October 22, 2016

{Victoria's Choice Redux}

Hello! I thought youd enjoy a reprint of my article, “Victorias Choice”....its been published in Season Magazine and on Huffington Post. (Plus its an excerpt from my latest book The End of the Fairy-Tale Bride: For Better or Worse, How Princess Diana Rescued the Great White Wedding.)

If you know one thing about wedding gown history, I would wager that it has something to do with Queen Victoria beginning the fashion for brides wearing white. (And now, thanks to her, it has been a tradition of sorts for 175 years.) But I would also wager that most people don’t know the real reason the 20-year-old monarch broke the precedent set by earlier royal brides—“dressed in their usual cloths of silver or gold”—and chose the color white for her wedding gown. Victoria even chose a crown of fanciful, yet wax orange blossoms instead of one of her dazzling diamond diadems!

Her choices have been regarded as representing simplicity, modesty and purity—and indeed the young queen was sentimental with an “uncluttered fashion preference,” according to costume historian Kay Staniland. However, Victoria was deeply in love, and this became her guiding inspiration for her wedding attire. Therefore, with much consideration—taking into account her duty, her position and her subjects—“the queen decided to make her marriage vows to her ‘precious Angel’ as his future wife rather than as the monarch,” wrote V & A museum curator Edwina Ehrman. So Victoria not only opted against wearing the ornate silver and gold of royalty, but also her regal “crimson velvet robe of state” feeling “it would only emphasize her seniority, and overshadow the role of her future husband,” Staniland added.

Victoria’s all-white bridal costume may have been without the usual glittering royal accoutrements, but it “was actually exquisite and of great value,” explained Maria McBride-Mellinger, author of The Wedding Dress. Underscoring “patriotic spending,” the queen commissioned her country’s renowned textile artisans. The rich silk satin for the gown and its 18-foot court train was woven in Spitalfields and the beautiful, lyrically-patterned lace for her veil and gown embellishments was hand made by two hundred women in a Devon village employed for eight months. The only color Victoria wore was near her heart: a large, brilliant blue sapphire brooch which had been Prince Albert’s wedding gift to her.

On the day of the wedding, Victoria’s adoring subjects happily received their queen’s choices, cheering her carriage on its way to the Chapel Royal at St. James’s Palace. Dressed in these creamy shades of white and tufts of orange blossom, I doubt that Victoria had a sense of the remarkably romantic lineage she was about to inaugurate. Nor could she ever know that her queenly exemplar: “Keep your relationship top priority,” would make fine advice for today’s busy wedding-planning brides. 

It seems for this young bride (who just happened to be ruler of an empire), that it came down to choosing the feelings of her future husband over her own ego. Victoria’s heart-centered choice changed bridal history and, in turn, illuminated the supreme sovereignty of a woman in love. ~

[Enjoy your own copy of The End of the Fairy-Tale Bride: For Better or Worse, How Princess Diana Rescued the Great White Wedding....easy to order from Amazon with a speedy delivery!] 

September 28, 2016

{Wedding Vows}

My article “Wedding Vows” just published in the fall issue of SEASON magazine! It shares how Princess Diana’s wedding in 1981 signaled changes in the world of weddings, including the promises a couple makes during their ceremony. (‘Tis based on excerpts from my book, The End of the Fairy-Tale Bride: For Better or Worse, How Princess Diana Rescued the Great White Wedding.) Enjoy!

Wedding Vows

 The bride’s entrance into the majesty of St. Paul’s was announced by a fanfare from trumpeters high inside the cathedral’s celebrated dome. Perhaps they were not only announcing a princess bride, but prophetically heralding in, for better or worse, a new era! Thirty-five years ago Lady Diana Spencer’s charismatic appeal as a bride, combined with the grand splendor of the British monarchy, resurrected the “great white wedding”—helped along with society’s need for order and tradition, a little Reaganomics, plus a dash of glam and glitter!

Or as author Maria McBride-Mellinger described changes following the royal wedding in 1981:  “After a decade of swinging singles and disco infernos, suddenly everyone wanted to be married and every bride wanted a gown fit for a queen: regal and ornate, with a lengthy train, and a jeweled veil. The big white wedding was back in style and no expense seemed too great.”Signaling another change of the times, the bride and groom made royal history that day with a break in tradition even before becoming husband and wife. Removing some outdated words from the Church of England’s 1662 version of the Book of Common Prayer, as the couple stood before the archbishop of Canterbury, and witnessed by nearly a million-fold television audience, the bride’s marriage vows did not include the promise “to obey.”
A London byline in The Washington Post a few days before the wedding reported that the archbishop of Canterbury revealed “the decision to drop this vow was made very quickly in his discussion of the service with Charles and Diana and that he told them, the usual clergyman’s joke. ‘It’s a bad thing to start your marriage off with a downright lie.’ He told reporters that many couples now omit the vow, which was a remnant from the Middle Ages, when a wife would pledge ‘to be bonny and buxom in bed and board.’”

I don’t doubt the archbishop’s knowledge of history regarding marriage vows including “to love, cherish and obey.” However, my understanding of the Latin meaning of the word “obey” as used in the old marriage text is “to hear, to deeply listen”—a promise that would be beneficial, even essential, to any marriage, no? If that’s the case, my only complaint with the original marriage vows is that the pledge “to obey” (i.e., “to listen”) was in the woman’s declaration but not in the man’s. Is the promise “to love and cherish” really possible without “deep listening”?

Some wedding “traditions”—royal or otherwise—are indeed outdated and need tossing aside; others are keepers in their own right. Then there are those traditions that simply need the wisdom of a woman’s touch! □

September 16, 2016

{The un-Fashion of Weddings}

When I worked at Vogue in the 1970s, you would have never seen a headline in the magazine like these that I’ve recently read online at Vogue Daily: “Dream Wedding Inspiration” or “The 41 Most Memorable Model Weddings” or “How To Surprise Your Groom on the Wedding Day” or “Is It Ever Okay to Tell A Bride You Don’t Like Her Dress?” or any number of Vogue’s image-rich reports of beautiful weddings and their fanciful designer gowns. Weddings were simply not fashionable news in the 1970s! (And if you’ve read my latest book, The End of the Fairy-Tale Bride, you’ll know why—plus learn lots of fascinating bits of bridal history!)

However, since the 1980s (since Lady Diana Spencer’s royal nuptials as well as Martha Stewart’s reinvention of entertaining) weddings have been back in the news—fashion, society, even business news! And the trend is even more ubiquitous today. Perhaps it’s part of our modern “media culture” and its penchant for broadcasting all things personal: our ‘need’ to be seen, to be known, to be in the spotlight—our selfie-ness.

If you’ve been involved in planning a wedding in the last three decades or so, then you’ve been part of this “fashion”—designer gowns, designer cakes, designer favors. Nonetheless, ‘tis important to remember that weddings are about relationships. So in an attempt to be “fashionable,” let’s not forget the things that never go out of fashion! Like kindness. As the Persian poet Rumi shared long ago: “Your acts of kindness are iridescent wings.” (Très chic!) ~

[Photograph courtesy of Vogue Daily]

August 14, 2016

{The Promise of Wedding Vows}

My article, “The Promise of Wedding Vows”—highlighting the 35th anniversary of the momentous wedding of Princess Diana—was just published on Huffington PostThis royal event not only changed the culture of weddings worldwide, but also came at the time when the world of women was in a great consciousness shift. 
Plus, the article is an excerpt from my latest book, The End of the Fairy-Tale Bride {Volume One} For Better or Worse, How Princess Diana Rescued the Great White Wedding.

Enjoy! Here’s the link.