T is good manners to arrive before the bride, and for a bridesmaid to be late is almost unpardonable. The best-looking young men of the two families show the guests into their places, asking them at the church door whether they are friends of bride or bridegroom, and placing them accordingly - on the left or on the right side of the aisle - taking care to reserve the three front pews for immediate relatives or any distinguished guests. It is not always quite young men who are chosen for this office; once Lord Charles Beresford undertook this duty, in his own genial way, at the marriage of the then Marquis of Waterford, his nephew. It must be remembered that no congratumarriage lations should be offered to the newly married pair in church. It is quite permissible to do so in the vestry, but not in the sacred building. Bride and bridegroom should walk down the aisle without being interrupted. In a previous article the order in which the relatives follow is given in detail.
On the rare occasions when a mother gives her daughter away, the father being absent from reasons of illness or other causes, it is unusual for her to walk up the aisle with her daughter. Some male relative of the family takes this duty upon himself. The mother sits in the front seat at the extreme end next the door, and directly her daughter arrives at the altar, the mother steps out and stands a little behind her on her left. When she has performed her duty by saying the necessary words, she remains for a moment or two, and then quietly resumes her seat. In cases of the kind the bride drives to the church with her mother.
After the ceremony there is a general loosening of the bonds of etiquette. For instance, if the bridesmaids have parents among the congregation they may drive with them to the house; it is entirely a matter of choice.
The ritual of the wedding-cake has been fully explained in a previous article. After it has been cut, and the bride has gone to change her gown, the guests frequently troop into the hall or on the balcony to see the happy pair depart. It is good manners to leave sufficient room for the parents and immediate relatives to join the group.
There are very few rules of etiquette for weddings at registry offices. The bride and bridegroom very often drive up together, and other formalities are generally dispensed with. There are no bridesmaids, no pages, no bouquets, no favours, and, occasionally, no parents. There is not room in the ordinary registry office for more than half a dozen people, and in the circumstances they are most carefully selected. The ceremony consists of a few words on either side, and then the party adjourns to a hotel, or a restaurant, or the house of one of the parents, and the ceremony is at an end.
. A widow can be married from her own house, and can send out her invitations in her own name without traversing any law of etiquette, but she very often prefers to be married from the house of a friend or a relative, an uncle or aunt; and, in that case, the invitations are sent out in the name of the host or hostess, and would run as follows:
Requests the pleasure of
Company at the Marriage
Of his Niece,
Mrs. Robert Greene,
Mr. Arthur Dunne,
At St. Paul's, Knightsbridgc,
On Dec. 2nd, at 2.30.
And afterwards at - Eaton Square.
A widow has neither bridesmaids nor pages. She is allowed a wedding-cake, and has often a very large number of presents. Members of her first husband's family join with the rest of her friends in sending tokens of their good wishes.
The religious ceremony in marriage at a Consulate is the same as in church, but there is seldom any address given to the bride and bridegroom. Only the immediate relatives are invited on these occasions to witness the ceremony, as there would probably be considerable, inconvenience incurred by having a number of guests. Invitations are for the reception only, should there be one, but it is not unusual for the bride to wear travelling dress and drive direct from the Consulate to a railway station or boat.
When a bride, whether spinster or widow, is married in travelling-costume, the bridesmaids or matron of honour wear afternoon outdoor dress, the bridegroom a travelling suit. Many couples prefer a wedding of this kind, and find some pretext for it, as it avoids the elaborate and fatiguing reception and sometimes tiring congratulations of troops of friends and acquaintances.
There is a happy medium in the pace at which the bridal procession advances to the altar. It need not be a race, nor should it be funereally slow. Some brides have to hold their fathers back, and others have to urge them on. No bride wishes to appear in a desperate hurry to be married, yet none desires the ordeal of marching up the aisle to be any longer than necessary. At the marriage of the daughter of a well-known actor, some years ago, he led the pace as though he were fox-hunting, and rushed the bride from church-door to chancel, where she arrived in a gasping condition, her bridesmaids panting behind her. At another wedding the pace was so slow that the choirboys' hymn did not last out, and the lads began to titter. Both extremes are to be avoided.
In her " Under Five Reigns," Lady Dorothy Nevill says that the custom of throwing an old shoe is said to have originated from an occurrence at the marriage of John Churchill, the great Duke of Marlborough. On his wedding-day an angry aunt threw her old slippers at him. His great good fortune was attributed by some to this. Consequently the practice was followed, and by degrees became a custom.