As the new century dawned in 1901, fashion was quickly changing. Soon hemlines would rise while necklines would fall, and dress styles began to hug a woman’s body. Wedding fashions, however, did not change as drastically and were somewhat behind the times compared to streetwear. Wedding traditions, on the other hand, are surprisingly recognizable. Let’s examine Edwardian wedding fashion and traditions. (This post is a companion piece to Melina Druga’s WWI Trilogy, Angel of Mercy, Those Left Behind and Adjustment Year, available wherever eBooks are sold.)
At the beginning of the era, wedding fashion was transitioning from the 1890s. Wedding dresses had puffy sleeves and high, stiff necklines. The wedding party often wore large hats.
The woman’s suit was popular during the era, and it also appeared in wedding fashion. Not everyone could afford to purchase a dress that would be worn only once. A suit or a special-occasion dress could be worn again, stretching the bride’s clothing budget.
Empire-waist dresses made a comeback about 100 years after they first debuted, but unlike other special occasional dresses of the era, wedding dresses still maintained high necklines and long, tight sleeves.
Veils were made of lace and supported by tiaras, ringlets of flowers or mob caps.
Bridesmaids often wore pastel shades, but in earlier decades wore white like the bride.
Female members of the bridal party accessorized with jewelry.
World War I is the traditional end of the Edwardian era. The war changed not only wedding fashion but courtship and marriage.
Wedding fashions may have changed a great deal since 1914, but wedding traditions have been fairly consistent over time. Here are some examples:
- Engagement rings: Engagement rings became popular for the first time in the 19th century. Rings didn’t necessarily feature a diamond like today’s rings, and could be other precious gems and pearls.
- Bouquets: Bouquets were large, although the height and width varied depending upon the year. Flowers were accompanied by a train of flowing ribbon and maidenhair fern.
- The Wedding Reception: Receptions were typically held in early to mid-afternoon, following a morning wedding.
- Wedding Gifts: In affluent families, gifts were put on display the day before the wedding. No matter social class, not buying the couple a gift was considered a breech of etiquette.
- Honeymoons: For those who could afford it, a long honeymoon was commonplace. The location was generally kept secret and wasn’t revealed until the couple’s return.
- Second weddings: Weddings in the era could be grand affairs. Second weddings, however, were much simpler.
Edwardian Wedding Videos
These Edwardian-era films illustrate wedding fashion.
Updated: 28 October 2020