Reading the Collections, Week 23: Brides Wedding Book
It’s summer time, the season of weddings, and so this week the focus is upon Brides Wedding Book by Elizabeth Hillier, a graduate of the University of St Andrews. I have to admit that I didn’t set out to read this book once the new strand for this ’52 weeks of …’ was announced, but a friend jokingly suggested one coffee break that as I was recently engaged I should read something about weddings.
I immediately thought of this book, which had passed through my hands a couple of years ago when I was working for the Reading Room team. At the time I’d been struck by the very 1980s style of the dresses, with their puffed sleeves, and some made with (to my mind) rather flamboyant fabrics. So, being newly engaged, the chance to read something ‘wedding-ey’ seemed very appropriate.
By the time I got round to reading this book, most of the plans for my own wedding were in place (to be honest, they were in place a couple of months after my engagement on Christmas Eve last year!), so I felt a fair bit of trepidation when going through this book. What if there was something I’d been hasty about? Would I now have regrets about something? But I needn’t have worried. It seemed I’d done things (mostly) as recommended by the author, and there were still a few tips to pick up.
The groom and his family and friends traditionally occupy the half of the church to the right of the central aisle as you face the altar, and the bride’s family the left-hand half. The origin of this is the groom’s assumed right-handedness. If he is right-handed, he needs that arm free to draw his sword or otherwise defend his bride and himself from marauding aggressors in church. […] Today the tradition continues, even if the groom is left-handed and no marauders are anticipated.
Brides Wedding Book, p. 66.
The book is logically set out, with 7 sections: Beginnings, Practical Matters, The Marriage, Personal Matters, Style, Celebrations, and After the Wedding. Each of these has clear subsections, covering essentials such as engagement and wedding rings, finance and budgeting, invitations, seating in the church, beauty tips, dressing bridesmaids and page boys, letters of congratulations, honeymoon travel, etc., etc. So should one wish to dip in and out, and not read it from cover to cover, it is easy to find the relevant information.
Much of the planning for our wedding in April 2016 are in place. But this book has still provided me with ideas for things which are not yet settled.
I shall take advice of the handy hint to brief one of the ushers to take my mother to her seat in the Chapel (after all, it wouldn’t be fair to strand her on her own as my father and I make our way to the Chapel), and also follow some suggestions of who should be thanked by whom in the speeches. I apparently don’t need to buy new underwear, the bride’s “usual underwear, clean and comfortable” being perfectly suitable (although my suggestion to a friend that I wear a pair of old blue knickers for my ‘something blue’ elicited the horrified response not to contemplate such a thing!). And should we be unfortunate enough to receive a gift “hideous beyond belief” I can take comfort in the thought that we can “hide it or give it to a charity after a suitable pause”. However, I think I’ll be unlikely to leave the reception on an elephant (this being an interesting alternative to the bride or groom’s car).
Being over 20 years old, this book does feel somewhat dated –the dress fashions are no longer in vogue, there is an emphasis on the wife taking care of the home whilst the husband takes on the financial responsibilities, and much more organisation will be done via email today rather than over the telephone or by letter as is advised in the book. But the suggestions for timings on the day, the checklists of things to do (and when to do them), wordings for invitations, order of service, etc., and the general guidance on how to organise your wedding all remain relevant. I’ve had great fun reading this book, and will undoubtedly be incorporating suggestions from it into our own wedding. Only 9 months to go!
Lead Cataloguer (Phase 1)