Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Unusual Artifacts: Wedding Favors, 1854

Click image to enlarge.
Wedding Favors
England, c. 1854
The Victoria & Albert Museum

The tradition of handing out wedding favors, especially to those who participated in the wedding party, goes back centuries. The origin of this custom is difficult to trace as it is not unique to any one culture.

Some of the most famous wedding favors are those which were presented at the 1840 marriage of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. “The Times” reported that white favors were given out at the lavish nuptials:

Every lady exhibited a white favour, some of which were admirable specimens of refined taste. They were of all sizes, many of white satin riband, tied up into bows and mixed with layers of rich silver lace. Others merely of riband intermixed with sprigs of orange flower blossom.

While the custom of orange blossoms at a wedding pre-dates Victoria’s wedding considerably and actually arose in Asia, the interest in the blooms was rejuvenated after that Royal wedding. After witnessing the gorgeous orange blossoms at Queen Victoria’s wedding, many brides wished to have similar favors and turned to more permanent imitation blossoms.

Take, for example, this pair of wedding favor froms an 1854 union. The orange blossoms on these favors are made of cloth and feature silvered paper leaves and trimmings of cream silk satin ribbon. These items are associated with the wedding of Elizabeth Wroughton Richards to the Reverend Andrew Nugee on August 8, 1854.

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