here today to help us celebrate our marriage. This note explains some seventeenth century customs.
This ribbon favour is a true love knot. We want to honour you and give it to you for luck. Young men should wear them in your hats!
The Wedding Procession
On the wedding morning the bridegroom comes to the brides’ house, takes her by the hand and says ‘mistress, I hope you are willing’. He kisses her and follows her father out of the house. The bride is led to Church by two bachelors who act as her bride-men carrying branches of rosemary. The bridemen gallantly wear the bride’s colours round their sleeves and carry them aloft during the procession to church. The groom is led in by the bridesmaids who carry posies and gilded branches of rosemary, the flower of love and constancy.
Until the late nineteenth century, many bridal parties went to Church on foot. If homes lay at the parish boundary, couples might walk two or three miles to be married, with interested children as an escort and cottage women calling good wishes from their doors. The party proceeded two by two, the old superstition that the pair must not meet on the wedding day before the ceremony had little weight when there was no alternative.
Leaping at weddings could well be related to the planting rituals of Europe, as well as being a passage rite. In some districts the bride and groom were expected to leap over the louping-stone in the churchyard, or found their homeward way barred by a flowery garland over which they had to jump or pay forfeit.
The bedding of the bride and groom
This took place after the food had been consumed, the toasts made, and the singing over. The couple were escorted to bed and the bride men pulled off the brides garters, which had been untied so that they hanged down, and so prevented a hand from coming too near her knee! The garters were fastened to the hats of the gallants. The bridesmaids took the bride into the bed-chamber, where they undressed her. The groom was prepared for bed by his men (with verbal and liquid encouragement). The groom then comes in his night-gown, to his spouse who is surrounded by mother, aunt, sister and friends. Without further ceremony they get into the bed which the priest had been persuaded to bless. The bed would have been dressed up with ribbons, and herbs strewn about the floor. The decking of the bridal bed was most important. Not only were the colours supposed to complement those of the bridal party but the symbolism of each was important for the future welfare of the couple.
When both were in bed the company came into the room to wish the couple joy and to carry out traditional rites until the time came to draw the curtains and leave the married pair in peace. It was at this point that the bride was persuaded to part with her stockings. Flinging the stocking was a favourite wedding-chamber sport: the Bride-men take the brides stocking and the Bride-maids the bridegrooms. Each group sat at the bed’s foot and flung the stockings over their heads, endeavouring to direct them so as they may fall upon the married couple. Finally the young couple were presented with a sack possett, made of wine, milk, eggs, sugar and spices. ‘sack will make a man lusty, and sugar will make him kind’. This was drunk first by the bride and groom and then by the guests. Then the bed-curtains were drawn, and the guests, in a last flurry of good wishes, withdrew to continue their revelry downstairs. When the couple were finally left alone they might find that their sheets had been sewn together – a prank carried out by the bridesmaids.
Coming out bride
Wedding clothes were not quickly laid away. Before honeymoons became popular, on the Sunday after the wedding, “Showing off Sunday.” The whole bridal party, in wedding finery, appeared at Church, arriving after the start of the service to give the congregation the best chance to view their splendours. They made their way majestically to the front pew or gallery, where during the sermon they rose to their feet and turned slowly about before admiring eyes. This display continued on each of the four honeymoon Sundays. The bride was privileged to select the text for the sermon. Ecclesiastes 4,9,10. was often considered a good choice.
The celebration is a seventeenth century buffet. We will serve:
- Grand Salad
- 2 Minor Salads
- Venison Pasty
- Salmon Pie
- Soused Pork
- Pease Pudding
- Apple Pie
- Fresh Fruit
- Liquorice Sticks
- Lob Lolly (sweet buttered cinnamon rice)
- Dates with minced ginger
- Rolls, Butter and Salt
Blue ribbons (for garters) tied below my knees
Dress – pale yellow, blue, rose, lilac – rich satin or brocade
Hair loose with a circlet of gold, mrytle or corn ears
Wedding knives contained in one sheath
Favours sowed on gown from top to bottom and round the neck and on sleeves
Favours – topenny, broade pink collour satten robbon eyed with narrow blake 39
Favours – bride laces, ribbon bows, true love knots. Distributed as favours to those whom it was desired to associate with the wedding and to honour. To be worn for several weeks afterwards as they bring luck to their possessors.
Have favours in 2 or 3 colours
- blue – religion
- gold – jollity
- yellow – honour and joy
Bride laces/ ribbon bows are also known as true love knots
Knives – given to bride, worn as a symbol of her married status
Gilt rases of ginger (gilded roots or sprigs of ginger) which would be dried, gilded and fastened to the brides girdle along with her wedding knives for guests to admire.
We kiss over the wedding cake
Silver cup filled with wine.
Ancient custom of drinking wine with sops in it at the end of the ceremony by the married pair and witnesses. Sometimes a spring of rosemary is dipped in it.
- Gilded rosemary
- Tussie Mussie
- White garters, a 1/4 of a yard deep, with silver laces at the end
- ribbons in my colours which they hold aloft
myrtle, old fashioned roses, orange blossom
FOR PICKERINGS PRESS
Each of the bridesmaids, and many of the guests, would carry a nosegay or posy, and the content of these posies was of considerable significance. Some of the old fashioned flowers included in the posies were lady-smock, prick-madam, gentleheart and maiden’s blush. More familiar flowers were rose, pansy, violet, primrose and orange blossom. Posies included bayleaf and gorse, an old rhyme states that “when the furze is out of bloom, kissing is out of fashion”. Gilded rosemary and bay were particularly fashionable. Rosemary used at weddings was often previously dipped in scented water.