Three different types of bridal dress are worn by members of the middle classes who change their name in church. The best known is that of the spinster who essays marriage for the first time, and whose nuptial array is of the ordinary character, white almost without relief, with veil and wreath and with or without Court train.
The second is travelling costume, chosen for a variety of reasons to be entered into in a later paragraph; and the third is the dress of the widow-bride.
In the working classes, including all such women as earn their own living, there are few, if any, of these distinctions. The bride wears the prettiest afternoon dress that her finance may permit her to acquire. In summer it will be white almost certainly, and the material chosen of a durable and useful character. In winter a "best" outdoor gown is favoured by the humbler of workers, and a hat replacing the veil is preferred by the better paid, the nursery governess, the shop assistant, the telegraph clerk, the "desk-girl" in business houses.
To begin with the upper and middle-class bride, she enjoys a much wider choice than was the case a few years ago, when white satin was practically a uniform of brides. Failing lace, bestowed or lent, the satin was scarcely trimmed, and only the long veil falling over it served to modify the lustre that made it such very unbecoming daylight wear.
But now there is open to all who can afford it a choice of ornament that is practically unlimited. Even fur is permitted, so long as it is pure white, such as tailless ermine, miniver without its spots, or pure white fox. Swansdown bordered the beautifully embroidered tunic of a recent bride, its softness contrasting effectively with the glitter of the "diamonded" tulle of which this overdress was composed.
The Wearing of Jewels
At one time it was denied to girl-brides to wear many jewels. They were regarded as unsuitable to youth. All that is changed, and wedding gowns are often nicely sewn with the cleverly imitated jewelling which simulates the precious stone itself. Even lace itself is sewn with these "brilliants," the bride of a prospective rajah wearing a Court train of antique lace illumined in this way with the sparkle of precious stones and arranged over silver tissue. The satin gown itself was embroidered with pearls, the whole forming regal wedding array.
The neck and sleeves of a lovely wedding gown in white satin were bordered with ermine, its soft whiteness contrasting charmingly with the mellow creamy tint of the old Irish guipure that trimmed the skirt.
Very becoming proved the picturesque Marie Stuart cap worn under a tulle veil and coronal of orange-blossoms by a bride of original ideas, whose ivory-satin gown was embroidered in floss silk and pearls. Another, whose industry rivalled the nimbleness of her ringers, wore an ivory-silk princess gown veiled with English point made entirely by herself. Her tulle veil was embroidered in a design of silk roses.
Another bridal veil was embroidered with sprays of jasmine and true-lover's knots. The two bridesmaids at this wedding wore pink satin embroidered with pearls. One of these was veiled with pale blue, the other with mauve ninon, a novel idea. A design of shamrocks and thistles in silks and pearls and brilliants on chiffon veiled the princess ivory satin of a Scottish bride who was marrying an Irishman.
White or cream silk cashmere is a very suitable material, and a popular one for brides who do not wish to wear anything so expensive as satin and so limited in its usefulness except for those who go out much in the evenings.
Brides who elect to be married in travelling dress often choose silk cashmere, white or in some becoming colour. It is usual to dis-pense with bridesmaids and pages when married in this less ceremonious costume, but sometimes there is a single bridesmaid. It is quite wrong for her to be attired more elaborately than the bride, but it sometimes happens. Should the bride be in white, her attendant ought to be in grey or mauve or beige.
A recent bride wore corduroy in a tone of dove-colour, and her bridesmaid was in amethyst satin and velvet. Quite unattended was a girl whose bridal garb was of grey chiffon velvet, much embroidered on the bodice, forming, with a large grey velvet hat and a set of costly sables, her travelling costume.
Caps or veils sometimes replace the usual hats worn by bridesmaids. Juliet caps are not in so much favour as they have been. Wreaths of green leaves were worn by the attendant maidens on one bride with gown of peacock blue and mauve shot ninon over pale blue satin.
A bride who entertained a strong dislike to having her wedding wholly white had poinsettias and red tulips introduced among the flowers that decorated the chancel. Her bridesmaids wore wreaths of holly and carried white fur muffs adorned with sprigs of holly. They also wore scarlet cloaks trimmed with white fur over their white satin gowns.
Wedding dresses are usually worn high in the neck, but there have been exceptions. A pretty little dark-haired bride wore a Josephine gown cut away in a small square below the throat. The opening was bordered with pearl and diamond embroidery, the rest of the gown trimmed with silken laurel leaves.
The smaller the page, the nicer he looks in his wedding suit. One of these little fellows wore a black silk Court suit, with black silk stockings, buckled shoes, and small sword complete. A novel feature at another wedding were two minute Cossacks in white cloth suits bordered with fur, and complete in every detail, even to the cartridge-cases made to scale. Two small cavaliers in crimson velvet suits looked picturesque, being still young enough to possess the "love-locks" without which the dress would look quite ridiculous.