February 14-17, 2014
Janice Bennett • Kate Dolan • Susana Ellis • Saralee Etter • A.S. Fenichel • Aileen Fish • Barbara Miller • Hetty St. James • Elaine Violette
We’re not your typical Ellora’s Cave authors!
We write for Cotillion, an imprint of Ellora’s Cave’s Blush line, the mainstream “other” side of Ellora’s Cave that most people don’t know about.
Yes, Virginia, Ellora’s Cave does publish mainstream romance, in addition to the erotic romance it’s famous for. Even sweet romance, such as traditional Regencies, believe or not!
Cotillion is the traditional Regency imprint of Ellora’s Cave’s Blush line. Cotillion stories are chock-full of romance and traditions common in the early 19th century. Their settings range from elegant London ballrooms to family estates in the country. Heroines may be wealthy society belles or impoverished gentry such as the Bennet daughters in Pride and Prejudice. Heroes may be titled or untitled, but if they are rakes, they must be ready to reform, because the only sexual behavior you’re going to see here is kissing.
If you like Jane Austen and traditional Regencies such as were popularized by Georgette Heyer, why not give our books a try? We’d love to hear what you think!
Hop around to your heart’s content, feel free to comment on the posts, hunt for answers to the authors’ scavenger hunt questions, and perhaps you’ll be one of our 10 lucky prize winners (see contest details below)…although you’re already a winner if you find a new story to read, don’t you agree?
The theme for this tour is Love in the Regency Era, and for my post, I’ve chosen to talk about “A Regency wedding dress”.
AND THE (REGENCY) BRIDE WORE…
The traditional white wedding gown, worn only once and then tucked away, is a relatively recent invention.
Up until 1840, when Queen Victoria’s wedding dress made white the only color for the bride’s special gown, a young woman might get married in a dress of any color. And after her big day, she would most likely wear it again.
A white gown from 1823 which could have served both as an evening gown and a wedding dress.
During the Regency era, a bride would wear the best dress she (or her family) could afford for the occasion of her wedding. A young woman from a wealthy family might have a special dress made, an elegant gown that she could wear to a ball or to the opera. A bride from the middle- or lower-classes would get married in her Sunday best. Accessories often included a bonnet or turban, although as the nineteenth century progressed, a veil became a more frequent choice.
Because a Regency-era bride’s dress would be worn on multiple occasions, the cherished keepsakes of the day were often the slippers she wore. Some brides would write down their impressions of the day, and then tuck her written memories into the shoes before packing them safely away.
What color dresses did Regency-era brides wear?
Dark colors, such as burgundy, brown and black were practical choices for less-wealthy women, who worried about their dresses showing dirt at the hem after repeated wearings. During the late 1700s red was a popular choice (Jane Austen’s mother, Cassandra Leigh, married Rev. George Austen wearing a red riding habit, which she wore on many occasions in the years that followed).
Pastels and shades of white were worn by middle and upper-class brides. However, white was the color of choice for most gowns at the time, and not just for bridal wear. Upper-class women during the Regency often wore ball gowns and wedding attire made of fine muslin, so delicate as to be almost transparent.
A guest at the 1803 wedding of Jerome Bonaparte (Napoleon’s 18-year-old brother) to Miss Elizabeth Patterson, a wealthy young American, complained that the bride’s dress “would fit easily into a gentleman’s pocket.”
“The dress was of muslin, richly embroidered, of extremely fine texture. Beneath it she wore but a single garment,” he said.
Elizabeth Patterson Bonaparte’s gown (Picture courtesy of the Met)
When Napoleon himself married Marie-Louise of Austria in 1810, she wore a white satin dress embroidered with leaves and Napoleonic bees in silver and gold.
Detail of painting by Francesco Giuseppe Casanova (1727-1802), ‘Mariage de Napoléon Ier et de Marie-Louise. 2 avril 1810 ; Banquet du mariage de Napoléon et de Marie-Louise dans la salle de spectacle des Tuileries’ (The marriage banquet of Napoleon I and Marie-Louise of Austria April 2, 1810).
Now at Musée National du Château Fontainebleau.
Pastels and primrose (yellow) were also popular during the early decades of the 1800s. Jane Austen’s niece Anna married Benjamin Lefroy in 1814. Her sister Caroline reported that Anna wore “a dress of fine white muslin, and over it a soft silk shawl, white shot with primrose, with embossed white-satin flowers, and very handsome fringe, and on her head a small cap to match, trimmed with lace.”
By far the most lavish wedding dress of the Regency era was that of Princess Charlotte of Wales, the only child of Princess Caroline of Brunswick, and George, Prince of Wales who later became King George IV.
Princess Charlotte married Prince Leopold in 1816, dressed in a sumptuous gown of silver:
Princess Charlotte’s silver wedding gown. Image @ Museum of London
Her fine fair hair, elegantly yet simply arranged, owed more to its natural beautiful wave than to the art of the friseur; it was crowned with a most superb wreath of brilliants, forming rosebuds with their leaves.
Her dress was silver lama [lamé] on net, over a silver tissue slip, embroidered at the bottom with silver lama in shells and flowers. Body and sleeves to correspond, elegantly trimmed with point Brussels lace. The manteau was of silver tissue lined with white satin, with a border of embroidery to answer that on the dress, and fastened in front with a splendid diamond ornament. Such was the bridal dress …
The jewellery of the royal bride is most superb; beside the wreath, are a diamond cestus, ear- rings, and an armlet of great value, with a superb set of pearls. The court dresses worn by the royal family and nobility on this occasion were particularly splendid; we are sorry our limits will not allow us to enter into particulars, but we cannot forbear noticing the singular taste and elegance, displayed in the superb lama dress, so beautifully wrought with silver lilies, of the Marchioness of Cholmondeley; we have never before witnessed so charming a combination of classical taste, splendour, and touching simplicity.
La Belle Assemblee (May 1816)
Possibly inspired by this creation, there is a print in Ackerman’s Repository of June 1816 that shows a wedding dress in white satin with an overdress of striped gauze and trimmed with Brussels lace.
Ackerman’s Repository, June 1816
So although many brides wore white during the Regency, it was not a color associated exclusively with weddings during that time. A bride wore her best dress – and in the highest strata of society, the “best” was spectacular.
WIN A FREE REGENCY ROMANCE!
Thank you for reading about Regency wedding dresses! Leave me a comment below, and you may win a free copy of my traditional Regency romance, A LIMITED ENGAGEMENT! I’ll select the lucky recepient on February 17th.
ENTER TO WIN THE GRAND PRIZE!
Here’s my question for the scavenger hunt: WHAT COLOR WEDDING DRESS DID PRINCESS CHARLOTTE WEAR?
Click on the Cotillion Authors Blog Tour & Scavenger Hunt page to fill in the answer, and you may continue on from there. The rules are listed below. Enjoy!
- Click on the Cotillion Authors Blog Tour & Scavenger Hunt page.
- Read the blog post and the author’s short answer question at the end. Locate the answer to the question, then click on the link to the Cotillion Authors Blog Tour & Scavenger Hunt page and type in the answer next to the author’s name. Be sure to fill in the your name and email address!
- You may go back to same page and read more of the author’s post (excerpt, etc.) or you may click on another author’s name on the answer sheet and repeat the process.
- When you are finished, check to make sure the spaces for your name and email address are filled in correctly, and submit your answer sheet to the tour coordinator . If you submit an incomplete answer sheet, you may come back later and make another submission with the remaining answers when you have more time.
- The Grand Prize for the Scavenger Hunt will be awarded to the participant with the most correct answers to the authors’ scavenger hunt questions. In case of a tie, the winner will be chosen randomly.
- The name of the Grand Prize winner will be posted on the Cotillion Authors Blog Tour & Scavenger Hunt page the following week.
- Any questions about the scavenger hunt should be directed to the tour coordinator .