Friday, February 3, 2012

A Bittersweet Ypsilanti Wedding, 2/3/1910

This February 3, 1910 account of a home wedding offers a look at the usual wedding customs of a century ago. Home weddings are the norm according to what I read in papers from this era. In fact I can't recall reading about any wedding that wasn't a home wedding, even for a well-off couple like this one--the bride was the daughter of successful Frog Island lumberyard owner and onetime mayor H. R. Scovill. Note the symbolic use of bittersweet.

"A pretty mid-winter wedding took place Wednesday evening at the home of Mr. and Mrs. H. R. Scovill [120 Washington] when their daughter, Genevieve, was united in marriage to [traveling salesman] Mr. Herbert A. Bisbee. The house was simply but effectively decorated with bittersweet, cut pine, and smilax. The impressive ring service was performed by Rev. William Gardam. As the groom is in mourning the guests were limited to the relatives and immediate friends.

"Preceding the cemetery the solo "O Promise Me" was rendered by Mr. William Ryer, after which the wedding march was played by Miss Mathilda Holmes, to the strains of which the bride entered the back parlor and proceeded through an isle of white satin ribbon, to the tower window, where the groom and best man were waiting. The marriage ceremony took place in front of a bank of palms and ferns with a background of white outlined with bittersweet berries. The bride was given away by her father. After congratulations a second solo "When thou art near" was rendered by Mr. Ryer.

"The bride was prettily attired in a gown of cream crepe de chine, entrain, and carried a shower bouquet of bride's roses and lilies of the valley. She was attended by her sister, Miss Laura Scovill, who was becomingly gowned in pale blue chiffon cloth with gold trimmings, and carried pink bride's roses. The groom was supported by Dr. H. H. Harper. A pretty feature of the ceremony was the carrying of a ring in the heart of a calla lily by Little Miss Catherine Boss of Imlay City, a cousin of the bride.

"After congratulations had been extended, a wedding supper was served in the dining room, which was decorated in pink and green. The color scheme was carried out with roses, carnations, and smilax.

"The large number of beautiful gifts including cut glass and silver, attest to the popularity of both bride and groom. Miss Scovill has lived in Ypsilanti all her life and has a wide circle of friends among the citizens. Mr. Bisbee, who has made his home in this city for the past few years, is well-liked and has made a host of friends who extend to him and his bride their best wishes.

"Mr. and Mrs. Bisbee left on the 9:12 [p.m.] train east for a short trip after which they will be at home, after March 1, at 801 West Congress Street (Michigan Ave.)."


Lisele said...

My question is about the smilax -- there's about 300 species. I wonder which was so common and so ornamental that it was referred to by the species name? Sounds like a wonderful, simple wedding. And so interesting that the groom was noted as "in mourning," yet a wedding was not precluded.

Dusty D said...

Lisele: I tried to find out for whom he was mourning but haven't yet; I was very curious to find out how long he had been mourning. Was the standard period a year? My understanding is that black is de rigeur for the first year after which ladies may wear dark lavender, called "second mourning" (yes, they had a word for this--it was lexicalized, or in other words, a "thing" in that culture). If I remember correctly.

The Victorians did not, however, ever discuss death using the odious term "closure." We had to develop an industrialized throwaway society and a lifetime of disposal of things as the norm in order to develop that hideous term.

Dusty D said...

Oh, and to actually answer your question, :) I don't know which kind of smilax.