How to Be Married Without Getting Married in Regency Era Scotland ~ Guest Post by Collette Cameron

When Highlander’s Hope heroine, Yvette Stapleton finds herself married to the hero, Laird Ewan McTavish, without benefit of a marriage ceremony, she’s more than a bit put out. In fact, it nearly destroys her trust in him.

Couples hieing off to Gretna Green for a hasty marriage
A series of pictures depicting a couple’s hasty flight to Gretna Green and subsequent marriage. Via Wikimedia Commons

My quandary was how to get Yvette married to Ewan without her knowing it. Was it possible to simply say you were married in 1817 Scotland and, poof, you were indeed legally married? Would the marriage be recognized by the Church of Scotland?

Those are the thoughts that sprang into my mind one day while contemplating the dilemma. I wasn’t considering handfasting either, which by the 18th century, was no longer recognized by the Kirk (Church) of Scotland.

No, I needed something recognized by the Scot’s Church. I starting digging into Scot’s marriage laws of the 1800s and was pleased-as-punch to come across Scot’s Canon Code and irregular marriages. In essence, anyone could perform a marriage ceremony as long as the parties involved expressed consent to the union, either in person or in writing. Most romance readers are familiar with Gretna Green, and the romantic notion of couples trotting off to Scotland to get married—quite literally over a blacksmith’s anvil. Well, that was part of the Canon Code.

Irregular and clandestine marriages—those not performed by a cleric of the church—included simply agreeing to take one another as husband and wife before two witnesses (Gretna Green), cohabitating in Scotland under the ruse of being wed, and finally, by merely declaring you were married—even if no ceremony had taken place. You could also agree to marriage in writing with express consent. There was no particular form, either verbally or written, required for the marriage to be valid and binding.

Old_Blacksmiths_Shop_Gretna_Green
A Blacksmith Shop in Gretna Green – not required for Scottish marriages. via Wikimedia Commons

I arranged for Yvette and Ewan to claim they were married in the midst of a very dangerous situation in order to prevent Yvette from being ravished. I reinforced it by having Ewan declare to several kin and clans members that he and Yvette were married, and then I had them cohabitate at Craiglocky Keep under the guise of marriage. Yvette was unconscious for the first four days she was at Craiglocky, so she wasn’t in a position to protest the implied marriage.

I did take a bit of liberty with the code, but then, isn’t that what we authors do?  I’ve got another story fermenting in my mind, and I do believe I’m going to use the written agreement as an segue to an irregular marriage.

Just an aside, Gretna Green is still a wildly popular marriage venue in Scotland.  I have an unmarried daughter. She wants to get married in Scotland. . .

Excerpt from the Great Hall scene when Yvette discovers she’s legally married to Ewan.

Highlander's HopeEscape.

Yvette stood on unsteady legs, grasping the table’s edge for balance. She strove for poised composure, despite feeling like a powerless pawn in a despicable game of human chess, played for the amusement of those who enjoyed tragic endings at the expense of someone else’s happiness-no-their very existence.

The Great Hall radiated silent tension. All eyes were on her. She looked at the strangers staring at her, their eyes reflecting a myriad of emotions. Embarrassment, horror, dismay, pity, outrage, compassion, and yes—even a few smugly satisfied.

“You knew?” She looked to Hugh and Duncan, before swinging her gaze to Alasdair and Gregor. They bowed their heads in chagrin. Her turbid gaze swept the rest of Ewan’s family.

“You all knew?” Yvette searched Giselle’s sorrowful eyes, then Adaira’s tear-filled ones. “You must think me such a fool.” Her agonized whisper exposed her vulnerability. Her shame. Her absolute humiliation.

Ewan touched her arm. “Evvy—”

She whirled around. “Don’t you touch me,” she hissed between stiff lips.

Yvette knew her gaze was a mirror of desolation when she finally met his eyes. “How could you?” she whispered. “I trusted you.” She’d never make that mistake again.

He reached for her again. “Please . . .”

She slapped away his hand. “Don’t.”

She clenched her teeth to still her quivering mouth and chin. Closing her eyes against the torrent of tears cascading down her face, she drew in a bracing breath.

Lord, give me the strength to walk from this room with my head held high.

On wooden legs, she stepped away from her chair.

Ewan grasped her elbow, restraining her. “Evvy, I don’t know what she told you, but . . .”

Collette CameronCollette Cameron, a Pacific Northwest native, was born and raised in a small town along the northern Oregon coast, which to this day, continues to remain one of her favorite retreats. An enthusiast of times gone by, Collette currently writes Regency historical romance. 

You can find out more about Collette by visiting her author page, www.collettecameron.com. If you found this article and excerpt interesting, you might also want to learn more about her most recent book, Highlander’s Hope.

 

Old Lovers, Make-Me-Love-You Heroes, and Marriages of Convenience

Vanessa here, opining for love.

I found a bit of time to read this weekend. For me, that would be a Regency novel. Obvious huh. As I looked at my two-decade-old collection, I started thinking about the types of plots I really love. Three stood out: Old Lovers, Make-Me-Love-You Heroes, and Marriages of Convenience.

Old Lovers

While I enjoy the whole “find a stranger/ love a stranger” aspect of most novels, the Old Lovers: loved once, love lost, love regained, really appeals to me. I recently finished Flight of Fancy, and the richness of the history between Cassandra Bainbridge and the Earl of Whittaker makes the story. It adds a subtle tension through the whole book, causing even mundane actions like Whitaker walking away from Cassandra to contemplate banging his head against the window in frustration, sexy.  I wouldn’t feel his pain, if I didn’t know how long he’s loved her and his confusion of how to win her back. I wouldn’t sigh as I see Cassandra noticing Whittaker leaning against the window and noting he’s not gangly any more but well-set, all man now. Hubba Hubba.

And I’ll say it.  You can’t get away with “Lessman” like passion starting on page 1 with strangers, unless of course, this is a bodice ripper Regency, but we don’t write that here.  🙂

On my radar to read, Mary Moore’s Beauty in Disguise.  Seems that old lovers, Lady Katryn and Lord Dalton have a story to tell in the woods.

The Make-Me-Love-You Hero

What is a make-me-love you hero?  This is an intelligent swarthy hero with a smidge of alpha-male arrogance. I know what you’re saying. “Arrogance, really Vanessa. I don’t want to read about a stuck-up hero. ”

Let me explain. Yes, a touch of arrogance is a requirement. It causes him to be deluded into believing he alone can save the heroine from all her woes. This adds to his fall or black moment.  It changes him forever. It will make his “somewhat loose bond to God” stronger, more personal, more real.

Oh, he must also be smothered in a big dollop of humor, particularly, self-deprecating humor.  It’s a rare combination like a handcrafted tea, but when you find him, you’ll drink him in, reading him over and over again.

And it goes without saying, he must be romantic. I need him to whisk me off my feet and carry me to safety after he bests the footpads. He should whisper sweet Latin or poetry or verses penned by Solomon in my ear to soothe my nerves.  Then at the right moment, his rough knuckles will traverse my jaw, tipping my chin to the right angle to kiss me ’til I nearly faint. Or at least he’d want to but his gentlemanly manners prevented it.

Who are these men? You’ve met them: Mr. Knightly (though he needs more humor) of Emma, Mr. Darcy (after he falls for Elizabeth) of Pride and Prejudice, Dominick Cherrett (from start to finish) of Lady in the Mist, Adam Drake of A Proper Marriage(Zebra-Traditional Regency), and  Justain Delveaux of Madeline’s Protector (Ok, you’ll get to meet him in April).  There are so many more that I can’t do this post justice.

Sigh, sorry I was in my happy place thinking of these heroes, back to Regency Reflections. P.S. please comment with more Make-Me-Love-You Regency heroes. I need to add to my bucket list.

On my Radar: Major Gerrit Hawkes of the Rogue’s Redemption. I hear he’s a naughty guy turned good by the love of a good woman and a good God.

Marriage of Convenience

As I said before finding love with a stranger can be stirring. Nonetheless, having to marry said stranger before you knew you loved him is positively fascinating. The idea of marrying a stranger is probably making you cringe. This complete loss of control in a matter of the heart would lead to many hours of prayer and/or counseling. Yet, did you know that the average divorce rate of arranged marriages is 6%1?  Did you know the average divorce rate amongst Christians (those who regularly attend church) is 38%, 60% for Christians who don’t attend church regularly 2. So let’s not scoff at these marriages based upon factors other than love.

Let Me Explain What a (Regency) Marriage of Convenience is and What it is Not.

A marriage of convenience is a real marriage, not a fake one. It must be officiated like every other marriage, with licenses, banns, etc. In Regency times, these were marriages for life. There is no “let’s get married” for a few years and then divorce. As a matter of fact, there is practically no divorce. Unless the husband continually cheated with the wife’s sister to the point the wife could not forgive him and was constantly reminded of the infidelity, Parliament saw no reason to grant a divorce. Thus, divorces were extremely rare in England since it had to be sanctioned by Parliament.

There was such a thing as a Church Divorce. This was not a legal divorce but a separation ordained by the church. This did not dissolve the marriage or allow someone to marry another. It was just a civilized way to separate.  Women needed to be particularly careful in this situation. The husband could keep custody of the children, as it was his right to decide where the minors would live.  He could prevent her from ever seeing them. Under a Church Divorce, the husband could do the bare minimum to provide for the wife. Again not a good situation for the wife.

A marriage of convenience did not have to involve a compromised party. It might just be convenient. I truly love, when a hero accidentally or purposely compromises the heroine and is now forced to save her (and his) honor(s) and must marry the heroine. Yet, this is just one contrivance. They may decide to marry to fulfill the requirements for an inheritance, to join lands, to protect the heroine, a parent’s dying wish, or an overly complex and contrived plot.  Many reasons, just not for love.

A marriage of convenience does not mean no nookie. This was a real marriage with a marriage bed. As Hebrews 13:4 says, “The Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled.”  So if the parties are inclined or they needed an heir…. Well, you get the picture.

Alas, most of my favorite Marriage of Convenience stories are found in the old  traditional Regencies (Inspy’s we need more of these): The earl and countess of Sanborn in the Perfect Mistress (Bantam), the  earl and countess Faulconer of A Convenient Marriage (Zebra), the earl and countess of Slenford of The Earl’s Mistaken Bride (Love Inspired).

On my radar, Marriage of Inconvenience by Cheryl Bolen.  Is the practical marriage of the Earl and Countess of Ansley doomed or just beginning? I’m going to have to find out.

References

  1. UNICEF, Human Rights Council, ABC News, 8/12/2012
  2. Bradley R.E. Wright, Christians Are Hate-Filled Hypocrites …and Other Lies You’ve Been Told, (Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House, 2010), p. 133.

Christmas Bells (December Bells) Are Ringing

When I think of Christmas Time, the lilt of bells and the memories I associate with them flood my mind. A warmth grips me, hugging me tighter than my best spencer. To me, bells always sound happy, giving an ethereal lightness and glow to the heart of the hearer. I prefer the sounds of cast bells. Their song is richer and more full-bodied than their thin sheet-metal cousins.

England is steeped in both, and bell-ringing is a part of the culture and history. The tradition of casting English bells predates the Middle Ages. Today, two of her best bellfounders survive, Taylors of Loughborough (1400) and Mears and Stainbank of Croydon (1570).

Moreover, bells and bell-ringing played a role in Regency life.  Bells rang to announce a church service. This service would be on Christmas Day as oppose to the Christmas Eve masses we are accustomed to.

I can imagine hearing the peal (the loud prolonged ringing) of St. George’s eight hemispherical bells tolling on the morn of December 25. Maybe the bell ringers would perform a change ringing where they would display a festive pattern of bell tolls.  It wouldn’t be a familiar holiday tune but an exquisite series of tones set to a rhythm indicative of the ringers’ skills. Change ringing is still popular today, in England and around the world.

Church bells would also ring for weddings. Although, it would probably be unusual (in my opinion), I couldn’t find any prohibitions to having a Christmas Day wedding. If Christmas fell on a Sunday after the banns have been successfully read, what cleric would stop the couple and delay the ringing of another successful match?

Amidst the joy, bells of London could also possess a seamy side. They are said to have been rung at Bethlehem Hospital (Bedlam) announcing to gawkers to come stare at the mentally unstable patients. I would hope that Christmas Day would be spared, but not the whole of December.

Perhaps after leaving St. George’s, if I were walking toward a coffee shop, a Morris dancer (or a troupe of Morris dancers) would perform in front of me. The bells strapped below their knees would tinkle with each of their merry steps. The Morris dancer tradition dates back to 15th Century in England. Its earliest notations suggests it was a dance that both men and women could partake in, but at the time of the Regency, it was mostly a male endeavor.

Walking a little farther, I might hear bells strapped to a horse team or the ringing of bells on residences which have not installed a doorknocker.   Those households wouldn’t have the advance warning of the importance of their visitor, as a footman’s successive knocks would detail, just the egalitarian jingle for all who darken their thresholds. Well, hopefully these homes are prepared for all coming to sup for Christmas dinner.

Trudging a little farther, I hear a dull peal, one laced with sorrow. Bells were also used to announce deaths. Continuing a tradition started in the Middle Ages, church bells were rung to drive away evil spirits from the departed souls. My heart breaks for anyone losing a loved one, particularly during a season meant for love of family and friends. My continued prayer is for the families of Newtown, Connecticut. Here at Regency Reflections/ChristianRegency.com our hearts are broken, too.  The ringing of twenty-six bells are too many.

References:

RWA’s Beau Monde Chapter

Oxford’s City Branch of Church Bell Ringers

Central Council of Church Bell Ringers

Forrest, John. The History of Morris Dancing, 1483–1750. Cambridge: James Clarke & Co Ltd, 1999.

 

With this Ring… in Gretna Green?

When my husband and I were married some twelve years ago, there were few impediments for us to reach the altar as soon as we wished to. He knelt down on one knee to ask me, I gave an enthusiastic “Yes!” and almost immediately afterwards, we began making our joyful plans.

Besides the all important wedding gown, the perfect candlelit venue and the explosion of decisions that had to be made, we focused little on what the government required for our union and more on how we would put our personal mark on the day we’d pledge our future lives to each other. In fact, we lived in a location that had minimal government restrictions – we were citizens of the country and were of legal age so we had but to file with the county official’s office and in turn, would have been required to wait only 24 hours before making our walk down the aisle.

In researching Regency Era marriage for a recent book project, it was fascinating to learn how different our options would have been had we lived in England some 200 years ago.

Of course the differences in how an eligible young lady would have made her social debut, how a young man and woman would meet and how courting would commence is in stark contrast to what we know today. But as for government, it’s interesting to find that there is just as much government restriction on the act of marriage (and just as much dodging of said restrictions) as there would have been in force during the Regency Era.

Country road in Gretna Green, Scotland (Photo: Wiki Commons)

The first of these restrictions involved the literal “Las Vegas” of the day – or Gretna Green, Scotland. It was to this elopement location that many couples embarked upon a journey along the Great North Road from London in order to quickly exchange their vows. Similar to the little wedding chapels that one might find along Nevada’s famous neon strip, the tiny village of Gretna Green became the virtual Vegas of its day.

It lies just over the border to Scotland and at the time, became a famous spot for couples escaping the 1754 Lord Hardwicke Marriage Act that was still in effect in the Regency years. The British government dictated that a couple must have parental consent to marry if under twenty-one years of age. In contrast, Scotland’s age for eligible marriage was just sixteen. This led to many couples fleeing up the road on a days-long journey to traverse the border and become a Mr. and Mrs. both quickly and legally.

With this ring… (Photo: Wiki Commons)

Another stark contrast in Hardwicke’s Act dictated the waiting period required to be married in satisfaction to the church. In the Regency Era, Hardwicke’s Act would have compelled couples to be married in a parish building by an ordained minister.  By Scottish law, a man and woman could be married with virtually no notice and required only to make a commitment before two witnesses in order to make their marriage contract binding. This spurred the act of marriages performed by “anvil priests”, or blacksmiths that acted as marriage officiates in the village for runaway marriages. [Click here for more information on anvil priests.]

Another practice for a couple wishing to be married in the Church of England was the reading of the banns of marriage (also known as “banns”). This proclamation of marriage was announced publicly within the church for three weeks in succession prior to a marriage taking place (mainly so that anyone citing a credible reason that the marriage should not take place would have adequate notice to make such a stand against the union). Today, a couple may be required to participate in marriage counseling or take classes to satisfy the requirements of a particular church or denomination, but the requirement would be independent of government decree. In addition, couples may declare their intent to marry by proclaiming their engagement in a public announcement, newspaper article or engagement party, though these practices are social in nature and are not dictated as a requirement by the government. For those traveling to Gretna Green, no such proclamation was expected or required.

It is interesting to note that now more than 200 years after the time of these original runaway marriages, Gretna Green remains an extremely popular wedding venue. In fact, it is estimated that one in six Scottish marriages occur in the small village made famous for its take on marriage minus the control of government.

Today, a wedding ring is a must. The making of a marriage promise is still a lifelong commitment. And whether or not we travel to Gretna Green to exchange the all important vows or whether we follow the requirements of the government in the locale where we live, we still say “with this ring…” with as much heart as those couples would have all those years ago.

May we find joy in the union just as they did.

In His Love,

~ Kristy

 

How to Hold a Regency Wedding Ceremony

Vanessa here,

My fellow bloggers just finished a great month of marriage posts, so I thought I’d share one more on the actual ceremony.

How to have a Regency Wedding Ceremony

Prelude to a Wedding

Your hero has asked the heroine to marry him. This could be from the love bubbling in his heart or the flintlock pointed at his back for compromising the lady.

Your hero and heroine (who is of age 21 or has parental consent – the flintlock will take care of that one) must wait for their ceremony:

  1. Three Sundays for the Banns to be published typically in the morning service of the parish to where the ceremony is to take place.
  2. If you hero hales from a separate parish, the banns must be read in both places otherwise the hero and heroine must wait for this to occur and be attested to by each Curate.
  3. In a pinch, they can apply for a special license, but a compromised groom is in no hurry.

The day has come. The couple breezes through the ceremony and the Groom plants a kiss upon her lips. Wrong! Wrong!

The ceremony is quite long and more importantly, there is no, “You may now kiss your bride.”

According to the Church of England Common Book of Prayers, which would have been used for all English weddings performed during the Regency, the ceremony is long and there is no exchanging of rings (only a single ring is given) and no kissing. Therefore, if your Groom kisses the Bride, it is bold and should be written like that, but I digress.

The only touching is what I call the dance of hands. At several points during the ceremony the Groom, the Bride, and the Vicar hold and exchange hands.

Back to the Wedding Ceremony

The wedding is taking place between 8 in the morning and noon in a church. The Bride’s mother won’t allow her to escape, and her father still has his flintlock trained on the Groom.  So let’s begin the ceremony.

The Vicar will open his book, The Book of Common Prayers and say:

DEARLY beloved, we are gathered together here in the sight of God, and in the face of this congregation, to join together this Man and this Woman in holy Matrimony; which is an honourable estate, instituted of God in the time of man’s innocency, signifying unto us the mystical union that is betwixt Christ and his Church; which holy estate Christ adorned and beautified with his presence, and first miracle that he wrought, in Cana of Galilee; and is commended of Saint Paul to be honourable among all men: and therefore is not by any to be enterprised, nor taken in hand, unadvisedly, lightly, or wantonly, to satisfy men’s carnal lusts and appetites, like brute beasts that have no understanding; but reverently, discreetly, advisedly, soberly, and in the fear of God; duly considering the causes for which Matrimony was ordained.

First, it was ordained for the procreation of children, to be brought up in the fear and nurture of the Lord, and to the praise of his holy Name.

Secondly, it was ordained for a remedy against sin, and to avoid fornication; that such persons as have not the gift of continency might marry, and keep themselves undefiled members of Christ’s body.

Thirdly, It was ordained for the mutual society, help, and comfort, that the one ought to have of the other, both in prosperity and adversity. Into which holy estate these two persons present come now to be joined.

Therefore, if any man can show any just cause, why they may not lawfully be joined together, let him now speak, or else hereafter for ever hold his peace.

If the bride’s true love wishes to interrupt with proof that the Groom is married in Scotland, now is the time. Or the Bride’s dead husband can now stagger into the church from his return from the Peninsula War. Ok, these don’t hold with our compromised scenario from above but if someone is going to interject and stop this Regency wedding, now is the time.

No one? Well let’s continue.

 The Vicar will now speak to the Groom and the Bride:

 I REQUIRE and charge you both, as ye will answer at the dreadful day of judgment when the secrets of all hearts shall be disclosed, that if either of you know any impediment, why ye may not be lawfully joined together in Matrimony, ye do now confess it. For be ye well assured, that so many as are coupled together otherwise than God’s Word doth allow are not joined together by God; neither is their Matrimony lawful.

 At which day of Marriage, if any man do allege and declare any impediment, why they may not be coupled together in Matrimony, by God’s Law, or the Laws of this Realm; and will be bound, and sufficient sureties with him, to the parties; or else put in a Caution (to the full value of such charges as the persons to be married do thereby sustain) to prove his allegation: then the solemnization must be deferred, until such time as the truth be tried.

So the Vicar has now given them one last chance to fess up. No one does, so he continues:

Groom’s full name WILT thou have this Woman to thy wedded Wife, to live together after God’s ordinance in the holy estate of Matrimony? Wilt thou love her, comfort her, honour, and keep her in sickness and in health; and, forsaking all other, keep thee only unto her, so long as ye both shall live?

The Groom takes a gulp then answers: I will.

Then the vicar will say to the bride:

Bride’s full name WILT thou have this Man to thy wedded Husband, to live together after God’s ordinance in the holy estate of Matrimony? Wilt thou obey him, and serve him, love, honour, and keep him in sickness and in health; and, forsaking all other, keep thee only unto him, so long as ye both shall live?

The Bride shall answer: I will.  That right ladies, this is the origin of those ‘obey’ words.  So authors don’t modernize and omit those words because you want to show your heroine doesn’t conform.

Then the vicar will ask: Who giveth this Woman to be married to this Man?

  Now starts the dance of the hands:

 The Vicar, receiving the bride at her father’s or friend’s hands, shall cause the groom with his right hand to take the Woman by her right hand, and to say after him as followeth:

I Groom’s full name take thee Bride’s full name to my wedded Wife, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death us do part, according to God’s holy ordinance; and thereto I plight thee my troth.

Then they loose their hands; and the Woman, with her right hand taking the Man by his right hand, shall likewise say after the Minister,

 I Bride’s full name take thee Groom’s full name to my wedded Husband, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love, cherish, and to obey, till death us do part, according to God’s holy ordinance; and thereto I give thee my troth.

 Then they again loose their hands; and the Groom shall give unto the Bride a Ring, laying the same upon the book with the accustomed duty to the Vicar and Clerk. And the Vicar, taking the Ring, shall deliver it unto the Groom, to put it upon the fourth finger of the Bride’s left hand. And the Groom holding the Ring there, and taught by the Vicar, shall say:

 WITH this Ring I thee wed, with my Body I thee worship, and with all my worldly Goods I thee endow: In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.

Then the Groom will put the Ring upon the fourth finger of the Bride’s left hand, and they shall both kneel down.

 For all writers going into this much detail, don’t forget the kneeling or the ring. An engagement ring was not common back then, but a gift may have been given to signify the betrothal. Anything given before marriage could potential stay with the bride’s family if for some reason, the bride doesn’t live long enough to have children from this union. I’m just saying, since this is a compromised marriage. However, the bride must have a ring for the ceremony. These rings could be made from any metal, even brass.

  Then the Vicar will lead everyone in prayer. No, they are not married yet.

Let us pray. O ETERNAL God, Creator and Preserver of all mankind, Giver of all spiritual grace, the Author of everlasting life; Send thy blessing upon these thy servants, this Man and this Woman, whom we bless in thy Name; that, as Isaac and Rebecca lived faithfully together, so these persons may surely perform and keep the vow and covenant betwixt them made, (whereof this Ring given and received is a token and pledge,) and may ever remain in perfect love and peace together, and live according to thy laws; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Then the Vicar shall join their right hands together, and say: Those whom God hath joined together let no man put asunder.

Then the vicar shall speak unto the people gathered:

 FORASMUCH as Groom’s full name. and Bride’s full name. have consented together in holy Wedlock, and have witnessed the same before God and this company, and thereto have given and pledged their troth either to other, and have declared the same by giving and receiving of a Ring, and by joining of hands; I pronounce that they be Man and Wife together, In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.

Alas, the Regency Bride and Regency Groom are married.

Ok, your groom and bride persevered, but the ceremony is not over.

The Vicar shall add this Blessing:

GOD the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Ghost, bless, preserve, and keep you; the Lord mercifully with his favour look upon you; and so fill you with all spiritual benediction and grace, that ye may so live together in this life, that in the world to come ye may have life everlasting. Amen.

 Then the Vicar will move to the Lord’s Table and shall sing this Psalm 128.

BLESSED are all they that fear the Lord: and walk in his ways.

For thou shalt eat the labour of thine hands: O well is thee, and happy shalt thou be. Thy wife shall be as the fruitful vine: upon the walls of thine house; Thy children like the olive-branches: round about thy table.

Lo, thus shall the man be blessed: that feareth the Lord. The Lord from out of Sion shall so bless thee: that thou shalt see Jerusalem in prosperity all thy life long;

Yea, that thou shalt see thy children’s children: and peace upon Israel.Glory be to the Father, and to the Son: and to the Holy Ghost; As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be: world without end. Amen.

 Your wedding is still not done. The Vicar will now lead everyone through Psalm 67 and additional blessings for procreation. See: http://www.christianregency.com/Research/Regency-Weddings/Marriage.pdf for more.

Amended to add the Register

This is not the couples list of goodies/presents gifted for there new marital status but an important document signed at the end of the ceremony.

My dear friend Nancy has pointed out this important step. (Thank you) The couple, the vicar, and witnesses must  sign the register in the parish after the church wedding. Without this vital step, the long drawn out process is for naught. Without signatory proof (with correct full names), the marriage ceremony may be counted invalid.

Ok, now….

The beleaguered man and wife will leave the church for the wedding breakfast held at a friend’s house. After this long ceremony, they need a good meal.

References

Church of England Common Book of Prayers

http://impulsivehearts.wordpress.com/2011/10/11/a-regency-marriage-primer/

http://www.christianregency.com/Research/Regency-Weddings/Marriage.pdf

An Alternative Elopement

Wanting to spare the heroine from an arranged marriage to an ogre, the hero suggests that he marries her and they elope. The heroine agrees, since she has had a tendre for the hero since she was a schoolgirl. Unfortunately, the 1754 Hardwick Marriage Act has stiffened the laws of marriage. The heroine hasn’t yet reached her majority and they can’t take the time to obtain a special license in London. Waiting for the banns to be called is out of the question, as that will take three weeks and the parents and ogre suitor will catch up with them long before then, even if they can obtain parental permission for the under age—under twenty-one—heroine. Their only alternative is to elope to Gretna Green in Scotland.

Unfortunately again, Scotland is close to four hundred miles away. They must hire a post chase or go on horseback and, because the journey will likely take more than a week to accomplish, they will have to stay overnight before they are married, unacceptable to these two proper—other than eloping—young people. The situation appears hopeless.

Except it isn’t. The hero has some friends amongst the fishermen who have told him about carrying an eloping couple to an alternative marriage location.

Eloping in Style

In approximately fifteen hours of sailing,
the eloping couple can reach one of the Channel Islands, mainly the Island of Guernsey. Evidence presents us with the knowledge that boats waited at Southampton, Hampshire, to carry eloping couples across the channel. Logic says Plymouth, Falmouth, and a few other southern ports just might have provided the same service.

Guernsey is closer to France than England. Although it belongs to England, many of the laws differ from those of England. The marriage laws are one of those even today.

So many couples eloped to Guernsey that tracking the history of residents of the island has proven difficult, for distinguishing those who simply arrived in St. Peter Port to get married in haste, from those who lived on the island and married in the same parish, isn’t easy two hundred years later. Genealogists have focused on whether or not couples later baptized their children in that same parish in order to trace ancestry to Guernsey.

Nowadays, one does not need a license to marry in a Church of England ceremony on Guernsey. One does need a license for a civil ceremony on Guernsey.

So if your couple finds themselves hundreds of miles from Gretna Green, they can hop onto a fishing boat, or perhaps the hero’s yacht, and sail across the Narrow Sea to a channel island. First, however, he might wish to ensure that the heroine doesn’t get seasick on the way.

Laurie Alice Eakes

May I Have This Dance?

Gentle Readers, I’d like to take a moment to introduce you to the newest member of the Regency Reflections family! You can learn more about Kristy L. Cambron on the Blog Editor bio page. We’re so excited to have her with us. Welcome, Kristy!

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The ball at Netherfield, Pride and Prejudice (2005)

I love the power of dance to drop a layer of enchantment over a room.

I can recall one of the first things I said to my husband on our wedding reception dance floor. The lights had been dimmed and as the notes of our special song played, I whispered: “And my dance card will always be full...”

I meant it. For all the years my husband and I would share after that moment, I knew my future dances would always have a special partner.

Stunning dresses. Dapper gentlemen. Ladies hidden behind their fans. Lively music and sophisticated steps… Today that all-important first dance may be synonymous with the wedding celebration, but the Regency ballroom was just as alive with color and spirit as our reception dance floors are today.

Or dare I say, more so?

Though weddings were primarily private family affairs in the Regency (as opposed to the social events we see today), ballrooms and wedding parties alike were brought to life by vivid dance reels and lively music. After all, the ball was the social event by which all others were judged. Moreover, to grasp a partner’s hand in dance was often the only socially acceptable touch between an unmarried man and woman.

Affection was born and engagements followed, all over the steps of the most popular dances of the day…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

~ The Cotillion

Distinguishing characteristics: Originated in France during the 18th century. Includes four couples dancing in square formations with elaborate steps and changing partners. French for petticoat, the term cotillion was said to have been coined after the flash of petticoats that could be seen as partners swiftly changed on the dance floor.

Interesting Fact: Georgette Heyer’s historical romance, Cotillion (1953), is one of her much loved Regency novels. Though a generally cheery novel, the title is mirrored in a story that centers around the overlapping love lives of four couples (much like the steps of the cotillion dance itself).

 

~ The Quadrille

Distinguishing characteristics: Another dance import from France. Similar to the cotillion, it includes four couples dancing in square sets but omits the repeating “chorus” dance. Was later combined with the popular waltz to form a hybrid of the two dances, the Waltz Cotillion (as seen in this video – click HERE).

Interesting fact: Introduced early in the Regency and immensely popular by 1815, the quadrille was a very lively dance that often adapted music from stage plays and was thought to be quite flirtatious at the time.  A form of the quadrille can still be seen today in modern day square dancing.

~ La Boulanger

Distinguishing characteristics: A simpler dance for three couples. Often used as the last dance of the evening at a ball or party.

Interesting fact: As many dances could include quite intricate steps, dance masters were often hired by wealthier families to educate their children on the art of the popular dances. (A very popular dance master of the day was Thomas Wilson, who published many influential books on the art of dancing and etiquette.) For you Jane Austen fans, la Boulanger was a favorite of the authoress and was a dance declared by name in her novels.

 

~ The Waltz

Distinguishing characteristics: First popular in Vienna (1780s) but introduced to the English ballroom during the Regency. New sensation but slow to catch on because of the “closeness” enjoyed by two dancing partners.

Interesting fact: The waltz caused a bit of a scandal when it first popped onto the English ballroom scene around 1810. Because of the close proximity shared by two dancing partners, the embrace was thought improper and in fact, was often ridiculed by early opponents. In 1825, the Oxford English Dictionary actually defined the waltz as “riotous and indecent”. (Boyd Hilton, A Mad, Bad, and Dangerous People? England 1783–1846 (Oxford U P 2006).

 

Feet tapping for more references? Here are some good ones:

Click [HERE] to see an example of a stunning Regency Era ball gown.

Click [HERE] to hear samples of Regency Era dance music.

Click [HERE] to learn more about Regency dances from the Jane Austen Centre at Bath.

 

Whether it was one of the English country dances with the fun names (such as the “Teasing Made Easy”) or the classic Minuet, our Regency friends certainly knew how to fill up their dance cards.

May we always find ours full as well.

~ Kristy

 

A Funny Thing Happened On the Way to the Altar

Everyone screws up occasionally. The epicness of your less than perfect moment can often be tied to the significance and size of the event at which it occurs. Stepping on your hairbrush and wiping out in your bathroom can be excessively painful, but the embarrassment factor is rather low. Tumbling down the ramp at your high school graduation can haunt you for the rest of your life, leading the highlight reel at every class reunion.

Engraving of the wedding of Albert and Victoria
Photo via Wiki Commons

Kristi here and there is perhaps no grander stage to mess up on than a wedding. Emotions are high, stress abounds, and months (sometimes years) of careful planning is being set in motion. While everyone is praying for four perfect hours of ceremony and reception, that is rarely the case.

Check around on YouTube or watch a few episodes of America’s Funniest Videos and you’ll be able to start a list of common wedding maladies:

The Fainter

Fainting in the middle of the church, 1811
Photo via Wiki Commons

Sometimes it’s the groom, often it’s a groomsman. Every now and then it’s the bride. Funniest one I’ve ever seen? The priest.

If you go to a lot of weddings, you’ve probably seen a fainter. They start to blink and then sway just a bit and then next thing you know, their knees give way and everyone does their best impression of dominos. (By the way, if you’re in a wedding make sure you eat breakfast that morning and don’t lock your knees. That lessens your chances of becoming the fainter!)

You can see some great faints in this video. Most of them are from weddings.

The Wayward Kid

I have considerable experience with this one. I was one.

As the flower girl for my cousin’s wedding, I thought I was hot stuff. Unfortunately, I almost became really hot stuff when I became curious about what would happen if I stepped on the base of an enormous candelabra. No, I didn’t burn the church down, but I think I caused a moment or two of horror.

Flames from two candles
Photo via Wiki Commons

Kids  are adorable and make for some really cute pictures, but they are also unpredictable. You never know when they’ll decide to eat the flower petals or obtain a massive case of stage fright.

The Guests

Wedding at St GeorgesThere are many other opportunities to embarrass yourself at a wedding (and given the propensity of brides to hire photographers and videographers, these moments are captured for posterity). Even if you are only a guest, you aren’t immune to being caught up in the wedding disaster hall of fame. Dance floor escapades, bouquet toss brawls, and unplanned toasts are all fodder for the awkward situation generator.

Got a few guests who’ve indulged too much at the open bar? The chances of chagrin inducing capers increase exponentially.

My Altar Moment

Kristi and Husband at Wedding
Me and My Hubby, nine years ago

I have to say, though, that I’ve never heard of someone else having the same experience as I did. I’ve heard of flubbed up vows, tongue-tied grooms, and ministers forgetting their notes, but I think I’m fairly unique in my story.

Fortunately, it wasn’t me, although I nearly caught the giggles, which would have made the rest of the ceremony very difficult.

What happened? Well, the minister called my husband a woman. He said, “Do you, Kristi, take this woman…” I very nearly lost it. In his defense, the poor man was very nervous. As a dear friend of the family, he was worried about making a mistake in the middle of the wedding. And then he did.

His own daughter is getting married this weekend. I don’t think he’s officiating the ceremony.

What about you?

Have you been to a wedding where things didn’t quite go as planned? What hilarity ensued at your own wedding?

Happy Leap Year Day!

 

Leap Year A La Regency

Thirty days hath September, 
April, June and November; 
All the rest have thirty-one, 
Excepting February alone 
Which hath but twenty-eight, in fine, 
Till leap year gives it twenty-nine. 

Just as young people desiring to bypass all the rigmarole to get married in Regency England could hightail it to Scotland, women could also thank the Scots for making it a law allowing women to propose to men one day a year, every four years on Feb. 29.

Tradition has it that this law came on the books back in 1288—and that if a man turned a woman down, he must pay a fine, anything from a kiss to a pair of gloves or even a silk dress. Another tradition has it that the spurned woman must be wearing a visible red petticoat if she wanted the fine paid. Tradition aside, there is no written evidence on the books of Scottish Parliament’s having passed such a law.

Another legend has it that it was over in fifth century Ireland that St. Brigit asked St. Patrick to allow women to propose to men, since, supposedly, men were laggards in this area. After a bit of negotiating, St. Paddy allowed it every four years on Leap Year Day.

The American Farmer, published in 1827, quotes this passage from a 1606 volume entitled Courtship, Love and Matrimonie:

Albeit, it is nowe become a parte of the Common Lawe, in regard to the social relations of life, that as often as every bissectile year doth return, the Ladyes have the sole privilege, during the time it continueth, of making love unto the men, which they may doe either by wordes or lookes, as unto them it seemeth proper; and moreover, no man will be entitled to the benefit of Clergy who dothe refuse to accept the offers of a ladye, or who dothe in any wise treate her proposal withe slight or contumely.

So, wherever or however the tradition developed, by the time of the regency, Leap Year as a year or a day of female initiative in the romantic sphere was well-known. 1812, 1816 and 1820 were all leap years. Even though the Gregorian calendar had made the bissextile year (having an extra day) official back in 1582, Britain ignored the date of Feb. 29, so legally it didn’t exist. British law conveniently “leaped over” the date, probably because of so many negative superstitions associated with it, especially concerning livestock and crops. Ignoring this day resulted in a tradition of “anything goes”—hence women proposing to men. According to the Encyclopedia Americana 2004 Edition (Volume 17), King Henry VIII’s reign had an English law passed making February 28 the official birthday of “leaplings” or “leapers,” those born on Leap Year Day .

LEAP YEAR, OR JOHN BULL’S PEACE ESTABLISHMENT

[Published March, 1816, by S. W. Fores, 50, Piccadilly]

This British political cartoon satirizes the royal marriage of Princess Charlotte of Wales (the Prince Regent’s daughter) to Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg on May 2, 1816.

The British Parliament settled £60,000 on the newlyweds, with £50,000 more for the prince should his bride pass away. The cartoon depicts the English nation on its hands and knees, a bit in his mouth, driven by Her Royal Highness with a horsewhip.

John Bull is the national personification of England, the way “Uncle Sam” is to the United States. He is loaded down with packages labeled with all the heavy tax burdens imposed on the populace at the time. After more than a quarter century of war with France, Britain’s people were financially exhausted. The Prince Regent’s extravagant lifestyle and building projects only filled them with disgust and caused a growing number of riots (one reason the Prince Regent preferred spending time at his seaside retreat, the Royal Pavilion at Brighton).

In the cartoon, Prince Regent George supports himself on crutches formed of dragons from his Brighton money pit. “Push on!” he shouts, “Preach economy! And when you have got your money, follow my example.” “Oh! my back,” groans John, crawling under the weight of his heavy burdens. “I never can bear it! This will finish me.”


 Sources: English Caricaturists and Graphic Humourists of the Nineteenth Century/Chapter 3, Wikisource.org; Smithsonian Magazine.com; http://www.altiusdirectory.com/Society/leap-year.html; http://www.historic-uk.com/CultureUK/Leap-Year-Superstitions/; http://urbanlegends.about.com/od/historical/a/leap_year_2.htm; http://voices.yahoo.com/leap-year-2008-history-facts-798349.html?cat=37

 

 

Wedding Hotspots in Regency England

Naomi here, and we’re talking about weddings today. More particularly, wedding hotspots. In today’s society, destination weddings seem to be growing in popularity. A person can’t just get married in a church anymore. Oh no. We have to fly to Hawaii, trade vows on a Jamaican beach at sunset, or visit the Florida keys in order to have the perfect wedding. Does anyone get married in a plain old church anymore?

In Regency England, church weddings were all the rage. They had to be. It was illegal to get married anywhere else (unless you were super rich and bought your way out of the church deal, but we’ll get to that in a moment).

According to the Hardwicke’s Marriage Act of 1753, if a couple wanted to marry, they needed:

  • a license
  • banns read in church services for three consecutive weeks
  • parental consent if under the age of 21

Then the marriage itself had to:

  • be performed in the morning hours between 8:00 and 12:00
  • be held in a public chapel or church (Church of England church, Jewish synagogue or Quaker meeting)
  • be conducted by authorized clergy
  • be recorded in the marriage register with the signatures of both parties, the witnesses, and the minister.

As you can well see, the British Government was gracious to all those poor people wanting to get married two hundred years ago. And the sad thing is, England has so much lovely scenery. You know those beautiful White Cliffs of Dover? Do you want to get married there at sunset? Regular folk likely couldn’t have, though there were two ways around the tedious list of marriage regulations.

  • For a modest sum, you could purchase a license from the local clergy, which enabled the marrying couple to skip the banns.
  • For an exorbitant sum, you could purchase a special license from no less than the Archbishop of Canterbury, which enabled the marrying couple to skip the banns, get married outside a church, and marry after noon.

However, there was a more dramatic way to circumvent the Marriage Act of 1753: Elope. The Hardwicke Marriage Act was only law in England. Scotland didn’t adhere to such strict marriage regulations, and towns along the Scottish/English border became a popular place to elope, (especially if the bride or groom was under 21 and didn’t have parental consent). Today people fly to Vegas; in Regency England they rode four days (or more) from London to Gretna Green, Scotland. Or Coldstream Bridge, Lamberton, Mordington, or Paxton Toll.

Blacksmith's shop in Gretna Green

For those wealthy, law abiding citizens not wishing to circumvent the Marriage Act or do something so extreme as to marry out of doors, the place to get married was St. George’s, Hanover Square. Interestingly enough, St. George’s is not located on Hanover Square itself, but a block or two away. It was located in the fashionable place for the ton to live when in London: Mayfair.

The church held about 1,000 weddings per year in Regency times, which comes out to three weddings per day. And remember the majority of these weddings had to take place between 8:00 am and noon. Can you imagine getting married there? Maybe, if you were lucky, you would have had the church for a whole hour before getting get kicked out so the next bride in line could have her turn. Which makes me equate St. George’s to a modern day Las Vegas wedding chapel.  The record for marriages at St. George’s was set in 1816, with 1,063 weddings, including nine on Christmas Day.

The Most Fashionable Regency Wedding Church
Where everyone wanted to get married

So there you have it, Wedding Hotspots in Regency England, and the reason why those places were so hot: The Hardwicke Marriage Act.

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A mother of two young boys, Naomi Rawlings spends her days picking up, cleaning, playing and, of course, writing. Her husband pastors a small church in Michigan’s rugged Upper Peninsula, where her family shares its ten wooded acres with black bears, wolves, coyotes, deer and bald eagles. Naomi and her family live only three miles from Lake Superior, where the scenery is beautiful and they average 200 inches of snow per winter. Naomi writes bold, dramatic stories containing passionate words and powerful journeys. Her debut novel, Sanctuary for a Lady releases in April of 2012.