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(Hi)Story Book Weddings: President Cleveland

Posted on November 30th, 2007 by Amber in Celebrity Weddings, Funny, Wedding History 2 Comments

Cleveland’s WeddingWhile you’re racing around town investigating venues and gasping at price tags, you might occasionally wish you could just have the wedding in your own living room. That is, if you had a really nice living room – maybe with some colonial columns and a butler. One of the perks of being president of the United States, in addition to the staff of thousands, is a really nice set-up for events. Too bad you have to spend most of your time ruling the free world. But running for president so you can stop haggling with groundskeepers over the dahlias is not the most time efficient strategy. And, as it happens, only one sitting president has ever been married in the White House.

Grover Cleveland was a confirmed bachelor with a pronounced walrus mustache and a crush on a woman 27 years his junior. But having “Commander in Chief” on your business cards really woos the ladies, so Cleveland got the girl. He married his lovely young ward, Frances Folsom, at the White House in 1886.

When the media learned that Frances was Cleveland’s intended, she became a target for the ever-persistent muckrakers. Cleveland took great mustachioed glee in banning journalists from the wedding, an elegant affair featuring festoons of flowers and John Philip Sousa leading the Marine Band. Only family, close friends, and cabinet officers were invited – and none gave the panting reporters any juicy tidbits for publication. In a final taunt, Cleveland sent two wedding guests from the ceremony in the presidential carriage. As the media dashed off frantically behind the galloping horses, he and Frances left the White House at their leisure for a honeymoon.

Frances, Cleveland, and his mustache lived happily-ever-after.

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History of the White Wedding Dress

Posted on November 28th, 2007 by Amber in Wedding Attire, Wedding Etiquette, Wedding History, Wedding Traditions 2 Comments

queen victoriaYou’ve dreamed about your pale confection since your favorite Barbie doll zoomed through the kitchen in her pink Malibu convertible. You chose the sleeves by third grade, the train length by fifth, and the groom by sixth (that one didn’t work out). But have you ever parsed out why you want a white wedding dress with seventeen layers?

It’s because of Queen Victoria. Yes, she who reigned during one of the most prudish eras in history. She who allegedly proclaimed “Lie back and think of England” during the marital duty. This might lead you to the natural conclusion that Queen Victoria wore white to her wedding in 1840 to demonstrate her purity and blushing innocence. Actually, she wore white to show that she was really, really rich. White was highly impractical in the 19th century. Few women could afford a dress they would wear only once, and the likelihood of dripping wedding supper roast fowl on a white bodice was high.

Women continued to wear more somber shades after Queen Victoria donned her white gown, but the domination of white had attached its grasping claws to the collective minds of the marriage-minded public. When the Industrial Revolution brought on the rise of the middle class, giving women more money and spare time, white started to bloom again. In 1890, Ladies Home Journal set their stamp of approval on the white wedding dress with a heartfelt but inaccurate “From time immemorial, the bride’s gown has been white.”

Cementing the trend was Coco Chanel who created the first short wedding dress in the 1920s. In white. Thanks to the vagaries of history and economics, you no longer need to be royalty to afford a white wedding dress. Just have a sturdy Visa card.

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