Sep 24 2012 2:00pm

Author Valerie Bowman on Regency Weddings

Secrets of a Wedding Night by Valerie BowmanToday, we're thrilled to have Author Valerie Bowman (and regular H&H contributor!) at Heroes and Heartbreakers. Valerie's Secrets of a Wedding Night is released tomorrow, and is a delicious Regency-set historical which author Lisa Kleypas says is “too delightful to miss.” Thanks for joining us, Valerie!

Since my debut Regency romance novel, Secrets of a Wedding Night, has a lot of mentions of weddings, what better topic to discuss on H&H today than the fascinating subject of Regency weddings?

Unfortunately, weddings during the Regency were not always the grand affairs we have today. Instead, they were (by law) performed in the morning and usually only the family and very close friends of the bride and groom were in attendance. Often the bride simply wore her best dress, though Princess Charlotte wore a grand concoction of silver (see picture below). White was popular, but apparently so was blue. Veils made a comeback in this period as well and long white kid gloves were essential.

Princess Charlotte’s wedding gownThere were no invitations sent, just letters penned to friends and family who needed to know and might want to attend. Though usually (unless the wedding was a grand affair like Princess Charlotte’s wedding to Prince Leopold) the letter was more informational than invitational.

Yes, there were rings, but they were usually family heirlooms and not the oft-flashy engagement rings of present day.

There were bridesmaids and attendants and like today, they were usually the sisters or close friends of the bride, but they too, merely wore their best dress though they might have had flowers weaved into their coiffures for the special occasion.

Princess Charlotte’s Regency weddingAs for the gentlemen, they wore their best togs too and asked their brothers or close male friends to stand with them. A Regency buck on his wedding day might wear a white waistcoat, a dark-colored double-breasted coat, a fine cravat (of course) and pantaloons fashioned from a very fine fabric like cashmere. His shoes were “court shoes” or high-throated pumps with curved heels and side pieces that tied or buckled elaborately at the throat. (Yes, unfortunately, they were called pumps. Boots seem much hotter but alas, not at a wedding.) The groom would also be sure to have his hat, possibly made from beaver.

An 1816 wedding gownIn many cases there was dancing at Regency weddings, though I wonder how rowdy it got since it was often done in the morning. Though some parties (what we’d refer to today as the reception) were held later in the evening following an afternoon break. Some couples merely had wedding breakfasts immediately following the ceremony, however, and called it a day. They were eager to get the honeymoon show on the road. And who could blame them?

The good news? There was cake! Yes, the wedding cake is apparently a tradition passed down from an old medieval tradition of breaking little wheat cakes over the heads of the bride and groom. Apparently, this was a sign of good fortune and fertility. Today, we throw rice! At some point, someone got the idea to make the cake bigger, taste better, and frost the thing. Thank you previous generations! Though I’ve also read that the Regency wedding cakes may have been what we think of as fruitcake. Ooh, I hope not.

The church sceneAnd check this out? As the couple left the church, apparently the Regency tradition was to throw shoes at them. Yes, really.  Why? For luck, of course. Luck seems to have been extremely important. I have read that a Wednesday in June was considered the luckiest day to marry.  And that Friday was considered an unlucky day.

I happen to be engaged and am currently planning my own wedding. Not sure which, if any, of the Regency wedding conventions, I will follow. But I do hope no one throws a shoe.


For more information or to purchase Valerie Bowman's Secrets of a Wedding Night:

Buy Secrets of a Wedding Night at Barnes and NobleBuy Secrets of a Wedding Night at AmazonBuy Secrets of a Wedding Night at iTunes



Valerie Bowman writes Regency-set historical romance novels with a focus on sharp dialogue, engaging storylines, and heroines who take matters into their own hands! Publishers Weeklycalls Secrets of a Wedding Night, an “enchanting, engaging debut that will have readers seeking future installments” and Romantic Times Book Reviews says, “This fast-paced, charming debut, sparkling with witty dialogue and engaging characters, marks Bowman for stardom.” And Booklistgave it a starred review!You can find Valerie on the web at and on Facebook and Twitter.

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Heather Waters
1. HeatherWaters
I am such a sucker for anything to do with the Royals, so I got a kick out of all the examples from Princess Charlotte's wedding that you used. And more generally, I am just fascinated by Regency fashions, so this was a really fun read. Thank you!
Laura Hunsaker
2. Laura Hunsaker
great post! I too, hope no one throws a shoe ;)
Laura Hunsaker
3. Ella Quinn
Loved your post, Valerie. Good to know about the shoes. Don't feel too bad about the fruitcake, in England and Europe it's not the dreadful stuff we get in the States.
Valerie Bowman
4. ValerieBowman
@redline I was totally up at the crack o' dawn to watch Prince William marry Duchess Kate. Swoon! When I was a little kid I also watched Prince Charles and Lady Diana get married in the wee hours. Hey, they still get married in the morning, don't they?

@Laura Hunsaker I can do without the shoe throwing but there will be cake. Oh yes, there will be cake!
Valerie Bowman
5. ValerieBowman
Well, I'm glad to hear that at least, Ella. Thanks for stopping by!
Laura Hunsaker
6. Linda Avellar
How fascinating that so many customs, like cake and wedding rings, have come down to us. I'm glad we don't throw shoes anymore! Great post Valerie!
Laura Hunsaker
8. Kat Sheridan
Perhaps you could simply have them fling shoe-shaped confetti at you? (Yes, they DO make shoe-shaped confetti).
Laura Hunsaker
9. Ashlyn Macnamara
I think fruitcake might still make an appearance at English weddings. I have a UK-published cookbook with a wedding cake recipe. Yes, it is fruitcake, but not, seemingly, as dense as those doorstops we all get at Christmas.
12. RobinRBL
I am so excited about your new book! It has been the most excited I've been for a new book in quite a while. Can't wait.
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