August 31, 2015

"Princesses, Heiresses and Weddings" - Book Excerpt


I thought youd enjoy my article published in the summer issue of Season Magazine. Click here to read it from the online magazine...and Ive reprinted it below. ’Tis an excerpt from my new book The End of the Fairy-Tale Bride {Volume One} For Better or Worse, How Princess Diana Rescued the Great White Wedding.




Princesses, Heiresses and Weddings

“We knew that we wanted Diana to have a large bouquet,” explained her gown designers David and Elizabeth Emanuel. “The scale of the dress meant that a small one would have simply disappeared.” With the universal appeal of Princess Diana’s shimmering wedding in the summer of 1981, over-sized, shower-style bridal bouquets became the fashion. (Of course, most things in the glitzy, high-flying ‘80s were on a grander scale!)

Almost a hundred years earlier, Princess May of Teck (who became Queen Mary, Prince Charles’ great-grandmother), started a similar trend when she carried a huge, cascading bouquet for her 1893 wedding to the future King George V. It was called “a modern touch” because its “shape had only recently ousted the posy,” shared historian Ann Monsarrat. The 19th century English journal Manners for Women attributed this “extravagant fashion to the influx of heiresses from the New World into British society through marriage.” These were daughters of the nouveau riche of the Gilded Age who took their fathers’ immense wealth abroad between the 1870s and early1920s to marry cash-strapped noblemen, like the character of Cora Crawley on Downton Abbey. They not only rescued a way of life for the British aristocracy—at least for a few years—but also lent their opulent taste to wedding celebrations.

Charles Frederick Worth, an Englishman who set up shop in Paris, became the father of modern couture—and a favorite designer of these rich American girls who in turn became famous for their expensive Worth wardrobes and diamond tiaras. They spent thousands every season at his salon and when the time came, ordered a dazzling wedding gown and fancy trousseau. Consuelo Vanderbilt, Jennie Jerome and Frances Ellen Work (Princess Diana’s maternal great-grandmother) were three of those nearly 500 heiresses from America who put their glittering mark on weddings.

During this time most British princess brides followed Queen Victoria’s lead and, instead of wearing one of the many diamond tiaras at their disposal, opted for the more sentimental choice of an elaborate, yet rather humble, bridal crown made of wax orange blossoms. However, many of the American heiress brides, more into opulence than sentiment, wore diamond tiaras—usually a gift from their father. 

Perhaps to make a proclamation all their own, several Windsor brides of the 20th century (namely Princesses Marina, Elizabeth, Margaret and Anne) also broke with the orange blossom tradition and chose diamonds for their hair—large, old, spectacular ones. So for her wedding, Lady Diana followed suit by wearing the Spencer family tiara: a whimsical floral design in gold, silver and heirloom diamonds. (And as far as I could tell, there was not an orange blossom in sight!)

Weddings have always been a time to dress up, make a statement and dress like a princess. As author Carol McD. Wallace shared: “If a wedding isn’t the ultimate chance to show off, what exactly is it?” ~

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