October 13, 2014

{Attending the Bride}

Bridesmaids of Victoria, the Princess Royal, circa 1858

Dear Bride-to-Be
The way brides choose their bridesmaids changes just like the fashion for selecting bouquet styles or gown necklines. Brides invite friends and family members to be part of their wedding party for all sorts of reasons—and it’s not always about being “attended to.” Sometimes it’s to “out do” the last wedding in town or copy-cat a celebrity ceremony in the news; or perhaps some brides choose attendants out of a sense of obligation or just whatever it takes to feel like a princess!

Princess Elizabeth and her attendants, circa 1947
British historian Dulcie Ashdown described Queen Victoria’s 1840 wedding: “Behind her came a dozen bridesmaids, the daughters of peers dressed in white with white-rose wreaths and carrying her long train.” However, some attendants were heard to comment that if the train was longer they could be more graceful and not have to “bunch up” as they did! Princess Elizabeth, later Queen Elizabeth II, had eight bridesmaids in attendance for her 1947 wedding, including her sister Margaret, but it was her page-boys sporting kilts in the Royal tartan who carried her long, heavily beaded silk tulle court train.

Kate Middleton with her sister attending, circa 2011
Over sixty years later, when a poised Kate Middleton wed the Queen’s grandson William, the future Duchess was blessed to have a close relationship with her sister who, as the only adult bridesmaid, was the one to carry the bride’s heavy train as well as attend her sister in other ways. Dressed for the wedding in cream silk by the bride's couturier, Pippa had also been available to help with tasks during the busy months of wedding planning, be good company and offer womanly encouragement—something every bride needs, royal or otherwise!

Love. Listen. Let go.
...with love from Cornelia

[This is an excerpt from my upcoming book The End of the Fairy-Tale Bride: {Volume One} For Better or Worse, How Princess Diana Rescued the Great White Wedding. Stay tuned for publishing news!]

September 26, 2014

{Gracious Destinations}

Dear Bride-to-Be: 
You always want your wedding to be in a beautiful setting: whether a large cathedral or cozy chapel; an ornate temple or a lush blue-water beach; a backyard garden or an elegant historical mansion!

There are many lovely and grand old homes around the world (some are even castles) that have been restored into "destination" wedding venues....places that seem to call forth the beauty and magic of ancient rituals. I just visited one in Mobile, Alabama: the elegant Bragg-Mitchell Mansion in all its antebellum glory, nestled among graceful live oaks and palmettos. (I was there to give my Downton Abbey costume talk and have a book signing.)

Having an intimate "sense of place" for their wedding is important to many couples...a sense that they feel "at home" yet transported to something moving, even spiritual. So wherever you choose to gather for wedding vows and deep connections with family and friendsclose to home or farawaychoose from your heart and that intimacy will guide your strong sense of place all the way "home."

Love. Listen. Let go.
...with love from Cornelia

Bragg-Mitchell Mansion dining table set for Morning Coffee
during my "Downton Abbey" presentation. 
[Images courtesy of Bragg-Mitchell Mansion]

September 10, 2014

{Be Exquisitely Self-Expressed}

Dear Bride-to-Be:
There's no such thing as too many musings about beautiful vintage handkerchiefs! So here's a "ps" to a recent post about my love for hankies....

I met Cynthia Brumback, author of the wondrous new book The Art of the Monogram, at a book signing in Cashiers, North Carolina last month. Of course there's more to monograms than just using on handkerchiefs and Cynthia's book covers it all exquisitely: from sterling silver and home linens to royal jewels and silk lingerie; from their etched historical beginnings to today's high-fashion runways; from grand display to intimately personal. (This book should be on your most wished-for "gift list.")

Planning a wedding, being a bride, beginning a marriage are all compelling rites-of-passage and I can't think of anything that marks their passage more memorably than to have some sort of beautifully scripted monogram to commemorate the occasion. Whether it's a vintage linen handkerchief embroidered with your initial to carry on your wedding day; or for your reception, a pair of old silver toasting goblets engraved with your new monogram, perfect for holding hand-picked wildflowers later by your bedside; or a custom-designed monogram with "his & her" initials for your wedding cake (just like William and Kate!), a design you use forever on favorite things at home.

In the spirit of honoring relationship (with yourself, with another, with your heritage), something monogramed is the perfect bit of "self-expressed" beauty to add to your life every day!

Love. Listen. Let go.
...with love from Cornelia

[Photograph: The Art of the Monogram]

August 29, 2014

{Linking Up With the Past!}

Dear Bride-to-Be:
I have a treat for you! Here's a link to my latest article in SEASON magazine's autumn issue ("A Whiter Shade of Pale" -- all about the mystique of the white wedding gown through history) ... which just happens to be an excerpt from my upcoming new book: The End of the Fairy-Tale Bride {Volume One} For Better or Worse, How Princess Diana Rescued the Great White Wedding.

Plus, the link will also take you to a report I wrote about my visit in the spring to Winterthur Museum where I gave a presentation ("Vintage Inspiration: The Brides of Downton Abbey") during their costume exhibition featuring our favorite British period drama. (If you land on the cover page, then scroll to pages 88-89 and you're there!) Enjoy all the elegant "vintage vibes"....

Love. Listen. Let go.
....with love from Cornelia