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Dating and marriage in colonial times

After the wedding, they typically wore it for other important events as well.

Diadema Morgan (1764-1788) wore the blue wool gown shown here at her wedding to Phineas Field of Northfield in 1785. This lovely brown brocade wedding dress (back shown here) belongs to the Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

This was the cheaper option, but the couple had to wait longer to be married. It may surprise you to learn that in colonial times women wore a variety of different colors on their wedding day.

White did not become the color of choice for brides until the Victorian era.

Gift of the Brooklyn Museum, 2009; Gift of Edith Viele, 1949 The most popular months for colonial weddings were late December, January, and early February, although couples married throughout the year, with the exception of Lent and the week before Christmas.

By the 1770s, rituals traditionally performed in churches, including marriages, were often performed in homes. In Virginia, regardless of where the wedding was performed, the ceremony had to be conducted by a minister of the Church of England for it to be recognized.

Colonial wedding feasts were elaborate affairs that often lasted two or more days, depending on the family’s wealth and the customs of the community.

Any free white person over the age of 21 could marry, provided they obtained a license or had banns published by their church.

Typical foods served included fish or clam chowder, stewed oysters, roasted pig, venison, duck, potatoes, baked rye bread, Indian cornbread, and pumpkin casserole. Coffee and tankards of spiced hard cider or punch made with hard cider combined with sugar, lemons, and limes were popular beverages.

Unlike our modern tiered wedding cakes, the bride’s cake was a thick, rich, spiced cake made with alcohol, dried fruit, and nuts similar to what we know as a fruitcake.

It often had a piece of nutmeg baked inside, and the person who received the slice with the nutmeg was supposed to be the next to marry.

Since the Middle Ages, common law marriages were accepted in England, and immigrants brought the custom to the colonies with them.


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