Kiss the Bride

I found the following story in Fern Riddell’s A Victorian Guide to Sex, which not only reports on the facts or common beliefs found in actual Victorian guidebooks, but also mimics the various styles of these books. Riddell writes,

“A note here on the conclusion of the [wedding] ceremony. It has become the usual custom of those in the middle-class rank of life to allow the bridegroom, at the end of the vows, to kiss his wife in celebration. This practice is to be decidedly avoided, as it is never done by the people of the best society. Only  bride’s elderly relations are allowed to kiss her when congratulating her whist the rest of the wedding party, friends and onlookers may pass on their best wishes. There is no finer example of the purity of such actions than the Queen herself. On the Royal wedding day, the Queen was kissed by the Duke of Sussex [her 67-year old uncle], but not by Prince Albert [her new husband]” (57).

This custom has lasted quite a long time. It is my understanding that the first Royal wedding kiss was between Prince Charles and Princess Diana, and that wasn’t even at the wedding, but rather after, on the balcony as they waved to the crowd. The crowd was chanting “Kiss, kiss!” so much that Diana suggested they just go for it. The second Royal wedding kiss was only with Will and Kate (again, not at the wedding proper). Things move a bit more slowly in Royal circles.

On a personal note, I got married in the UK and when the registrar pronounced us married and said we could kiss, she rather grimly and strictly added, “BRIEFLY.” Maybe kissing still isn’t done in the best circles in Britain?


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