An era synonymous with great strides in invention, new ideas about art, music and fashion, and of course the great woman herself, Queen Victoria, Britain’s longest reigning monarch. The Victorian themed wedding has never waned in popularity, whether you have a bit of Victorian Gothic in mind, or you’re after recreating a royal extravaganza, the Victorian era has something for every bridegroom to pick from. Of course this was the age when weddings started to become big business, with everyone from royalty to industrialist tycoons splashing a hefty amount of money on their nuptials. These were decadent and fantastical affairs, unabashedly extravagant in their execution. So, keeping that in mind, here are a few awesome Victorian-inspired ideas.
For a venue, the majestic Clearwell Castle, built in a dreamlike Gothic style and nestled in the ancient Forest of Dean, is perfect. The grounds are reminiscent of something from a Jane Austen novel, naturally beautiful. With 15 bedrooms and a ballroom to host you and your guests, your wedding will not be forgotten anytime soon.
So, with the venue secured, it’s time to define the look you want to go for. There are several ways, going the full, historical route or, as the majority do, pepper the Victorian wedding with myriad contemporary twists. In The Knot, Allison Micarelli writes about the look to go for – “Dressing the part is the most fun aspect of the wedding. Victorian gowns were so extravagant that you’ll feel like the queen herself underneath the many layers of ruffles, lace, and accessories. Since Queen Victoria’s wedding, white has remained the traditional color for wedding gowns, so you won’t have to search far for vintage colors. The Victorians considered the hourglass shape to best flatter the female form, and women were forced to wear restrictive corsets to achieve this ideal shape. You can practice sitting and eating with more modern-day corset tops. The early Victorians (1850) wore gowns with fitted bodices, small waists, and full skirts falling over hoops and petticoats. The late Victorian (1890) bridal gowns (which were made of organdy, tulle, lace, silk, linen, even cashmere) saw the transformation from puffy mutton-leg sleeves to fitted sleeves, and eventually, to bell sleeves, and also from crinoline to bustled skirts. Needless to say, however the styles changed, they were always big, bold, and beautiful.”
If you’re going for the big and bold wedding dress, in true Victorian style, make sure to focus the attention on the elaborate wedding ring you should go for.
For the groom’s style, if you take a look at general wedding attire, you’ll notice it’s not really changed that much over the years. A finely tailored frock coat, silk cravat and top hat will more than suffice for the theme. As for your bridesmaids, something long flowing, ruffled, yet a few notches down in terms of boldness will be ideal. Many of the paintings and photos of Victorian weddings show that bridesmaids dressed almost identical to the bride, yet far more aesthetically subdued.
Vintage Feminine Decor
A Victorian wedding is all about good old-fashioned femininity and gentility, woven into every aspect of your decor. Mixing luxury with a certain degree of eclecticism, which is typically Victorian. Try having an array of elegant flowers in silver and crystal vases along your tables, then in a more restrained manner, have your condiments in simple jam jars. Clare Gould of English Wedding sourced a superb inspiration photo-shoot, by stylist Petra Opperman, who stylised a shoot based on the theme.
Gould writes – “The style draws inspiration from nature, geometry, symbolism and nostalgia. The early years of the Victorian era were described as romantic or sentimental and reflected the youth, courtship and marriage of the young queen, Victoria. Restraint was not part of Victorian decorating and in the hands of the group of skilful and talented wedding suppliers a refined, sophisticated, complex and warmly romantic atmosphere is created. Using elements of Victorian design, art and literature.”
Now you have the idea, it’s to go out and search for the inspiration, a trip to the Victoria and Albert Museum, with its vast collection of art and textiles is a good place to start.