Engagements 100 years ago

Jun 28, 2013

I recently came across a lovely, very quaint book published by A & C Black called “Don’ts for Weddings”. You can find plenty of advice on the web about weddings, but what makes this little book stand out is that it is actually a reprint of a manual from 1904.

Some things have remained the same, but, predictably, much has changed over 109 years. I thought it might be entertaining to quote a few paragraphs from the book, to give a flavour of what it contains. You can judge for yourself whether things have changed for the better!

The Engaged Couple

“Don’t make vulgar exhibition of your love: a close clasp of the hand or silent greeting of the eyes will suffice.

“Don’t tyrannise your fiancé. If you order him about and take his submission as your due, rest assured that one day the worm will surely turn.”

“Don’t consider the cosy corners, shady walks, and secluded nooks your monopoly at a house-party. Exercise a little healthful self-control.

“Don’t neglect to go about together as much as possible in tete-a-tete intercourse. Lovers must learn to pass their lives together.”

Texting, e-mails and social media?

“Don’t make a rule of writing to each other at bedtime with all you had not time to say, having parted at only 7 p.m. It may become a tax, and breaking it on either side may cause pain and friction.

“Don’t belittle love-letters when daily or frequent meetings are impossible. They have an important part to play in the course of true love.”

Marry in haste; repent at leisure

“Don’t rush an engagement. Let it be long enough for your love to settle into a more normal state, where you can gain a clearer estimate of your mutual fitness.

“Don’t risk criticism by urging a hasty marriage if you are a lady. Let that come from your fiancé.”

There are some 70 pages of advice. I may offer some more in a future blog, but you might consider obtaining this little guide yourself. Included within it is some excellent counsel – and also some earnest suggestions that now seem very amusing!

If you want rather more modern advice on planning or conducting a wedding, then please contact me.

Michael Gordon can help prepare and conduct a tailor-made civil ceremony in or around London or, indeed, in Europe.