We have reached the half way mark to the wedding. It comes with a whirl of emotions from excitement, anticipation, eagerness, and frustration over the measured pace of the planning. Tomorrow, my planner and I are off to visit the Florists to go over blooms and blossoms.
A Victorian wedding is renown for its profusion of flowers. The abundance of flora is indicative of the Romantic Movement in aesthetics, aside the fact it was England (which is famous for its flowers). In a standard high end Christian Victorian wedding, there were flower arches inside and outside the church, pew flowers or pomanders, vases or baskets of blooms flanking the alter, with petals strewn about the aisle by the flower girls. The reception, more often was held at a home bedecked in more blossoms and greenery; garlands gracefully draped over stair railings or fireplace mantels, adorning all the tables were elaborate center pieces, and vases of such were also placed near columns. It did not end there, the bride’s dress might have “pick-ups” pinned with roses, flowers in the hair were quite common for many of the females in the wedding party. Flower crowns or wreaths were given to the flower girls. Obviously, there were the bridal bouquet, bridesmaids bouquet, boutonnieres, and Mothers and grandmother’s corsages. Fresh flowers were also seen on hats of wedding guests and used to decorate the wedding cake. Even the get-away carriage was festooned in blooms. In short, they were EVERYWHERE!
My own wedding will not resemble floral Victorian wedding for various reasons. The most important, My Fiancé and his family are deadly allergic to just about everything that grows from the ground. I have never met a group of people with such wicked allergies. To save them from the itchy, sneezing, wheezing, running nose, watery eyes, and hives, I am opting for very few fresh flowers. There will be a healthy mix of silk flowers, craft flowers, and quasi-flowers.
I am requiring the florist to incorporate purple and yellow pansies (my favorite flower, for which inspired my wedding colors), orange blossoms (the quintessential Victorian wedding flower) and a pleasing amalgamation of deep purple and lavender blooms. My bouquet will not be a tightly bound dome-shaped bundle, but something a little more loose and wild. No cascade for me either; far too heavy. It will be mix of silk and fresh.
As a lover of contrast, my Maid of Honor will be wearing a lavender dress, so I am pairing her with deep purple bouquet. While, my brides maids are donning deep purple frocks, so their bouquet will be lavender. The maids will have real-live flowers. The flower girl will be tossing both tints and shades of purple petals down the aisle. The flower girl might end up with silk petals or a mix of both.
My Fiancé, the groomsmen, the ring-bearer, the fathers and my brother will be fitted with craft roses in their buttonhole. It keeps the fresh flowers away from My Fiancé’s face. I have a friend who is making these for me, as I am not a crafty person.
The mother’s will slip on brooch-corsages, fashioned with ribbons made to look floral and enhance the pin. It gives a bit of a vintage flair and will match their contrasting metallic gowns. Again, this was done with my mother-in-law’s allergies in mind. Surprising, my own mother really loved the idea based on its practicality. She was thrilled that I am allowing the mothers to pick out their own brooch. She said she could “re-wear the brooch on another dress, jacket, coat, shrug, hip, belt, hair-piece, cardigan, hat, clutch, or purse. I want it to be beautiful! I want to always remind me of my daughter’s wedding! I want to be buried in it!” Wait–what?! Good heavens, woman! That escalated quickly! While, I am glad she is thinking long-term, that is a tall order for a lil brooch. We shall see what we end up with.
Decorative flowers will consist of silk blooms to decorate the fireplace mantel. The aisle might also have some residual petals near the “pew chairs,” prior to the flower girl’s entrance. I am setting up a spectacular escort card table for the cocktail hour that will need many fresh and silk flowers.
I am lucky to use my Fiancé and his family as a (legitimate) excuse to pair down the flowers. To be quite honest, I find the floral budget a colossal waste of money. Do not misunderstand me, I think flowers are absolutely beautiful and gorgeous and completely alter the ambiance of the wedding experience. Thus said, as a person rooted in practicality and a brown thumb, I do not have the appreciation for flora, as others might. My wedding will be allergy free as much as possible, so I know for sure that the tears during the ceremony are ones of joy and not induced by pollen.
As much as My Fiancé and I enjoy high culture, we are not great dancers. One would think, a musician like My Fiance would have the basis to be a wonderful dancer. Untrue. Perhaps, one would assume since both of us have Latin blood running through our veins and a bi-cultural upbringing, would enhance our propensity for dance. Also, untrue. My Fiancé is not comfortable on the dance floor. While I may be initially more graceful than he, I have difficult with parts of music and dance, such as being “on beat.” This mainly stems from my “deafness” and lack of obsessive interest in music in general. As for my Latin roots, both my cousins and mother have bemoaned my “white hips.” Exclaiming such statements, “Just do not stand there! Move your hips!—-Geez, not like that! You look like you are having a seizure!” –Some people are so difficult to please.
While I took tap dance as a child, I certainly did not like performing in front of others and used every excuse in the book to miss the big show. I loved the costumes! I did not like the entire room looking at me. I always wanted to learn how to ballroom dance and thought perhaps if my cousins had Quienceneras, I might learn how to waltz if part of the Court. It turns out none of my fourteen cousins had the Sweet 15 party, so I never did learn to waltz.
Now, I have my chance! I am very excited! As per my request when we were courting, My Fiancé composed our First Dance song. He won’t reveal the title, but I have heard it and it is lovely! It incorporates seven instruments including the beloved violin.
We actually know two chorographers, but decided to go with his friend. Mrs. Lee actually happened to be there the night My Fiancé and I first met, so she has a special place in our love story. My Fiancé has sent her the music and I have contacted her regarding particulars. I desired a form of a Waltz because it is the Victorian thing to do, but also because we will be honeymooning in the home country of the Waltz. I informed her my dress is not “flowy” so leg movements will not be visually enhanced. My bodice is off the shoulder, which might restrict certain arm movements. The dance floor at the venue is not square but shaped like a rectangle. Most importantly, I want drama to the moves. I adore the sexual tension and grace in the dance scenes from Keira Knightly’s version of Anna Karenina and Catherine Zeta-Jones’ turn with Antonio Banderas in the Mask of Zorro. My Fiancé is not as enamored with the “weird hand thing” of Anna Karenina, but there are moves in both dances he likes. Granted, I am not sure what those moves are . . . We have not seen our chorography yet and we are waiting for My Fiancé to recover a bit from his knee surgery before we start “hopping around.”
Mrs. Lee will also be choreographing the fun father-daughter dance. When I was little I wanted a slower song, but my father is Cryer. A very BIG Cryer, so I thought perhaps if we had a more upbeat song, he would not be using my dress as a handkerchief for his tears. He is actually a ham in front of crowds and has no shame, really. He also has the stereotypical “White man” dance skill, but he always has fun and that is really all that matters. We are still deciding on the song so we can bust a move.
My Fiancé revealed recently there will be a third dance Mrs. Lee is choreographing. Some mysterious dance. He said it is not a dance the groomsmen will do, because I mentioned he and his buddies could do something silly together. I also suggested hiring dancers for a special flamenco bit. I have no idea what the mysterious third dance will be. For all I know it could be another Waltz . . . between My Fiancé and my brother. I wonder if My Fiancé is composing the music for this mysterious dance . . . .?
As much as I loathe the comparison, the Waltz was the “twearking” of the 19th century. Like most dance crazes, the waltz came from streets of the ghetto or in this case the German/Austrian peasant country. It was considered obscene for the time, as it was a dance between one woman and one man, facing each other, touching, in close proximity, twirling like a dervish in glee in full view of everyone. The shame of it all! Might as well have sex on the hardwood for all the indecency. Prior to the waltz during the Regency period, group dances were the norm. These dances were very similar to square dancing of the American Country Western Music variety. Needless to say the Waltz caught on and swept over Europe, with each country adopting nuanced moves. For example, the Viennese Waltz is rather spirited and fast, with the British version is slower and more restrained. Our wedding waltz will be uniquely ours and I would have it no other way.
Planning a wedding is an interesting thing. Of course, it is all about the details. Yet, it is the detail you did not expect, that keeps you awake at night. Such was the case when it came time to choose a wedding photographer. Photographers? Really?! It is so against character for me. I would have thought the wedding venue would require spread sheets of data to dissect. While, my planner and I conversed via copious emails prior to the venue walk-throughs, when I entered our chosen location. I proclaimed, “That’s it, I’m done! This is perfect, cancel the rest of the go-sees.” My planner, giggled, clapped her hands and proceeded to cancel the rest of the appointments that day.
Catering to my Type A personality, she sent me a list of eight photographer options to review. I took my homework seriously, visiting the photographers websites and provided my assessment. I also looked up some photographers not on her list. I sent the list of six “outside” photographers to my wedding planner after conferring with My Fiancé.
Based on their availability for my wedding date and the budget, she wheedled all our lists down to four in-person interviews. My guess was the first and last photographers on the itinerary were going to be the top two. And I was right! The first photographer was one of my original picks. I shall refer to this young husband-wife couple as Photographer A. The last interview, was a photographer all three of us agreed on. I shall refer to this one as Photographer B.
My Fiancé and I loved both Photographer A and Photographer B! Their work was beautiful and very much our style They were both relaxed and funny. The only noticeable differences were the husband and wife duo, had a man on the team, obviously, and their price was at the upper end of our budget. Photographer B, was the owner of her company and another photographer would also be working the wedding as well. Her price was right on budget.
So what was the problem? We loved them both! Over and over in wedding literature, wedding planners and the photographers, themselves, stress the bride and groom’s personalities must be compatible to the photographers’. If you are uncomfortable in any way, it will show up in the pictures, which will look forced and stiff. In layman’s terms, the images will not be as beautiful. Hire the photographer within your budget, but one you could easily see being your best friend. Seriously. Often times, these photographers end up being your Lifestyle photographers who will capture the milestones following the wedding such as maternity, child portraits, family portraits, birthdays, senior year photos, graduations, anniversaries, etc. The idea is the photographer should be an investment. Sure, it does not always work out that way and some people view photographers as the hired help on the wedding day and never see them again.
It took My Fiancé and I six days to finally decide whom to hire. We were grasping at straws for differences that would tip the scale for us. We looked at their personal lives as well. Both Photographers are involved in the Christian church (Does this matter or reflect in their work? Probably not, but we just needed differences.) Photographer B, grew up near My Fiancé’s home town and actually went to the same out of town private Christian school growing up. They bonded over this rare coincidence. Photographer A were so stinking adorable! They were high school sweethearts. Both used to be elementary school teachers before becoming full time photographers. Their business quickly grew after four years. They were featured in a national magazine. They are still teachers at heart, very giving, and genuine. They give photography workshops (which Photographer B recently attended), speak at conferences, trouble shoot up-coming photographers technical questions via Skype, and they have an amazing contact lists!
Here is the thing, though. I am not a “Picture Person.” I love the artistic aspect of it, but not necessarily for the memorabilia reason. Ironic, right? Back in 2006, six people from father’s side of the family died of unrelated reasons. Six people! Three couples, actually. In the span of 18 months. We had three estates to go through. Three ESTATES! My parents had to go through all the boxes and stuff in the houses. Receipts starting from 1937, five years worth of printed emails, and photographs. Thousands and thousands of photographs! Three estates worth of photographs. We had whole storage units devoted to boxes of pictures. Pictures of people we did not know, friends of friends, images were not dated nor were people noted. 2006 irrevocably streamed lined my life. Every one of my receipts, photographs, knick-knacks, I think to myself “When I die my descendants will have to go through all this ‘crap.'” It makes me very selective as to what I keep. I have courted My Fiancé for three years prior to his proposal and we have only three framed pictures of us. Needless to say, we will not be purchasing a Wedding Album, but we will purchase a few wedding photos for our house. As few as possible. Personally, I find it uncomfortable to live in a home where I see my face all over the place.
That said, Senora M, my mother-in-law, is the exact opposite! Her fridge is hidden under three layers deep of photographs of her friends and friends’ family, extended family, and so on. Her hallways are shellacked in framed family portraits and school pictures of her five children and two grandchildren. Then there are the handmade photo albums, at least one for each child but many more. I joked to My Fiancé that I would not be surprised if Senora M purchased ALL the wedding photos available or if she made a life-size cut-out of us in our wedding finery to display in the family room. He laughed and ceded it is a real possibility.
So it brings me back to our Wedding Photographer dilemma. Who do we chose? Photographer A whom we could easily see becoming best friends within a heartbeat and garnered so many accolades in just six years? Or Photographer B whom is funny in her own right and has far more experience under her belt?
This modern-day agony of deciding whom to be your wedding photographer was not way Victorians selected to capture their memories. When Queen Victoria married she was painted. She reenacted her wedding a few times later for photographic evidence and to relive the fantasy, but at the time of the wedding, the event was painted or rendered in ink for the press.–As with everything Victorian, photographs were a status symbol. It was not about capturing emotion. How gauche! It was about documenting a dynastic marriage and showing off the wedding gown and orange blossoms. Wedding portraits were usually done in photography studio, typically on a day after the wedding. This way the lighting could be controlled and the distractions within the setting could be minimalized. Remember, photography was still a new medium during the 19th century and the cameras did not have fast shutter speeds. The flash was all encompassing. Many Victorian wedding photographs show couples with unsmiling faces. There are two schools of thought on this. One, it is hard to hold a genuine smile for the long exposure needed with early cameras. Other people cite Victorian social etiquette, claiming smiling made them look juvenile or pedestrian. A wedding was serious business and a status marker, let it be remembered that way. In this regards, some moderns speculate many of the upper class Victorian marriages were essentially arranged and usually one party was not amused with the idea and were married against their will, so to speak. So it is no wonder they are not smiling.
My Fiancé and I will not be like that. We will be smiling so hard our faces will crack. Our photographer will be documenting it. In the end we chose . . . . Photographer B.
Last month, My Fiancé and I secured a venue for our wedding ceremony and reception. Finally, one of the biggest obstacles is cleared. The venue dictates so much. The guest list, the color scheme, the sound quality, and actually the type of dress; which I some-what ignored. Our wedding theme is British Victorian meets Spanish Glamour. Up until we found the venue, I was quite afraid the Spanish side would not be represented well, since the vast majority of things we plan to incorporate are of the British Victorian side. Given the dearth of Queen Anne or Chateau style architecture in Arizona large enough to accommodate an indoor ceremony for 200 guests, to say nothing of the staff needed for an event, I was quite shocked at my ridiculous oversight. I really hoped for those Queen Annes, but once I began to stress over the lack of Spanish representation, I wanted to kick myself for my stupidity. Arizona has a massive amount of Spanish inspired venues! I take that back, depending on what part of Arizona one is examining, Arizona has a massive amount of Mexican inspired venues. It is far too commonplace here to make much of an impression on me. So when we found something more European in flavor, we were thrilled. In actuality, the architecture of our chosen site is Tuscan, another popular architectural style here in Arizona, it had so much of the European feel to it and less Mediterranean, we wrote it off as Spanish (from Spain, as oppose to Mexican . . . from Mexico). Having fallen in love with Madrid years ago, the elements and accents of our wedding venue are passably Spanish. Moreover, the majority of the guest list is not all that well verse in Art and architecture, nor do they care. So “Spanish” it is! All British Victorian elements will be brought in.
Historically, weddings were held differently. There were not any off-site wedding venues until fairly recently due to the Wedding Machine/Business blowing-up in Western Society. The ceremonies were always held at the local church and the receptions were always held at the home (usually the bride’s, since it was tradition to get married in the bride’s home town).
Of course, then, as in now, there are no absolutes in Weddings. Occasionally, people were married outdoors, depending on the weather, preference, and if the officiant would allow it. For whatever reason, the ceremony could be held in the home with the hearth taking place of the alter. This happened more in stately homes of the wealthy who could accommodate more than just a handful of people in front of the fireplace. However, the ceremony itself was always religious and “best” held on in a house of worship or on holy ground. Likewise, the throwing of the rice was done upon leaving the church to go to the reception site and thus the get-away transportation was decorated.
There were other reasons not to get married in a church. If either party was previously married (not divorce, but widowed, was the most common reason for remarriages at the time) it ought to be held elsewhere. In other words, if the bride was impure she was not allowed to marry in a house of worship. How could one tell, other than taking the bride’s word for it? Well, some institutions double checked this fact on their own terms. Once the white wedding gown became a symbol of purity, it too, was denied to impure brides. Presently, one does not need to be married at a church. It could be for religious reasons. If each party is of a different religion, it might unduly favor one religion over the other. Some couples do not practice a religion. On the other hand, in modern times some churches allow non religious couples marry in their house of worship. While certain camps might claim it is proof of religious tolerance, others say it is for monetary reasons. Regardless of the cause, it is now a viable option.
For anyone with less than a million dollars in the bank, the reception could spilled out into the neighborhood or held in the village green to accommodate the amount of people. Sometimes, one or both of the gatherings was held at the groom’s residence or town .For the upper class, having the reception at home was no real bother. Some families had various residences to choose from. The royalty had numerous estates. In the case of the monarchy, the wedding was held in the country of the individual of the higher rank. For example, our Dear Queen Victoria, could not possibly marry her beloved Albert in Germany, even if she wanted to. I believe the idea of the wedding venue as we know it today, caught on because of the guests were loathe to travel great distances from the parish church to the reception site, it was also harder for the couple to control in some ways. A wedding venue was one stop shopping where not everything had to be rented a la carte and brought in.
As with everything, the reception was both a way for the brides family to show off and the first event the married couple hosts, with conflicting results. How one throws a wedding is often very telling of the couple and their families. Is the wedding small? They might be a very practical group or even introverts. Is the wedding big? Perhaps, they have saved up and willing to spend just for the occasion or have a large social group? Every detail is a reflection on the priorities and their personalities. The Victorians never forgot that.
Back to the 21st century, yes, we picked a wedding venue. A modern choice. Well, see how this dictates our other decision