“Don’ts for Weddings” from 1904.

“Don’t scorn  a bachelor girl who is living in independent fashion. It may prove interesting to divert her from anti-matrimonial theories.”

“Don’t abuse you love’s modesty. See your lady home in the evening, but don’t smoke in her flat till the small hours.”

“Don’t marry a European unless the man is cosmopolitan in his ideas or the woman can fit in with continental modes of life. A wife in England is held in higher regard than in any other country in Europe.”

“Don’t marry a foreigner without strict observance of the marriage laws in his country. You might otherwise find yourself married in England but legally repudiated abroad.”

“Don’t hope for an ideal companion for middle age if your new spouse lightly abandons all memories of the partner of youth. It is better to cherish a regard for the dead alongside an honest love for the living.”

This book came into the household when my mother remarried. I decided to read it out of curiosity. Where does one start in describing it? It is certainly not politically correct in any way and paints a picture of different times, that can best be described as alien. I quite like it actually as it is certainly romantic and cute. I wonder if people were happier before when there where all sorts of rituals associated with marriage and dating; or if people are on average more content now when there are no rules for anything. Here are some selected quotes: 

First off; When choosing a spouse: ” Don’t single out a girl if you don’t intend to propose to her.”

“Don’t eschew possibilities for an informal introduction. Rescue her dog from a street fray, pick up a trinket she has dropped, or travel with her on a long journey and prove yourself her cavalier.”

Nr.2; The courtship: “Don’t startle the lady of your heart by too sudden a development. Some women like to be taken by storm, but most girls like to enjoy being wooed and won.”

“Don’t single out your girl from the rest of her people and invite her alone. Until there is an acknowledged engagement, her parent, brother, or sister should be included.”

“Don’t neglect to discover what interests her people. Bring her father cuttings for the garden. Lend her mother books, sing or recite at her charity entertainments.”

“Don’t wonder that free and easy parents often find their daughters remain unmarried. Man is a hunter who values his spoils in proportion to the difficulties overcome in the chase.”

(Artists, oh these tumultuous artists, lol…): ” Don’t believe that because a man is an artist he must lack courtesy to women. Likewise, it is not inevitable that a girl with a talent for drawing should violate all the proprieties.”

Nr.3; The question of age“Don’t deny later problems if you marry a man much younger than yourself. The advance of age will make you old while he remains in his prime. you may pray for death or release, or wear a wig and paint your face, but if you live long enough, both of you will suffer.”

“Don’t scoff at the older man who retains youth’s vitality; many a girl would be proud to marry him.”

Nr.4; The proposal: “Don’t make an offer of marriage till you are in a position to support a wife. No lady should waste her youth nor heart on a man who is not trying to make their marriage possible.”

“Don’t marry in haste. To meet one week and propose the next is a doubtful compliment.”

“Don’t stoop to asking a man to marry you; there is something repellent in a marriage offer coming from a woman’s lips.”

“Don’t resent being closely questioned before your reception into a family. Be ready to give all particulars that may be required.”

“Don’t omit to state what your income and prospects are, the probable date at which you will be able to marry, and how you intend to provide for your wife.”

“Don’t discourage her father’s confidence – there are some warnings that must be heeded, notably where there is taint of insanity within the family.”

Nr.5; Celebrating the engagement: “Don’t tarry  once the engagement is settled. A few days later, the lady’s parents should give a dinner for close friends, or a larger At Home.”

Nr.6; 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 belittle love-letters when daily or frequent meetings are impossible. They have an important part to play in the course of true love.”

“Don’t reveal to anyone the secrets of your exchange. your letters must remain private. To you they will be sublime; to the outsider they would be ridiculous.”

“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.”

Nr.7; Should matters go awry: “Don’t continue with wedding plans if you have idealised your lady, been blinded by her beauty or bedazzled by her wit. Consider the woman as she really is.”

“Don’t neglect to send back the ring and other tokens should your engagement be broken. Burn letters or return them to the writer – feelings run strong over written proofs of a love that has disappointed.”

Nr.8; Elopements: “Don’t overlook that you face misery and disgrace if you bind yourself to a man whose moral unfitness is manifest.”

“Don’t marry in secret for fear of losing money if you reveal the truth. Love is not enough without the wherewithal to gild it.”

“Don’t stain the outset of your wedded life with deception and falsehood. So are sown the seeds of distrust and contempt where love and trust should flourish.”

Nr.9; Preparations, Gowns and the Trousseau: ” Don’t fix the date in May, which is considered unlucky for weddings: “If married in Lent / You are sure to repent.”

“Don’t rush at the last but prepare calmly for the most vital step in your life. Ensure you both have some days of peace to ponder the gravity of your new responsibilities.”

“Don’t permit the choice of bridesmaids to become a source  of family friction. The bride’s sister must take precedence, then her dearest school friend. Finally, his sister must be asked; they may be neither attractive nor young.”

“Don’t forget that elderly bridesmaids in youthful frocks and girlish hats are ridiculous to the unthinking, and pathetic to those who look beneath the surface.”

“Don’t discount season with regard to your materials. White gauzy frocks look chill in mid-winter, and may afflict the wearers with red noses.”

“Don’t forget the value of quality; a good cloth is more important than the trimmings and make. It is good economy to buy the best where regular or hard wear is required.”

Nr.10; The invitations: “Don’t neglect to invite any friend who has sent a present before the invitations are out.”

Nr.11; Wedding Presents: “Don’t offer silver if the bride will have only one servant. She will have to rub up her own brushes and sweetmeat dishes.”

“Don’t choose a present just because you like the object yourself. A grand piano is no good to those who will not have a large room.”

Nr.12; Setting up home“Don’t, where possible, start married life together other than in a home of your own.”

“Don’t trust your groom to superintend the choice of your home. Check provision of cupboards and store-rooms, the aspect of the larder and condition of the kitchen range.”

“Don’t involve your groom in every decision. You may like to choose the household goods or schemes of decoration together; but don’t consult him over saucepans, pillows or blankets.”

“Don’t find a house in an utterly strange neighbourhood. Your bride will be isolated till neighbours are satisfied as to her respectability.”

Nr.13; Banns and legal formalities“Don’t disregard making financial arrangements to safeguard your wife from ruin or poverty in the event of your death.”

“Don’t avoid, if you have private means, settling a certain portion upon your wife. While you live, she should have the interest of this amount, and no control over the capital.”

“Don’t dismiss the influence of your bride’s dowry. This is of ancient origin and brings your wife respect, lessening the humiliation of her social and legal position.”

Nr.14; Planning the day“Don’t sigh, as a father of the bride, over the expenses of music and decoration of the church, the conveyances, and entertainments.”

“Don’t rule out entertaining the wedding party at a hotel or restaurant if you don’t want your home turned upside down. However, this is a less familiar setting for the bride’s adieu to her old home life.”

“Don’t neglect to see that the bride has proper food to sustain her through the day’s proceedings. She should not feel faint at the altar.”

Nr.15; The bride“Don’t succumb to nerves from the rush and excitement of the wedding morning, though you will be all the more attractive for some maidenly diffidence.”

“Don’t fail to savour the journey to church with your father, who will then bestow you upon your husband. It is the finest occasion in your lives together.”

“Don’t stride triumphantly through your wedding. You will not show the best of taste.”

Nr.16; The bridesmaids“Don’t disdain the groom or best man when they present you with a trinket or posy at the church. Your part in the day will make or mar your friend’s joy.”

Nr.17; The groom and best man” Don’t sleep under the same roof as your fiancée the night before the wedding.”

“Don’t see your beloved on the day, till you meet her in all her bridal beauty. Tradition asks her to retire even from her household early in the day; but more modern views now prevail.”

“Don’t ignore the etiquette of seating in the church. The brothers or cousins of the bride show the guests to their places. The groom’s family and friends sit on the right, the bride’s people on the left.”

Nr.18; The reception“Don’t seat the bride for the meal elsewhere than between her husband and father. The newly weds will take the head of the table or the centre of one side of the festive board.”

“Don’t poke about among the gifts unless in the company of one of the family or a bridesmaid; there may be a detective present who might misinterpret friendly interest to the discomfort of a prying guest.”

Nr.19; The honeymoon“Don’t throw rice at the young couple which is not soothing to receive in the eye or ear. Paper confetti are a harmless substitute. Throwing old shoes is a relic from ancient times of the sticks and stones hurled by defeated friends when the victorious bridegroom carried off the bride as his prize and captive.”

“Don’t over-extend your honeymoon. Men were made for something more virile than billing and cooing. When the sweetness begins to cloy, it is time to return to everyday life.”

“Don’t hang your new husband round with bags, hat-boxes, and other impedimenta.”

Nr.20; The newly-married couple in society“Don’t delay in giving an At Home to friends who presented gifts, and to those who attended your wedding. Send out invitations in your name only; your husband should put in an appearance if possible.”

“Don’t welcome callers without wearing or using their gifts. Otherwise there should be no formal display of presents.”

“Don’t bore the company by quoting your new husband as a world-oracle. Civilised humanity has not been waiting through dark ages of perplexity for your recent domestic discoveries.”

Nr.21; Marriages requiring further thought“Don’t marry your first cousin. It is your plain duty to abstain from such a union as the intermarriage of family members leads to physical deterioration in unborn generations.”

“Don’t marry where there is any hereditary disease of mind or body. It is little short of criminal to contract such a union.”

Nr.22; Second marriages“Don’t rule out that real romance may awaken only with your second wooing. It need be no mere prosaic, practical transaction.”

“Don’t choose grey for your widow’s wedding frock. you may wear any light, delicate colour; but a woman has only one white wedding and one bridal veil in her life.”

“Don’t, if your new wife already has a nice home of her own, take up position as a master of the household that has hitherto gone on quite well without you, without great tact and thought.”

“Don’t take a second wife without informing any adult sons and daughters who may reside with you.”

“Don’t install a step-mother over youths of her own age. This places them all in a difficult position, and may create tragedy.”

“Don’t marry a spinster without considering a full smart wedding even on your second or third marriage. It is the condition of your bride that decides such matters.”

“Don’t be alarmed at comparisons with No.1 in thought if not in word, involuntarily if not intentionally. It is not generous of No.2 to try and banish the memory of the dead.”







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