The Going Away Dress

The Going-away Dress

Emily Post

A bride necessarily chooses her going-away dress according to the journey she is to make. If she is starting off in an open motor, she wears a suitably small motor hat and a wrap of some sort over whatever dress (or suit) she chooses. If she is going on a train or boat, she wears a "traveling" dress, such as she would choose under ordinary circumstances. If she is going to a nearby hotel or a country house put at her disposal, she wears the sort of dress and hat suitable to town or country occasion. She should not dress as though about to join a circus parade or the ornaments on a Christmas tree, unless she wants to be stared at and commented upon in a way that no one of good breeding can endure.

The average bride and groom of good taste and feeling try to be as inconspicuous as possible. On one occasion, in order to hide the fact that they were "bride and groom," a young couple "went away" in their oldest clothes and were very much pleased with their cleverness, until, pulling out his handkerchief, the groom scattered rice all over the floor of the parlor car. The bride's lament after this was—"Why had she not worn her prettiest things?"

The groom, having changed his clothes, waits up-stairs, in the hall generally, until the bride emerges from her room in her traveling clothes. All the ushers shake hands with them both. His immediate family, as well as hers, have gradually collected—any that are missing must unfailingly be sent for. The bride's mother gives her a last kiss, her bridesmaids hurry downstairs to have plenty of rice ready and to tell everyone below as they descend "They are coming!" A passage from the stairway and out of the front door, all the way to the motor, is left free between two rows of eager guests, their hands full of rice. Upon the waiting motor the ushers have tied everything they can lay their hands on in the way of white ribbons and shoes and slippers.

Emily on Wedding Conversation

WEDDING CONVERSATION, Emily Post (1873–1960).  Etiquette.  1922.


  What you should say in congratulating a bridal couple depends on how well you know one, or both of them. But remember it is a breach of good manners to congratulate a bride on having secured a husband.  80

  If you are unknown to both of them, and in a long queue, it is not even necessary to give your name. You merely shake hands with the groom, say a formal word or two such as “Congratulations!”; shake hands with the bride, say “I wish you every happiness!” and pass on.  81

  If you know them fairly well, you may say to him “I hope your good luck will stay with you always!” or “I certainly do congratulate you!” and to her “I hope your whole life will be one long happiness,” or, if you are much older than she, “You look too lovely, dear Mary, and I hope you will always be as radiant as you look to-day!” Or, if you are a woman and a relative or really close friend, you kiss the groom, saying, “All the luck in the world to you, dear Jim, she certainly is lovely!” Or, kissing the bride, “Mary, darling, every good wish in the world to you!”  82

  To all the above, the groom and bride answer merely “Thank you.”  83

  A man might say to the groom “Good luck to you, Jim, old man!” Or, “She is the most lovely thing I have ever seen!” And to her, “I hope you will have every happiness!” Or “I was just telling Jim how lucky I think he is! I hope you will both be very happy!” Or, if a very close friend, also kissing the bride, “All the happiness you can think of isn’t as much as I wish you, Mary dear!” But it cannot be too much emphasized that promiscuous kissing among the guests is an offense against good taste.  84

  To a relative, or old friend of the bride, but possibly a stranger to the groom, the bride always introduces her husband saying, “Jim, this is Aunt Kate!” Or, “Mrs. Neighbor, you know Jim, don’t you?” Or formally, “Mrs. Faraway, may I present my husband?”  85

  The groom on the approach of an old friend of his, says, “Mary, this is cousin Carrie.” Or, “Mrs. Denver, do you know Mary?” Or, “Hello, Steve, let me introduce you to my wife; Mary, this is Steve Michigan.” Steve says “How do you do, Mrs. Smartlington!” And Mary says, “Of course, I have often heard Jim speak of you!”  86

  The bride with a good memory thanks each arriving person for the gift sent her: “Thank you so much for the lovely candlesticks,” or “I can’t tell you how much I love the dishes!” The person who is thanked says, “I am so glad you like it (or them),” or “I am so glad! I hoped you might find it useful.” Or “I didn’t have it marked, so that in case you have a duplicate, you can change it.”  87

  Conversation is never a fixed grouping of words that are learned or recited like a part in a play; the above examples are given more to indicate the sort of things people in good society usually say. There is, however, one rule: Do not launch into long conversation or details of yourself, how you feel or look or what happened to you, or what you wore when you were married! Your subject must not deviate from the young couple themselves, their wedding, their future.  88

  Also be brief in order not to keep those behind waiting longer than necessary. If you have anything particular to tell them, you can return later when there is no longer a line. But even then, long conversation, especially concerning yourself, is out of place.  89

Emily's Thoughts on Bridesmaids

What The Bridesmaids Wear

The costumes of the bridesmaids, slippers, stockings, dresses, bouquets, gloves and hats, are selected by the bride, without considering or even consulting them as to their taste or preferences. The bridesmaids are always dressed exactly alike as to texture of materials and model of making, but sometimes their dresses differ in color. For instance, two of them may wear pale blue satin slips covered with blue chiffon and cream lace fichus, and cream-colored "picture" hats trimmed with orchids. The next two wear orchid dresses, cream fichus, and cream hats trimmed with pale blue hydrangeas. The maid of honor likewise wears the same model, but her dress is pink chiffon over pink satin and her cream hat is trimmed with both orchids and hydrangeas. The bouquets would all be alike of orchids and hydrangeas. Their gloves all alike of cream-colored suede, and their slippers, blue, orchid, and pink, with stockings to match. Usually the bridesmaids are all alike in color as well as outline, and the maid of honor exactly the same but in reverse colors. Supposing the bridesmaids to wear pink dresses with blue sashes and pink hats trimmed in blue, and their bouquets are of larkspur—the maid of honor wears the same dress in blue, with pink sash, blue hat trimmed with pink, and carries pink roses.

At Lucy Gilding's wedding, her bridesmaids were dressed in deep shades of burnt orange and yellow, wood-colored slippers and stockings, skirts that shaded from brown through orange to yellow; yellow leghorn hats trimmed with jonquils, and jonquil bouquets. The maid of honor wore yellow running into cream, and her hat, the of the same shape of leghorn, was trimmed with cream feathers, and she carried a huge cream feather fan.

As in the case of the wedding dress, it is foolish to enter into descriptions of clothes more than to indicate that they are of light and fragile materials, more suitable to evening than to daytime. Flower girls and pages are dressed in quaint old-fashioned dresses and suits of satin with odd old-fashioned bonnets—or whatever the bride fancies as being especially "picturesque."

If a bridesmaid is in mourning, she wears colors on that one day, as bridesmaids' dresses are looked upon as uniforms, not individual costumes. Nor does she put a black band on her arm. A young girl in deepest mourning should not be a bridesmaid—unless at the very private wedding of a bride or groom also in mourning. In this case she would most likely be the only attendant and wear all white.

As a warning against the growing habit of artifice, it may not be out of place to quote one commentary made by a man of great distinction who, having seen nothing of the society of very young people for many years, "had to go" to the wedding of a niece. It was one of the biggest weddings of the spring season in New York. The flowers were wonderful, the bridesmaids were many and beautiful, the bride lovely. Afterwards the family talked long about the wedding, but the distinguished uncle said nothing. Finally, he was asked point blank: "Don't you think the wedding was too lovely? Weren't the bridesmaids beautiful?"

"No," said the uncle, "I did not think it was lovely at all. Every one of the bridesmaids was so powdered and painted that there was not a sweet or fresh face among them—I can see a procession just like them any evening on the musical comedy stage! One expects make-up in a theater, but in the house of God it is shocking!"

It is unnecessary to add—if youth, the most beautiful thing in the world, would only appreciate how beautiful it is, and how opposite is the false bloom that comes in boxes and bottles! Shiny noses, colorless lips, sallow skins hide as best they may, and with some excuse, behind powder or lip-stick; but to rouge a rose—!

The Cost Of Being A Bridesmaid

With the exception of parasols, or muffs or fans, which are occasionally carried in place of bouquets and presented by the bride, every article worn by the bridesmaids, flower girls or pages, although chosen by the bride, must be paid for by the wearers.

It is perhaps an irrefutable condemnation of the modern wedding display that many a young girl has had to refuse the joy of being in the wedding party because a complete bridesmaid outfit costs a sum that parents of moderate means are quite unable to meet for popular daughters. And it is seldom that the bride is herself in a position to give six or eight complete costumes, much as she may want all of her most particular friends with her on her day of days. Very often a bride tries especially to choose clothes that will not be expensive, but New York prices are New York prices, and the chic which is to make the wedding a perfect picture is the thing of all others that has to be paid for.

Even though one particular girl may be able to dress herself very smartly in homemade clothes of her own design and making, those same clothes duplicated eight times seldom turn out well. Why this is so, is a mystery. When a girl looks smart in inferior clothes, the merit is in her, not in the clothes—and in a group of six or eight, five or seven will show a lack of "finish," and the tender-hearted bride who, for the sake of their purses sends her bridesmaids to an average "little woman" to have their clothes made, and to a little hat-place around the corner, is apt to have a rather dowdy little flock fluttering down the aisle in front of her.

How Many Bridesmaids?

This question is answered by: How many friends has she whom she has "always promised" to have with her on that day? Has she a large circle of intimates or only one or two? Her sister is always maid of honor; if she has no sister, she chooses her most intimate friend.

A bride may have a veritable procession: eight or ten bridesmaids, a maid of honor, flower girls and pages. That is, if she follows the English custom, where every younger relative even including the little boys as pages, seems always to be brought into a perfect May-pole procession of ragged ages and sizes.

Or she may have none at all. She almost always has at least one maid, or matron, of honor, as the picture of her father standing holding her bouquet and stooping over to adjust the fall of her dress, would be difficult to witness with gravity.

At an average New York wedding, there are four or six bridesmaids—half of the "maids" may be "matrons," if most of the bride's "group" of friends have married before her. It is, however, not suitable to have young married women as bridesmaids, and then have an unmarried girl as maid of honor.

A Cinderella Wedding

Wedding Of A Cinderella

Some years ago there was a wedding when a girl who was poor married a man who was rich and who would gladly have given her anything she chose, the beauty of which will be remembered always by every witness in spite of, or maybe because of, its utter lack of costliness.

It was in June in the country. The invitations were by word of mouth to neighbors and personal notes to the groom's relatives at a distance. The village church was decorated by the bride, her younger sisters, and some neighbors, with dogwood, than which nothing is more bridelike or beautiful. The shabbiness of her father's little cottage was smothered with flowers and branches cut in a neighboring wood. Her dress, made by herself, was of tarlatan covered with a layer or two of tulle, and her veil was of tulle fastened with a spray, as was her girdle, of natural bridal wreath and laurel leaves. Her bouquet was of trailing bridal wreath and white lilacs. She was very young, and divinely beautiful, and fresh and sweet. The tulle for her dress and veil and her thin silk stockings and white satin slippers represented the entire outlay of any importance for her costume. A little sister in smock of pink sateen and a wreath and tight bouquet of pink laurel clusters, toddled after her and "held" her bouquet—after first laying her own on the floor!

The collation was as simple as the dresses of the bride and bridesmaid. A home-made wedding cake, "professionally" iced and big enough for every one to take home a thick slice in waxed paper piled near for the purpose, and a white wine cup, were the most "pretentious" offerings. Otherwise there were sandwiches, hot biscuits, cocoa, tea and coffee, scrambled eggs and bacon, ice cream and cookies, and the "music" was a victrola, loaned for the occasion. The bride's "going away" dress was of brown Holland linen and her hat a plain little affair as simple as her dress; again her only expenditure was on shoes, stockings and gloves. Later on, she had all the clothes that money could buy, but in none of them was she ever more lovely than in her fashionless wedding dress of tarlatan and tulle, and the plain little frock in which she drove away. Nor are any of the big parties that she gives to-day more enjoyable, though perfect in their way, than her wedding on a June day, a number of years ago.

ETIQUETTE, IN SOCIETY, IN BUSINESS, IN POLITICS AND AT HOME            BY EMILY POST

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