Real brides of 1911

We’ve looked at fashion magazines, extent wedding dresses, and discussed one of the fabrics used in them.  Now it’s time to look at real Titanic-era brides.

These wedding photos tell us so much that the fashion plates and extent dresses can’t quite convey: what the brides wore with their dress, the flowers they carried, how they actually looked in the dress, and what styles were popular (as opposed to what styles survived, and what styles the fashion magazines promoted)

Wedding, November 1910, Detroit, Michigan

Satin skirt, lace blouse, high neck.  Roses and ferns for the bride, chrysanthemums for the bridesmaid.  And I’m pretty sure the groomsman in the back is giving the photographers pretty assistant the eye 😉

Wedding of Kitty Wachdorf & Tony Hochertz, 1910 or 1911

Lashings of roses all round, a very poofy veil, and adorable bobbles on the brides tunic, yoke, and sleeves.

Max & Anna's Wedding, Nov 14 1911

A very fashionable bride in satin with some sort of embellishment near the hem.  Her flowers look like fake studio flowers.

The Perrone Pesce wedding, 1911

A groom in gloves, and a bride with beautifully pintucked skirt and a chrysanthemum bouquet tied with a huge bow.

A Queensland Australia wedding, 1911

A very elaborate and fashionable wedding, with a flower girl in a Kate Greenaway cap, pageboys in boaters, and bridesmaids in enormous picture hats with flower bedecked staffs.  You almost loose the bride amongst all the pomp and splendor!

Society Wedding, Lady Graham, 1911

Our most fashionable bride, Lady Graham, wears a Juliet cap, a cascading veil, and a slim, almost clinging, dress.

Wedding of James Cowan and Elizabeth Jane Boyd , 1911

And finally, Elizabeth Boyd in a fascinating wedding dress with a inverted yolk and lace trimmed skirt.  This image is courtesy of TwoPennies 1 on flickr who has kindly allowed me to use all the images of the Boyd-Cowan weddings, so I’ll be blogging more about Elizabeth’s dress and wedding in a few days.

So what do all these photos tell us?  Well, first of all, that real brides weren’t quite as fashionable as the fashion magazines!  Except for Lady Graham, all of the brides are wearing slightly earlier, more conservative dresses with stiffer A-line skirts.  This indicates what was already likely: that all the real wedding gowns I was able to show you are the dresses of extremely fashionable, wealthy brides, who picked up the latest styles.

Also of note is that quite a few of the brides aren’t wearing gloves: fashion magazines of the time made a point of discussing how brides were leaving off their gloves.

What all the brides are wearing is high necks:  Lady Graham’s gown doesn’t have the stiff Alexandra collar of the other brides, but every one of the lot is covered past her collarbone, so the real wedding dresses were definitely worn with guimpes.


  1. I have a photo of an ancestor of mine at wedding from 1916. (The bride & groom had met for the first timeon thier wedding day after being pen pals). They got hitched then the chap went stright back to the front and the best man was a stranger off the street. The brides outfit is a little like the one from your first photo.

  2. Okay, so I guess what I learned from this post is that pattern-wise I should go for something high necked, a style from a couple of years before 1911. I’m pretty sure Winnipeg wasn’t on the cutting edge of fashion back then!

  3. How the other half live eh! The groom wearing glvoes may have been a farmer or some other job that wrecks your nails – a friend of mine’s brother is a mechanic and cannot get the black out from his nails so he wore gloves at his wedding. I love that photo best – so much subtext. Such practical people. But I cannot imagine them eer being really happy.

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