I came across this scene depicting a wedding ceremony in the eighteenth century and it reminded me of the various times Richard Hall mentions weddings – both his own, his friends, and his family. Nowhere does he say anything helpful – like what the bride wore – but he rarely forgot to mention the weather….
I am aware that there was no set idea that the bride must wear white – and for servants there was never any question of having a dress that could only be worn on one occasion.
But it is interesting to see how many of the paintings of weddings of the time do show the bride in an ivory coloured satin concoction. Take the painting by artist Joseph Highmore used to illustrate to Pamela’s Wedding – one of four scenes from Samuel Richardson’s ‘Pamela’.
The picture appears courtesy of Tate Britain, and the explanation with it states “On Pamela’s left is her humble but dignified father, who gives her away. In the background, behind the groom, is the housekeeper Mrs Jewkes, now also a reformed character. She grasps a bottle of smelling salts in case she is overwhelmed with emotion.”
Next up, a rather splendid wedding dress from around 1775 and which appears on the V&A site- now that really is a statement dress! Talk about tassels and bows….Pippa Middleton eat your heart out
However popular ivory may have been, some of the single colour dresses were rather special, none more so than this American wedding dress from 1776 which appears on the Metropolitan Museum site.
The last picture I wanted to include is one I have used in various talks ,but for the life of me cannot remember where I first saw it. I like to think it is a fair representation of what Richard Hall would have looked like when he married a wealthy heiress in 1754:
And to end with, a couple of caricatures from the Lewis Walpole site on the topic of weddings, both entitled “Three weeks after marriage”. The first appeared in 1786 and is by Inigo Barlow:
The second appeared in 1822 and is by J L Marks. Cynics, the pair of them!