The Cotton Wedding Anniversary

The cotton wedding marks the first anniversary, but the why and wherefore of the title is hidden in mystery. Perhaps the occasion is so called because modesty forbids the taxing of one’s friends for anything more valuable than cotton gifts so soon after the original bridal presents.

The invitations may be written on white cotton handkerchiefs with indelible ink and a gold or glass pen, as neither of these will spatter, the handkerchiefs first being starched to cardboard stiffness and ironed very smooth.

Do not fold the invitations but roll them in other equally stiff handkerchiefs addressed to the guests, tying the rolls at each end with white cotton cords and tassels. These must be delivered by a messenger, as mailing would ruin them.

The invitations may also be printed in black lettering on slips of glazed white cotton, or superbly written cards may be sent out, having on each one a little tuft of raw cotton glued or sewed on the card.

The presents should follow the same rule as the costumes, not one thread of linen being permissible. They form a greater variety than at first seems possible, and comprise boxes of spool cotton in assorted sizes, balls of darning and knitting cotton, table and bureau mats, crocheted of cotton cord, cotton-sateen bedquilts filled with cotton batting, denim screens embroidered with heavy cotton twist, cushions of the same material decorated in a like manner, and, in humbler articles, iron holders and dish-cloths of drilling, which in packages of a dozen each, cut the right shape and hemmed, with the initial of the bride marked in one corner, are gifts by no means despised by young housekeepers. Sheets, pillow-cases and towels of cotton are also suitable presents, provided the hostess is not already overstocked.

The furnishings of the drawing room should be of cotton as far as is practical, without going to too much trouble. Curtains, portieres, lamp-shades, mantel and piano draperies, cushion covers, etc., can be temporarily replaced by others of scrim or unbleached muslin. Pink and white raw cotton twisted into effective blossoms, with natural green leaves and vines, can be used wherever floral decoration is advisable.

Above the heads of the married pair should be suspended a large marriage bell of sheet wadding tacked over a cardboard foundation, composed of gored sections sewed together, the clapper being a stick of proper length, with a ball of cotton at one end, the whole covered with the wadding.

The two dates—that of the wedding and of the anniversary—should be conspicuously displayed, the letters and numerals being of white raw cotton on a background of green leaves.

A dainty fancy easily executed is to have the refreshments green and white in color as far as possible. The following menu is suggested:

  • Creamed Oysters
  • Chicken Salad
  • Cheese Straws
  • Brown Bread Sandwiches
  • Vanilla and Pistache Cream
  • Bride Cake
  • Coffee
  • Angel Cake

Frozen sherbet and lemonade may be added if desired. Cotton bolls, always obtainable from the South, would be novel and suitable sou venire; have a cluster for each guest, tied with broad white cotton tape, inscribed with the initials of the bride and groom and the date of the two celebrations.

If the growing cotton cannot be obtained or is out of season, an excellent substitute can be had by making artificial paper bolls of heavy dark-green paper and filling them with loosely picked raw cotton, letting some of it hang in ragged lengths from the bolls, as if in dissimilar stages of ripening.

At a recent cotton wedding draperies of cotton stuffs artistically decorated the rooms; the hostess wore a charming muslin gown figured with dainty-hued blossoms, and most of the guests wore tasteful dresses or suits of cotton materials.

There were some very pretty costumes of cretonne, Yeddo crepe, sateen, mull, muslin, dotted Swiss, organdy, cheese-cloth and outing cloth.

The refreshments were served at small tables. In the center of each table was a round or square dish filled with wet sand and set in a circle of bursting cotton bolls, and into the sand had been thrust wild asters, blossom by blossom, with an edging of brilliant golden- rod.

For the gentlemen there were small sprays of golden-rod tied with narrow purple ribbons, and for the ladies, clusters of wild asters tied with yellow ribbons.

The presents were very numerous and were mostly of a practical character, among them being a bolt each of bleached and unbleached cotton, several cotton dress patterns, a great deal of fancy-work done with cotton, such as tatting, crocheting and knitted articles, curtains, table-covers, mats, doilies, gloves, prettily trimmed aprons, boxes of thread, sheeting, toweling, bed and pillow covers and shams, comforts, Hamburg trimmings, fancy dusting caps, lamp-cloths, dusting cloths, and, most important of all, a bundle of old cotton.

Following a novel idea, let the supper-table be covered with thin cotton batting sprinkled with diamond dust, and with a mound of crystallized grasses in the center, as if enveloped in a casing of ice; or, for a more simple decoration, a green cloth might be set on the table, and in the center a wicker basket placed, overflowing with snow-white cotton, as if just brought in from the fields.

When the real growing cotton can be had, a tall vase filled with cotton-bearing plants would prove an attractive centerpiece. Four white cotton streamers, extending from the center of the ceiling might be caught up at the four comers of the table and fastened by a cluster of cotton bolls and leaves.

Serve the menu on pure white china and have the eatables as white as possible—beaten biscuits, light-bread sandwiches spread with white cheese or blanched nut-kernels, the white slices of turkey, or chicken salad, with coarse bits of celery chopped up with it.

Vanilla ice cream, heaped in a shell of meringue, colored a pale green, may be served resembling cotton in the pod. White cake broken into irregular pieces can be eaten with this, then can come coffee, hidden beneath a foam of whipped cream, and served with white wafers.

For a more dignified celebration of the first anniversary, where the occasion is more a reunion of the guests of a year before than the celebration of a “cotton wedding' it is suggested that the decorations and menu be as nearly as possible what they were on the original wedding day.

The bride of a year may wear her wedding dress, and her bridesmaids should also dress the part. The same bridal party as nearly as may be should be gathered together and a bridal table would be a pleasant idea to carry out, with the same guests grouped about it, a replica of the bride-cake, etc.

Jean Wilde Clark, Ed., "Wedding Anniversaries: The Cotton Wedding," in Weddings and Wedding Anniversaries: A Book of Good Form in the Conduct of Marriage Ceremonies . . . with Added Chapters about the Various Anniversaries, New York: The Butterick Publishing Company, 1910, pp. 92-95.

Return to Top of Page

Vintage Wedding Fashions, Weddings, and Anniversaries
GG Archives

Support This Site - The Future of Our Past

Improve Your Family History Through Illustrations

Make Your Family History More Readable Through Illustrations From the GG Archives