Two Weddings Cousin Lucy Saw 1911
A cute story about two weddings that took place during 1911. One taking place in South Africa, and the other an outdoor wedding in New England. Lucy describes the event and the apparel worn by the bridal parties at both weddings in this enjoyable short story.
We are up to our eyes in that delightful disorder that goes before a wedding, for Ellen is to be married in June. It is just like Ellen, precipitate or nothing, but she says she just has to be married in June, and she is not going to wait a whole year for another June just because her family has to have six months to catch its breath. We wired for Cousin Lucy immediately, and she came straight to us—that is the charm of her.
She was having a ripping time in London, but a family engagement was important enough to send her flying to us. “Flying" is a libel on Cousin Lucy, though, for she treads the air-glides is the word.
If you can imagine a very distinguished lady, forty years young, with the whitest white hair and the blackest black eyes and the pinkest pink cheeks calmly gliding across the Atlantic, that is Cousin Lucy!
We could not have a big reception, or a wedding, or a new baby, or any event of importance in our family without Cousin Lucy, of Kentucky and the Great Wide World!
Cousin Lucy immediately went over to Ellen's side in the family controversy and said a hurry-up wedding in June was better than all the weddings in all the other months in the year.
“Why,” she said, “I can no more understand a normally-in-love girl selecting any other month than June for her wedding than I can understand that misguided young mother who will name her first-born son after anyone but his father. Some people have no sense of the fitness of things!” That settled it.
An English Wedding
"Now, Cousin Lucy,” Ellen begged, “tell us of the very prettiest weddings you ever saw. You see, we have been so busy with sewing and invitations and such, that we have had no time to plan the picturesque details of the affair. That it is to be a home wedding is decided. We leave the rest to you.”
“The very prettiest weddings—it is hard to decide—” mused Cousin Lucy. “Two stand out in my memory as being perfect in every detail, and yet there couldn't be more dissimilar weddings, for one of the brides was the daughter of a hundred earls of Old England, and the other was the daughter of a hundred New England school-teachers, I reckon! And to save me I can't decide which was the prettier.
“The English girl's wedding was in South Africa; you remember when I was visiting the Courtneys there. The bride was that charming, wholesome English girl we all meet occasionally, and her fiancé was one of the English naval officers stationed at Cape Town.
The girl had determined to pay full homage to her beloved home, the sea. Everything should suggest the sea and its treasures. The quaint little church was decorated with sea flowers and grasses, and the altar, instead of being banked with the usual potted plants, was entirely concealed by a huge anchor, made of little green and white flowers.
Water-lilies were used everywhere—I never could imagine where they found so many. The little flower girls were dressed to represent mermaids. One of them wore a little blue chiffon frock over green silk, and the other wore green chiffon over blue, giving the effect of the blue-green shimmer of the sea. They carried armfuls of water-lilies and wore little crowns of them.
The little boys who walked with the ‘mermaids' wore white sailor clothes. “The bridesmaids represented sirens— and looked the part. Of all the bewitching costumes—princess gowns of soft white stuff, flecked all over with little green and silver spangles.
Instead of bouquets, they carried gilded lyres. They, too, wore wreaths of water-lilies. The ushers, who walked with the sirens,' were all naval Officers in full-dress uniform.
The bride wore the traditional white satin gown and long lace veil, the veil being held in place over each ear by perfect water-lilies. She carried a shower bouquet of the lilies and long grasses.
The groom was in dress uniform and wore all his orders, and he sparkled to outshine the sirens!”
“What a lovely, lovely wedding!” we breathed, enraptured.
“I cannot begin to tell you the details of it, but I remember that the bridesmaids were all given little anchors, made of pearls, and we were given little gold anchors as souvenirs.
The bride's table at the supper that followed was lovely. The centerpiece was a huge man-of-war, constructed of green and white flowers. Our place-cards were silver ships, in miniature. The salt dishes were iridescent sea-shells, and larger shells held the almonds and candies.
All kinds of little sea beasties were scattered over the table; sea-horses and lobsters, sea urchins and crabs, starfish and sea-serpents and goodness knows what else!
We were chattering away when suddenly the lights went out, and all those little beasties began to blink their eyes at us! They had been wired for the occasion, you see. This will show you how carefully every detail of that wedding was thought out.
An Outdoor Wedding
The other wedding that of the little New England girl was as simple as the Cape Town wedding was elaborate.
The bride lived in one of those dear, gray-shingled houses that cuddle down in old apple orchards in New England, and that is invariably surrounded by straggling gray stone walls. The little house was entirely too small to hold the friends of the dear girl, so she decided to be married in the apple orchard in blossom time.
“I have always wondered why more of you girls who live in small towns and in the country are not married out-of-doors. Why will you go to stuffy, inartistic little churches when you might have the full beauty of God's out-of-doors?
The groves were God's first temples, you know, my dears. The girl who lives in the city must be married indoors, but you who live in small towns—why do you do it?”
“Oh, Cousin Lucy, why can't I be married out in the grove and have the elms roped off with daisy chains? We have worlds of daisies, and besides, I am to have my Vassar classmates for bridesmaids, and you know daisies are our college flowers—” Ellen's eyes were sparkling.
“Of course, my dear; I had planned it all on the way over! But, to return to our apple-orchard bride: Imagine that old orchard, so fragrant that you fairly ached to be in love, the gnarled old trees with their clouds of pink and white blossoms, the fresh green grass spattered with fallen petals, the bees crooning and buzzing in accompaniment to the two violins."
"The simplicity of it, the absence of that distressing curiosity that goes with many a church wedding gave me a feeling of reverence I had not known before at weddings."
“The violins crooned along a number of lovely things, and gradually drifted into the wedding music, and then the bridal party came. The bridesmaids wore pink and white dimity frocks and carried branches of apple blossoms."
"The maid of honor wore a pale pink mull gown, and the mother of the bride wore pale gray."
The groomsmen wore white flannels—it was a morning wedding, you see. The bride and her father, and the groom and the minister, came out together, chatting as if weddings were everyday affairs!
The bride wore the simplest of white frocks and a little cap-like veil, just enough to be a veil, she said and carried a huge wreath of apple blossoms over one arm."
“What a heavenly wedding!" Ellen whispered, reverently. “I am so glad, Cousin Lucy, so glad! You see, if I had suggested being married out-of-doors, everyone would have thought me crazy.
But with you backing me, and with the picture of that dear girl in my mind, I shall have the loveliest wedding that ever was. I shall have the girls wear pale yellow and white frocks and large white hats with wreaths of real daisies.
And we will have an aisle marked off through the elms with daisy chains. I must ask all the girls in town up the day before, to help make them. And we will have daisies everywhere.
Why, wouldn't it be a lovely thing to make a daisy chain for each guest, a sort of ‘welcome garland, as they do in Hawaii? We will serve breakfast under the elms, and have lots of little tables scattered around, with daisy chains on them, and yellow and white things to eat. Do be thinking of other things, all of you, while I run and tell mother!"
I said we were up to our eyes in work. I suppose we shall be wholly submerged, now!
Goodnow, Ruby Ross, "Entertaining in June: Two Weddings that Cousin Lucy Saw," in The Delineator, New York: The Butterick Publishing Company, Vol. LXXVII, No. 6, June 1911, p. 531-532.
Note: We have edited this text to correct grammatical errors and improve word choice to clarify the article for today’s readers. Changes made are typically minor, and we often left passive text “as is.” Those who need to quote the article directly should verify any changes by reviewing the original material.