Today there are a few dresses that have survived the time and some that have been identified as wedding gowns. Still in existence today is Princess Charlottes silver wedding dress of 1816 v, recently exhibited at the Museum of London. This elaborate gown in silver "net" (lace) over white silk is cut in the apron style so popular at the time. It is trimmed with plenty of silver lace as well. Note that this dress doesn't look exactly as the dress depicted in the etching published in the May 1816 issue by La Belle Ansembleé.
Ivory silk taffeta gown worn by Anne
Catherine Spurck of Chillicothe, Ohio
at her wedding on July 4, 1817. 17
The ivory silk "Schaffner Wedding
Dress" of 1824 from Pennsylvania,
Princess Charlotte's wedding dress,
1816. White silk net, embroidered in
silver strip, trimmed with silver lace. 19
Anne Catherine Spurck's wedding dress of 1817 w, now in the Ohio Historical Society's collection, makes quite a contrast to the sumptious wedding gown of a princess. Miss Spurck's wedding dress is an ivory silk taffeta gown, rather plain, and cut somewhat low over the bust. It has long sleeves, gathered around the wrist and the cuff let fall over the hand, rather wide for the time with deeply pleats in the back. We don't know what she wore with it but perhaps something similar to the silk hat now displayed with it.
Another American wedding gown from the Regency era surviving till today is the so called Schaffner Wedding Dress from 1824 x. This dress is also made of heavy silk but is more ornated than the previous. Particularly the sleeves are of interest as they are long with ebroidered cuffs and have the added feature of a puffed short sleeve atop the long one, embellished with a criss-cross pattern of figured silk, fastened with bone buttons. The model is otherwise rather plain, with drawstring ties at both neck and waist. This gown is quite wide and not as elegant as the previous one.
Finally we will have a look at the wedding dress of Emma Talbot y. She was married at Penrice Castle on 18th June 1833 in a white dress, very much in the style of what we today consider a traditional wedding dress. Emma's dress is made of cream silk net covering a silk satin undergown. It ornamented with wide brussel lace, fancy embroidery and wide satin ribbons. The dress is short, only 122 cm (48") from neck to hem, and although shorter dresses were in vogue 1830-35, even showing part of the calf, Emma must have been rather petite or the dress was remade at a later date for somebody else.
There are certainly other examples of wedding dresses in different collection, but what we have looked at makes it clear that the Regency writer that puts her heroine in a white wedding dress isn't as far off as we sometimes may think!
Below is a few prints found that cover the late Regency and beyound. The first print is from France, first published in a book called "Les Apprits D'un Mariage a Paris" by Pierre-Roch Vigneron around 1823 z. Reproduced here is a detail of plate #65 that shows the bride in a white silk dress and a long, white veil. Her dress has short puffed sleeves, a lace ruffle edges the decollage, the overdress is edged by lace trim and a white satin sach around the high waist. We even get a glimpse of the bride's petticoat, of thin linen trimmed with several rows of drawstring work.
The second image is of Miss [Catherine] Stephens aa dressed as Susanna in "The Marriage of Figaro." She first sung this roll in 1819, but judging by the slightly lower and fitted bodice of the gown, this portrait was probaly painted in 1827, when she toured England in this production bb. Note the white silk satin dress, heavily trimmed, and the white veil with a matching pointed edge.
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