G. R. M. Devereux.

The Etiquette of Engagement and Marriage online

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banns on production of a registrar's certificate. I know of a runaway
couple who were married in church as soon as their parents found out
that they had been before the registrar.


These are of two kinds, the common and the special. A common licence
is given by the archbishop or bishop, and can be obtained in London at
the Faculty Office, 23 Knightrider's Street, Doctors' Commons, E.C.,
or at the Vicar-General's Office, 3 Creed Lane, Ludgate Hill, E.C.,
between the hours of 10 A.M. and 4 P.M., on all week days, except
Saturday, when they close at 2 P.M. Licences from these two places are
available for use in any part of England or Wales. They cost thirty
shillings, with an extra twelve and sixpence for stamps. In order to
prevent fraud, no licence can be given till one of the parties has
made a declaration on oath that there is no legal impediment to the
marriage, and that one of them has lived for fifteen days in the
parish or district where the wedding is to take place. This last
restriction is often evaded by the bridegroom's taking a bedroom in
which he possibly sleeps one night, and where he is represented by a
bag containing - stones, or a collar, if he likes.

Those licences obtained from the bishop's diocesan registry can only
be used in the diocese where they are issued. They cost from £1, 15s.
to £2, 12s. 6d., according to the diocese. The vicar or rector of any
parish will give full particulars as to how they are to be obtained in
country places.

The Special Licence

costs about £30, and is given by the archbishop through the Faculty
Office under certain conditions. It dispenses with {83} previous
residence in the district, and can be used anywhere and at any time,
providing satisfactory reasons have been given for its issue.


No marriage should be performed in any church or chapel unless at
least two witnesses are present, who also attest the signing of the
parish register. The ordinary fee for the certificate, or "marriage
lines," is 2s. 7d., including the stamp, but this charge may vary a

The Civil Contract.

This may be done by certificate or licence. If a certificate is
required, one of the parties must give formal notice to the
superintendent registrar of the district in which both have lived for
seven days immediately preceding the notice. If the couple live in
separate places, similar notice must be given by each one. A solemn
statement that there is no legal obstacle to the marriage must be
made, together with notification of their places of residence, and, in
the case of a minor, whether the consent of parent or guardian is
forthcoming. The certificate may not be issued for twenty-one days
after the notice has been entered, and this certificate is only
available for three months.

After the expiration of twenty-one days the wedding may take place at
the Registry Office, in the presence of the superintendent registrar,
a registrar of the district, and two witnesses, within the appointed
hours, from 8 A.M. to 3 P.M. The mutual declaration is short and to
the point. A ring is usually employed, but I have heard of strange
substitutes being used at a pinch.

If a licence is desired, similar formalities must be observed as when
procuring one for use in a church, and one day must elapse between its
issue and the wedding.

No minister of religion need be present at a civil contract, even if
it take place in a chapel or building certified for marriages. Members
of the Society of Friends may, after giving notice as above described,
be married in their Meeting House; but to make it legal, the fact
must be duly registered {84} by the officer of the district as soon
after the ceremony as possible.

The presence of a registrar is not necessary at marriages performed in
Nonconformist chapels if they are duly certified and an "authorised
person" (that is, one duly appointed by the trustees or governing body
of the building) is present during the proceedings. Certain
declarations, similar to those made before the registrar, must be
included in any form of service. The "authorised person" must register
the marriage at his earliest convenience.

Fees for Civil Contract.

A marriage by certificate costs about ten or twelve shillings. With a
licence, the expense mounts up to about £2, 15s.


This is a matter of cold unromantic fact, and one which very ardent,
impossible lovers regard almost in the light of a desecration. As the
prosaic side of life has to be faced, it is very necessary that money
matters should find a place in the matrimonial preparations.

An honourable man is always anxious to effect some arrangement by
which his wife may be safeguarded from ruin or extreme poverty. If she
has money of her own, he will see that it is settled upon her
absolutely. Should he raise, or even hint at, an objection to this
plan, he will lay himself open to a serious charge of possessing
mercenary motives. A man with private means would settle a certain
portion upon his wife; but, in the ordinary course of things, she
would only have the interest of this amount, and would not have
control over the capital during his life. At the same time, it could
not be touched by his creditors.

In more legal language: "By marriage settlements the property to be
settled by one or both of the parties is conveyed to trustees upon
trust as to the lady's property for her separate use during her life,
and after her decease for the husband for his life. The husband's
property is settled on him for life with remainder to the wife for
life. On the death of the survivor the trust is for the children of
the marriage in such {85} shares as the husband and wife, or the
survivor, appoint, and in default of appointment among the children
equally." Clauses as to maintenance and education of the children,
and powers of investment of trust funds, are inserted. In settling
large estates and sums of money various modes of settlement are adopted
to suit the circumstances, but the above is the outline of an ordinary
settlement. Large landed estates are generally settled, after the decease
of the settlers, upon the first and other sons in tail male with cross
remainders between them, and in default of male issue among the

The Bride's Dowry,

or marriage portion, is of very ancient origin. Even two centuries
before Christ the wealth possessed by a woman brought her an increase
of respect from her husband, and lessened the humiliation of her legal
and social position. By degrees the rich wife gained the upper hand,
and what the law would not give to her sex as a right, she obtained by
virtue of her money.



_The Wedding-Day - What is expected of (1) The Bride; (2) The
Bridesmaids; (3) The Bridegroom; (4) The Best Man; (5) The Bride's
Parents - At the Bride's House - Dressing - Starting for the
Church - The Tying of the Knot - Social Aspect - Reception or Breakfast._

The Wedding-Day.

"Happy is the Bride that the Sun shines on!" runs the old adage, but
we may hope that the lives of all English brides are not as grey as
the skies under which they are often married. We can also hope that
every bride will have the sunshine of joy in her heart on her
wedding-day. Most weddings now take place at 2 o'clock or 2.30, in
consequence of the extension of the marriage hours, and this has in
a great measure abolished the old "breakfast," which was a rather
trying affair for all concerned. Now, a more informal reception takes
place on the return from church, with champagne, tea, ices, and all
sorts of pretty light refreshments. Those who, from choice or force
of circumstances, decide upon the morning for the ceremony, would
naturally give a luncheon, but the smarter section of society has
spoken in favour of the reception.

I know of a capricious couple who played their friends a very shabby
trick. The invitations had been issued for a Wednesday, and at the
last moment they decided to be married on the Tuesday morning. They
went quietly to church in the early hours, left the town separately
during the day, met in London, and started for the honeymoon. The next
afternoon their friends assembled to find that the objects of their
congratulations were away across the Channel. This was a most serious
breach of etiquette, as there was no reason for such rudeness.


What is Expected of the Bride.

However long and frequent the visits of the _fiancé_ may have been to
his sweetheart's home, tradition decrees that he must not sleep under
the same roof with her the night before the wedding, nor is he
supposed to see her on the day, till he meets her in all her bridal
beauty. She is supposed to keep in retirement even from the members of
her own household during the early part of the day; but this is a
matter of opinion, and all old ideas are giving way to more modern

On her wedding-day, at least if it is to be a smart affair, the bride
is handicapped as well as adorned by her clothes, as seems to be the
general lot of women on all important occasions. Let us hope that
every care has been taken to minimise the minor anxieties as to the
fit of her frock, the set of her veil, the comfort of shoes and
gloves. She must feel something like a _débutante_ dressing for her
presentation at court; but while the latter is only making her entry
into society, the bride is entering upon a condition that will affect
her eternally, and one that ought to have the blessing of God upon it.
One would therefore like the bride to be free from such inconveniences
as will drag her down mentally. Let her be free to respond to the high
inspirations and holy desires that best become a woman on this great
day of her life. She will probably be nervous, and small wonder, but
she will be none the less attractive for a little maidenly diffidence.
The bride who marches triumphantly through her wedding does not show
the best taste. In the rush and excitement of the wedding morning some
one must make a point of seeing that the bride has proper food to
sustain her through her part in the day's proceedings. Her appearance
will not be improved by the look of strained weariness that combined
fatigue and exhaustion will bring even into the youngest face. She is
expected to look her best and to have her emotions under control
nowadays. The weeping bride is out of date. She is expected to look
happy, for is she not completing the choice which she freely made? If
her shoes pinch, or she is faint from hunger, those expectations
cannot be fulfilled.

The Bridesmaids.

These attendant maidens must be at the church awaiting the bride,
ready to follow her up the aisle, and the chief one {88} takes her place
so as to be prepared to receive the gloves and bouquet from the bride
before the putting on of the ring. One or more of them will help the
bride, later in the day, to change into her travelling costume, and
they can be of assistance in countless ways, both to the hostess and
her guests. Sometimes, however, a bridesmaid is too occupied preparing
for another wedding, in which she will play the chief part, to have
much time for any one else.

The Bridegroom.

Though of the highest and most vital importance, the bridegroom never
seems quite so much to the fore as the bride. It is probably a mere
matter of clothes. He is expected to have the ring in readiness, to
provide a conveyance to take himself and the best man to the scene of
the ceremony, and, above all, to be in good time, waiting in proud
anticipation for the bride's arrival. He does not always look happy or
quite at his ease with the eyes of the curious congregation upon him,
but that is only his modesty. He has to give the bridesmaids a present
(generally some trinket is chosen), and the bride receives her bouquet
from him. Sometimes the best man gives the bridesmaids their bouquets,
but it is generally the bridegroom, unless they are all related

The Best Man.

I have heard it said that the office of the Best Man is to see that
the bridegroom does not run away at the last moment. We will hope he
does not often have hard work in that case. He certainly has to see
that love does not make the bridegroom oblivious to the practical
details of life. He escorts him to church and supports him through the
service. He pays the fees of clerk and clergyman and calls the
carriages when the register is signed. He is a very busy and useful
person, if he does his duty, and much of the success from a social
point of view may lie in his hands.

The Bride's Parents.

The heaviest burden of responsibility falls upon the shoulders of the
bride's mother. She has to arrange with a caterer for the
refreshments, unless she prefers to have all the trouble of {89}
preparing them at home; she must order the carriages, arrange the meals
for guests staying in the house, and settle the order in which the
wedding party is to go to church. She has to see about floral
decorations wherever they are wanted, and now flowers play such an
all-important part in every festivity. She will be the one to whom every
one will go for instructions, and it may be her own heart will be very
sore at the thought of parting with her daughter. Where there are other
grown-up girls they would naturally take some portion of the work off
her hands, but she is nominal head of affairs in most households.

The _father_ has to escort his daughter to church and bestow her upon
her husband. In the event of his being prevented from doing this, her
mother would drive with her, and the relation or friend who was acting
as her father's deputy would meet her at the church door. The bride's
father pays all the expenses of music or decoration in the church in
addition to those of entertainment at home and conveyances. He will
find the bill a large one in these days of lavish display and
increased luxury. The idea that a reception is much cheaper than a
luncheon is balanced by the facts that a far larger number of people
can be included in the former and that champagne cannot be dispensed

At the Bride's House.

Before the appointed hour, bustle and possible confusion will reign in
the bride's home. The young people will take a pride in decking the
reception-rooms with flowers. The presents will be in a room by
themselves, and will probably have been arranged the day before, but
there are always a hundred little finishing touches to be put to
everything. The caterer will, if required, supply all needful glass,
china, tables, and attendance for the reception or breakfast. Everyone
should be dressed in good time. There will be belated presents,
telegrams of congratulation, and all sorts of minor distractions.

Dressing the Bride.

In many cases the dressmaker who has _created_ the wedding gown comes
to see it put on, but where such skilled help is not required the
loving hands of mother, sister, or friend would deck the bride. One
thing I would suggest. It is a risk {90} to dress the hair to suit the
veil rather than the face. I remember seeing a bride quite spoiled by
having her pretty hair dragged up under her veil, when as a rule she
wore it in soft, natural waves round her face and ears. The less
jewellery a bride wears the better, and some recent leaders of fashion
have exchanged the bridal bouquet for a prayer-book, which they
carried in ungloved hands. A bride who is married in the veil of a
happy wife is supposed to be lucky. It is a pretty idea for a girl to
wear her mother's bridal veil.

The Tying of the Knot.

When she is ready and all the others have started for the church, the
bride drives with her father or mother, as the case may be, away from
her old home and her maiden name. These few moments are too sacred for
an outsider to speak of. Upon her arrival the bells ring out, the
choir and clergy form the head of the procession, and she goes up to
the chancel step on her father's right arm to take her place on the
left side of her expectant bridegroom. It seems almost an impertinence
to tell her how she should look at this solemn time, but it is not
necessary or seemly for her to smile and nod to her friends in the
church. She should remove both gloves on taking her place, so that she
may be prepared to take the bridegroom by the hand and to receive the

Arrangement of Seats.

The brothers or cousins of the bride show the guests to their seats in
church. The bridegroom's family and friends sit on the right as they
enter, the bride's party on the left. Parents and nearest relations
occupy the front seats, then others in order of kinship.

As soon as the service is over, the newly-wedded pair, and such of
their relations and friends as have been asked to do so, withdraw to
the vestry, where the register is duly signed and witnessed.

The Social Side.

The bride and bridegroom drive off first from the church, so as to be
in readiness to receive the congratulations of the {91} guests, who
greet them immediately upon returning to the house. They are the
principal people for the time being. The parents follow in the next
carriage, her father taking his mother. Where there are many guests,
no one should expect to take up much of the bride's attention, as she
will have to divide her favours among the company. If there is a
sit-down meal, she would be between her husband and father. The
newly-married pair would either take the head of the table or sit in the
centre of one side of the festive board. The practice of making long
speeches has fallen into disuse, and every bride must be thankful for
the relief. At an informal reception, where there is a chance to move
about, the strain is not so great; but whichever form of entertainment
is chosen, the bride _must cut the cake_, and every one is invited to
partake of it.

Some Items of Expense.

The supply of carriages should be sufficient to enable all the guests
to be conveyed to and from the church with as little delay as
possible, and each carriage and pair will cost from 12s. 6d. to 15s.,
while a guinea is charged for the bride's special equipage. Grey
horses are extra, but few people have them now, as it gives the
situation away. Each driver will expect a tip of a few shillings.

A simple 5lb. wedding-cake can be had for 8s. or 10s., but the larger
and more elaborate ones run up to £5 and £8, the ornamental stands
being extra. Of course there is practically no limit to expenses if
people wish to throw money about. One American wedding cost over a
million dollars. At another the wedding-cake was stuffed with
expensive gewgaws, and as it weighed a quarter of a ton it was
conveyed on silver tram lines up and down the table or buffet.

The bouquets for the bridesmaids cost anything from 15s. to £5, while
that for the bride may run from £4 to £10, or as much more as the
bridegroom likes to give.

Many people who do not want their homes turned upside down or whose
houses are not convenient for a wedding, entertain their friends at an
hotel or a restaurant. This has its advantages, but is not so homelike
for the bride's farewell to her old associations and home life.



_The Guests - The Presents on View - Starting for the
Honeymoon - Dress and Luggage - Where to Go and How Long to
Stay - Inevitable Test of Temperament - Possible
Disappointments - Disillusion, Passing or Permanent._

The Guests.

The average crowd, mainly composed of women, who throng to see a
wedding are unfortunately notorious for their utter lack of reverence
and total want of manners. The invited guests do not always behave in
accordance with the rules of etiquette. One hears a running fire of
comments, such as: "They say she's marrying him for his money!" or
"Well, her mother ought to be glad; she's worked hard enough to catch
him." "He's stepping into a nice thing. I suppose the old boy paid his

Frequent allusions to former flirtations, or worse, are made in a
stage whisper, and open expression is given to the question: "How long
will it last?" by the cynics who seem to have come to be disagreeable.
A wedding is bound to call forth both retrospective and anticipatory
thoughts, but all unkind words should be silenced by a common desire
to let that one day pass happily for all. Guests who snatch at
wedding-favours to take home, who are boisterous in their leave-taking
of the departing couple, who stay to the bitter end and pocket morsels
of bridecake, who loudly appraise the value of the presents, or
audibly speculate as to "what it has cost So-and-So to get his
daughter off," have as yet to learn the rudiments of etiquette.


The Presents on View.

The hostess should see that all the guests have opportunities of
seeing the wedding presents; but it is not judicious for visitors at a
big function to poke about among the gifts unless accompanied by one
of the family or, perhaps, a bridesmaid, because it is generally
deemed wise to have a detective present on such an occasion, and he
might misinterpret this friendly interest to the discomfort of the
prying guests. In arranging the presents a nice thoughtfulness and
tact are necessary. Let the smaller offerings have due prominence, for
the sake of the kindly thought that prompted them. One who had not
been able to afford a gift in any proportion to her affection would
feel touched by its occupying a place of honour.

Starting for the Honeymoon.

As the time for departure draws near the bride will slip away to doff
her bridal splendour for her travelling costume. Her sister, the
favourite bridesmaid, or her mother will doubtless go and help her,
and probably some of the real "Good-byes" will be spoken before she
rejoins the company. The dress will have been chosen with reference to
the journey she is now undertaking. If she has but a short distance to
go it may be a picturesque, dainty creation, but if she has hard
travelling before her it will be of the tailor-made type, at once
stylish and business-like, devoid of unnecessary fallals.

All present will be anxious to take leave of the newly-wedded pair,
and to wish them God-speed. There is often deep sorrow under the
surface of merriment at such partings. It is the moment when young
brothers and frivolous cousins perform impish pranks, while the
parents, and maybe the bride, are feeling the keen pang of separation.
Paper confetti are a harmless substitute for rice, which is not
soothing to receive in the eye or ear. The throwing of old shoes is
said to be a relic of the sticks and stones hurled in wrath by the
defeated friends of the bride when the victorious bridegroom carried
her off as his prize and captive.


The Journey.

Many are the devices resorted to by the newly married to escape
detection on the wedding journey. Some take old battered portmanteaux.
I have heard of a baby being borrowed to block up the window of the
railway carriage; but matrimony, like murder, will out. The bridegroom
will naturally do all in his power to make the journey an ideally
pleasant one, and he will do well to remember that his bride has had
much more to strain her nerves and weary her than he has.


At any time it seems well to avoid a number of small parcels, but on
this occasion it is doubly advisable. Even if the husband and wife can
fix their minds on such prosaic things, it is hardly fair for her to
hang him round with her bags, hat-boxes, and other feminine
impedimenta. On the other hand, if he has brought his cycle, his golf
clubs, his fishing-tackle, and his camera, his attention is bound to
be divided between the safety of his possessions and the comfort of
his bride.

Where to Go.

The destination of the honeymooners will depend upon the time they
have to spare, the money they can spend, and their combined tastes.
There are a few practical hints that may be given. It is often said
that travelling is one of the best tests of temper, so let the woman
who soon feels fretted and looks jaded or is physically indisposed by
a long railway journey take her honeymoon near home. Let no one who is
not reliably happy on board ship attempt to cross the water and run
the risk of ending her wedding-day in the terribly unbecoming
condition caused by _mal de mer_.

How Long to Stay.

The modern tendency to shorten honeymoons seems born of wisdom as much
as of expediency. It may sound brutal, but undisturbed possession soon
palls, and man was made {95} for something more virile than perpetual
billing and cooing. The long honeymoon makes a very heavy demand upon
the emotions. It is fatal to try and keep up a lost illusion. The

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Online LibraryG. R. M. DevereuxThe Etiquette of Engagement and Marriage → online text (page 6 of 9)