The Victorian period was a time full of class, grace, elegance and romantic gestures – what better foundations to base a wedding around!
The era is defined as the period in history during the reign of Queen Victoria, from June 1837 until January 1901.
Until Queen Elizabeth II, Queen Victoria was the longest standing monarch in Britain. She took to the throne aged just 18 and after that reigned for nearly 64 years. The end of the Industrial Revolution brought mass migration to towns and cities. Therefore, she was certainly busy at the start of her reign keeping the peace and trying to reduce famine.
However, she did a good job and was well loved. As a result, many of the things she did became highly fashionable. For example, having a Christmas tree was not the norm until Victoria did it. Moreover, white wedding dresses were reserved for the highest classes.
Certainly, Queen Victoria was a well-admired monarch and we follow a lot of her traditions today.
An authentic setting will really top off a Victorian wedding theme on your big day. Search for Victorian churches, mansions, ballrooms, manor houses or inns around your area.
Moreover, you could consider venues with Victorian inspired exteriors and furnishings, if you can’t find a Victorian building. Firstly, whet your appetite with the venues listed below:
Hotel Felix in Cambridge is set in a grand Victorian villa. This all-inclusive venue has a gazebo set in stunning gardens. Furthermore, it offers a marquee which can be completely bespoke to your requirements.
In Thornbury, a half hour’s drive from Bristol, lies a Victorian country house. The Manor at Old Down Estate is set in 66 acres of land, both landscaped and parkland. In addition, the careful renovation of the rooms will make you feel like you have stepped back in time.
Having played host and home to many titled elite, De Vere Tortworth Estate in Gloucestershire has now opened as a hotel and wedding venue. Its stunning Grade II-listed orangery has a spectacular glass domed roof to let plenty of light filter through.
The Manor By The Lake is an exquisite use of Gothic architecture. The manor house in Cheltenham boasts a pavilion beside the lake outside and strong oak wood panelling inside.
Finally, for something completely different, consider getting wed at an abandoned railway station. Horsebridge Station is a unique Victorian wedding venue in Hampshire. Moreover, a 1922 resides on the remaining tracks, complete with memorabilia inside.
Outdoor Victorian Venue
In the Victorian times, most receptions were held at the bride’s house, and often spilt over into the garden. If you are unable to find a suitable authentic Victorian indoor reception venue, you could always consider a garden reception!
Look for formal or botanical gardens filled with classic plants such as roses and ivy. The Victorians loved ornate statues and fountains, so a grand garden including these would be perfect. Perhaps choose a venue with an outdoor ceremony licence on a beautiful lawn with a gazebo.
You could even consider creating a Victorian tea party reception in your own back garden. Seat your guests on picnic blankets beneath the trees, and serve fruit, scones and tea from a quaint china tea set.
The Victorians loved pinks, greens and golds, as well as rich blues, burgundy, and copper. Consider these colours when choosing your decorations.
Hunt for fine floral china and vases, lots of lace, sweet-smelling rosebuds and vintage cake-toppers to complement your theme. You could also see if you have any beautiful Victorian heirlooms in the family to use! After all, the famous adage “something old, something new” stems from Victorian times.
Brides could replicate the Queen herself and opt for accents of orange blossoms in their bouquet or as detailing on their dress or headpiece. For the Victorians, orange blossoms represented purity and fertility.
Decorate your reception venue with romantic blooms such as evergreens and blossoms. You could present then in antique vases and hold them in place with white lace. Another traditional floral option might be an elegant bouquet of roses.
When dressing tables, remember that the Victorians always covered the table legs! If your reception will be held in the evening, use oil lamps and candles for an authentic romantic glow. Fringed coasters and silk doilies are also excellent finishing touches.
Follow Victorian Traditions
Why not complete your theme by including a few Victorian wedding traditions?
In Victorian times, after the ceremony had taken place, the bride pinned favours of white ribbon, flowers, lace and silver leaves onto the ushers and bridesmaids shoulders as they left the church. Why not pin your own wedding flowers on your wedding party?
Victorians had not one, but three wedding cakes: an elaborate showstopper cake, and two smaller ones for the bride and groom. Traditionally the grand wedding cake consisted of rich fruitcake decorated with orange blossoms.
The bride’s and groom’s cakes on the other hand were not so extravagant. The bride’s was white and the groom’s dark. Both were cut into small pieces for the guests, and favours were placed inside for them to discover.
Meanwhile the rest of the wedding fare looked more akin to food we eat today. If the wedding was early in the day then a full English Breakfast was served. Similarly, a later reception would include a traditional Afternoon Tea with sandwiches and scones.
Certainly dinner would have been the biggest treat. Roast mutton and beef with other game meats and birds. Dessert would have been similarly lavish: plum pudding and mince pies. In short, they feasted! Moreover, this would make a treat for any wedding guest today.
Bridesmaids used to cover their heads with a veil which fell just below the hip. Come 1898 the bridesmaids had to wear a dress that contrasted with the colours of the brides dress and they ditched the veil. As we know, this is still a practice today!
Meanwhile the groom and his men would have worn a frockcoat with a waistcoat and cravat. To sum up the look he wore a top hat; this would look dashing at any modern day wedding.
Elegant, sweet and romantic, why not consider a Victorian wedding theme? Complete the look with an authentic venue, of course!