Friday, March 6, 2020

Victorian-American Wedding Anniversary Parties by Kristin Holt

Kristin Holt | Victorian-American Wedding Anniversary Parties
by USA Today Bestselling Author Kristin Holt


As readers of sweet romance set in the American Old West, we’re familiar with weddings in this favored setting. We know all about home weddings, preachers or justices of the peace, and recording important dates (like marriages) in the family Bible. Have you noticed that wedding anniversaries are seldom mentioned in historical romance fiction? (Or is this sense of something [accurate] missing bothering only me?)

Wedding anniversary to-do’s were HUGE in the nineteenth century United States. Couples everywhere celebrated their wedding anniversaries in a variety of ways and means, inviting friends and family to celebrate—and in some cases, when a party wasn’t held, the guests held the party for the guests of honor—Surprise! (Can you even imagine?)

Kristin Holt | Victorian-American Wedding Anniversary Parties: First Wedding Anniversary Surprise Party. Published in The San Francisco Examiner of San Francisco, California on September 2, 1886.
 

Do you recall something about a paper wedding, a tin wedding, and a golden wedding? Victorian-Americans took that stuff seriously. Though vintage sources disagree (and they knew it), they generally held to a generally held “ten years equals tin wedding” and “fifty years equals golden wedding.” To learn much more about these additional weddings, and all the to-do about them, don’t miss out on my post about Victorian-American Wedding Anniversaries in general... it’s also live today!

Kristin Holt | Victorian-American Wedding Anniversaries

Other than find themselves (un-)pleasantly surprised with a surprise party thrown in their own home, what did folks do to acknowledge the anniversary of their marriage?

Kristin Holt | Victorian-American Wedding Anniversary Parites: a 25th Silver Wedding Anniversary celebrated at home by Mr. and Mrs. Geo. Anderson. Published in The Topeka Daily Capital of Topeka, Kansas, on November 11, 1888.
The Topeka Daily Capital of Topeka, Kansas on November 11, 1888.


Kristin Holt | Victorian-American Wedding Anniversary Parties: Mr. and Mrs. Scott's Topeka, Kansas Tin Wedding Anniversary Party. Published in The Topeka State Journal of Topeka, Kansas on October 20, 1898.

Kristin Holt | Victorian-American Wedding Anniversaries: Mr. and Mrs. Shaw's Bonne Terre, Missouri Tin Wedding.

The couple often threw their own anniversary party, inviting friends, family, the husband’s business associates, neighbors and the like. Festivities were often held in their home, involving music and food. Newspaper notices about such social gatherings typically listed the number of years celebrated by the couple, the names of guests in attendance, and in many cases, gifts given by various friends enumerated.

Oh boy.


When not enjoying music (such as a musicale), dancing, or supping at the dining room table, wedding anniversary party guests were often treated to other performances (phrenology, for example), or in the case of Mr. and Mrs. C. S. Houghton, were treated to the new game Newcastle, and many winners took home lovely prizes.

Kristin Holt | Victorian-American Wedding Anniversary Parties: Wedding Anniversary Party plays "the new game Newcastle" for prizes. Announced in The Sacramento Bee of Sacramento, California on March 26, 1887.

The size of a man’s bank account (and perhaps the size of his circle of friends) dictated the extravagance and expense of a wedding anniversary party. New York City newspapers mention parties held at home by couples married from one to sixty years, with the same type of gatherings and celebrations as their western counterparts.

Some celebrations held in ritzy neighborhoods of San Francisco cost far more than a working man could earn in half his lifetime. Descriptions of opulence make me wonder how the happy groom could continue to afford his own party year after year after year. Maybe once one hit the teens (thirteen years of marital bliss, fourteen, fifteen) they needn’t host a get-together until the big numbers, say, like their Silver Wedding.

Kristin Holt | Victorian-American Wedding Anniversary Parties: Crystal Wedding Party in Lawrence, Kansas--Fifteen Years for Mr. and Mrs. Geo. R. Gould. Annouced in The Spirit of Kansas of Lawrence, Kansas, on November 30, 1881.

This next example of a humble Fiftieth Wedding Anniversary Party speaks of posterity gathering and marking the Golden Wedding of their parents and grandparents.

Kristin Holt | Victorian-American Wedding Anniversary Parties: Golden Wedding of Saybrook, Illinois-- A Family Celebration. From The Salem Monitor of Salem, Missouri on December 10, 1896.

Sometimes Wedding Anniversary Parties were more commemorative and delightful to the aging bride and groom than anything else. Can’t you see the smiles upon the faces of elderly Mr. and Mrs. Mather? Who said sleigh rides were entertainment for the young?

Kristin Holt | Victorian-American Wedding Anniversary Parties: A Commemorative Emporia, Pennsylvania Sixtieth Wedding Anniversary. From The Lebanon Argus of Lebanon, Kansas on February 22, 1901.


Golden Wedding Anniversaries were rare in Victorian America, as a normal  and expected lifespan of men and women were strikingly shorter then than now. Considering the Mather’s sleighing on their sixtieth wedding anniversary, in their early 80s, was something remarkable and special... and not only because they were still together. Folks were considered “old” if they reached fifty... and that was a BIG if.

Notice this next couple were doubly-blessed. Not only did they celebrate fifty years of marital bliss, but they outlived virtually all of their contemporaries.

Kristin Holt | Victorian-American Wedding Anniversary Parites: Golden Wedding Party (Part 1 of 3). From Kansas City Journal of Kansas City, Missouri on March 28, 1897.
Kristin Holt | Victorian-American Wedding Anniversary Parites: Golden Wedding Party (Part 2 of 3). From Kansas City Journal of Kansas City, Missouri on March 28, 1897.
Kristin Holt | Victorian-American Wedding Anniversary Parites: Golden Wedding Party (Part 3 of 3). From Kansas City Journal of Kansas City, Missouri on March 28, 1897.


This last Victorian-American Wedding Anniversary Party notice from an 1896 newspaper reminds us all that food and drink in the late Victorian era, despite Victorian refrigerators and plenty of ice, food poisoning still happened.

Kristin Holt | Victorian-American Wedding Anniversary Parites: Fashionable Wedding Anniversary Guests Poisoned. Reported in Kansas City Journal of Kansas City, Missouri on November 29, 1896.


NOTEWORTHY


Sometimes, people live a shockingly long time. And sometimes, marriage seems to agree with those old codgers. A newspaper syndicate shared the surprising story of Joaquin Marreiro (age 103) and his wife (97) (Cabaceiras City, Brazil), married eighty years. “Of the twenty-three children born to this aged pair fourteen still survive. One hundred and twenty-six grandchildren and ninety-seven great-grandchildren will attend the wedding anniversary.” [Source: The Bloomfield Vindicator of Bloomfield, Missouri on February 26, 1881.]


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Kristin Holt | Nineteenth Century Ice Cutting: Part 1
 
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Two Invitations:

You're invited to browse my many blog articles about life and love in the Victorian American West~

Kristin Holt | Contributing Author: Sweet Americana Sweethearts
and on my own website: KristinHolt.com/articles:
Kristin Holt | Historical Articles by USA Today Bestselling Author Kristin Holt

You're also invited to scroll down and reply!

What do you think of these vintage newspaper articles about Wedding Anniversary Parties held in the 19th century U.S.A.?

Did anything within this article surprise you?

Thanks so much for reading!

Warmest Regards,
Kristin Holt
Kristin Holt | USA Today Bestselling Author writes Sweet Romances Appropriate for All Audiences
 Copyright © 2020 Kristin Holt LC

1 comment:

  1. Wow, this is so very interesting! They sure did celebrate their wedding anniversaries with style! Wow the one of the couple celebrating their 80th anniversary is Amazing, all the children, grandchildren and great grandchildren they had! Thank you so much for sharing this info. I enjoyed reading it ! Have a Great weekend. God Bless you. aliciabhaney (at) sbcglobal (dot) net

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