I’m getting married today!!!
Please enjoy these tips about courtship, weddings, and marriage from 1904. They were found in the A & C Black book Don’ts For Weddings. Some of these are remarkably forward thinking in terms of treating marriage as a partnership of total equality, based on respect, love, and common sense; these tips have aged well. Some other of these, however, are . . . products of their time.
All of these are direct quotations. My comments are in brackets.
-“Don’t single out a girl if you don’t intend to propose to her” (1). [Don’t even talk to her at the vicar’s garden party unless you’ve got a ring picked out].
-“Don’t haunt a girl whose acquaintance you seek. There is a wide margin between accepting invitations in the hope of meeting her and walking past her house serveral times a day, or shadowing her in public places” (2). [No stalking. Basic common sense.]
-“Don’t spurn the suitor with some experience of women and their ways. He makes a better lover than one who is ignorant” (3). [Pick a man who’s been around the block and knows how to use his . . .]
-“Don’t be surprised if love awakens during a separation, or when a rival appears” (4). [Make your partner jealous. Really jealous. Nothing gets people hotter than game-playing.]
-“Don’t force yoruself upon her if your attentions are unwelcome. you have no right if she has used every means . . . to show she does not desire your nearer acquaintance” (5). [Guys. This was written in 1904. How are issues of consent or unwanted attentions still a thing?]
-“Don’t send gifts other than flowers, bon-bons, and pretty trifles till you have confessed your love. you may give her a dog or kitten, or the undressed skin of an animal you have shot, but you must not offer articles of jewellery, furs, or items of toilette” (6). [The bloody skin of an animal is appropriate. The un-bloody skin of an animal is inappropriate. Because logic.]
-“Don’t scorn a bachelor girl who is living in independent fashion. It may prove interesting to divert her from anti-matrimonial theories” (10). [Nothing is more fun than trying to convince someone that their way of life is misguided. Chicks love that.]
-“Don’t make her conspicuous by always travelling home together, but be at hand to pilot her through a fog or help her out of a crowd” (11). [Wait, doesn’t this violate the stalking rule above?]
-“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 talent for drawing should violate all the proprieties” (12). [Artists. Dicks, the lot of them.]
-“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 for release, or wear a wig and paint your face, but if you live long enough, both of you will suffer” (15). [O_O]
-“Don’t stoop to asking a man to marry you; there is something repellent in a marriage offer coming from a woman’s lips” (19).
-“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” (20).
-“Don’t fail to congratulate him, even though she is worlds too good for him; what to say to her when you feel she is making a disastrous match is a painful problem” (23). [Congratulations, you giant sack of crap. She is the best thing that will ever happen to you, you complete waste of space.]
-“Don’t make vulgar exhibition of your love: a close clasp of the hand or silent greeting of the eyes will suffice” (25).
-“Don’t give yourself away by allowing awkward pauses in conversation because your eyes are hungrily following your lover” (26). [Gross.]
-“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” (31). [This is great advice, but . . . if you’ve idealised her . . . how would you know?)
-“Don’t hasten but allow a good interval between the final decision and the day itself. At least a month or six weeks is suitable; more allows due time for preparations” (34). [I have been planning my wedding for 18 months. And it’s a tiny, simple wedding. The idea of doing it in a month is making me twitch].
-“Don’t permit the choice of bridesmaids to become a source of family friction. The bride’s sisters must take precedence, then her dearest school-friend. Finally, his sisters must be asked; they may be neither attractive nor young” (35), [What do their looks or ages have to do with anything?]
-“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” (37). [Ouch.]
-“Don’t adorn yourself with an excess of jewellry which seems vulgar on such a solemn occasion” (53).
-“Don’t expect, as the groom, to receive as much attention as your bride. It is probably a matter of clothes.” (57) [Nope. It’s gender roles.]
-“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” (43). [Because men know nothing about kitchens. Which is all that women know about.]
-“Don’t choose a home next door to either set of parents. you will settle into married life far better alone together” (45). [Also, because they might show up unexpectedly while you are banging].
-“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” (48). [I can’t decide if this is actively feminist, or terribly misogynistic.]
-“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.” (63).
-“Don’t disregard that the first year of married life will prove your union a failure or success” (64). [Yes. Because all doomed marriages fail in the first year].
-“Don’t start an acquaintance with older married people; it is not your place” (66) [What, EVER? Under ANY circumstances? What?]
-“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” (67).
-“Don’t marry where there is any hereditary disease of mind or body. It is little short of criminal to contract such a union” (67) [Whooaaaaa, easy there, eugenics supporter].
-“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” (67).