Friday, October 14, 2011

For Better or For Worse.

My family is celebrating a wedding this weekend. No, it isn’t mine. I’ve been happily married for some time. However, I must admit that when I accompanied the bride-to-be to David’s Bridal, I almost tried on the Kate Middleton wedding gown replica. Despite my enthusiasm for royalty, Reader, I resisted.

In honor of this momentous family occasion, I present you with some fun historic wedding trivia.

Let’s begin at the beginning.
The word wedding, according to Women in the Middle Ages by Frances and Joseph Gies, originated from the Old English word wed, which meant pledge and referred to the ring and money a groom gave to his bride at the church door.

How do I love thee? Let me beat it into you.
One notable historic proposal is William the Conqueror’s proposal to Matilda of Flanders. He approached her father, Baldwin V about the marriage and Baldwin readily agreed. When someone finally told Matilda about it, she said “No.” Not a man to let little things like being a bastard or “no” stop him, William rode to Flanders. He intercepted Matilda on the way to church, pulled her from her horse and, according to some sources, beat her. Amazingly, after this oh so romantic proposal, she agreed to marry him. Bruises heal, but a diamond is forever.

Speaking of diamonds.
The Krupp Diamond, weighing in at a whopping 33.19 carats, was purchased by Richard Burton for Elizabeth Taylor in 1968. It was her favorite ring and the most valuable one in her collection. For a mere $2 – 3 million you can own it too when Christie’s auctions it off in December.

If anyone has just cause why these two people should not be married…
After the invention of the telegraph, distance became no barrier to marriage and the first “on-line” weddings were performed.  In 1876, William Storey was a telegraph operator stationed at the remote Camp Grant in Arizona where there were no ministers. His bride, Clara Choate lived in San Diego where there were plenty of ministers to perform the wedding service.  Unfortunately, William could not get a leave of absence to travel to America’s Finest City. His solution? Bring the bride to Camp Grant and have a minister in San Diego marry them over the telegraph. The plan worked, with the minister reading the vows which were transmitted by telegraph to the bride and groom who wired back their responses. The wedding was legal and the technologically advanced couple lived happily ever after.

Remembering the big day or Photoshop the Bonaparte way.
Napoleon’s mother, Maria Letizia refused to attend the coronation of Napoleon and Josephine due to her dislike of the future empress. As a result, when Jacques-Louis David created his massive painting to commemorate the day, he simply added the old gal in. Although not strictly a wedding, a marriage did take place in the early hours of the coronation day. Napoleon and Josephine had originally been married in a civil ceremony that was not recognized by the Catholic Church, thus preventing her from being crowned alongside Napoleon. To sidestep this problem, a second religious ceremony was performed in the wee hours of the coronation day. My guess is, Napoleon’s mother didn’t attend that ceremony either.

And don’t forget, if at first you don’t succeed…
One can’t discuss historic weddings without mentioning Henry VIII. The eternal optimist, he married six times but only two of his wives were lucky enough to outlive him. His last wife, Catherine Parr mourned her chubby hubby for only a few months before marrying Thomas Seymour, the man she’d been forced to give up for the King. Thomas was her fourth husband.  Here’s to never giving up on love!


Alyssa Everett said...

What a fun and informative post! I love the story of the couple who married by telegraph.

Grace Elliot said...

Love the idea of painting in absentee guests at a wedding!
Grace x

Wendy Soliman said...

Yes, the telegraph bit interested me, too. Great post!

Lilly Gayle said...

Love this post. Fun facts and some ideas for a historical romance. And let's not forget all the fun we can have with a wedding by proxy!

Janet Tait said...

Fun post! I love the bit about Napoleon's mother. Lots of great ideas to spark a story here. Thanks so much for the post.

R. Ann Siracusa said...

I liked the painted-in guest, too. In that time period, that kind of thing wasn't uncommon. These are great stories.

Julie Glover said...

This post was fascinating. Great information.

I have a gift book that someone gave to me when I was getting married, and according to it, Winston Churchill said, "My most brilliant achievement was to be able to persuade my wife to marry me." Now there's a hubby with priorities.

Georgie Lee said...

Hi everyone. Thanks for stopping by to check out the post. I'm glad everyone enjoyed the history tidbits.

Julie, Winston Churchill was a great man, his quote proves it.