The third story in my Revolutionary War series, Setting Two Hearts Free, releases in early October. It begins in 1781, five years after A Heart For Freedom ends. It primarily follows the next generation of the Duncan and Stewart families.
The Revolutionary War is winding down, but many battles will still be fought until the peace is signed in 1783. The story’s characters face numerous dangers, challenges, tragedies, and joys, which will include three weddings and some funerals.
In this post, let’s focus on the uplifting, weddings in Colonial Virginia, primarily amongst the middle class.
A little background on Virginia’s religious affiliation in the eighteenth century:
While there were Presbyterians, Lutherans, Baptists, and Methodists in Virginia the colony was primarily Anglican, protected by law, supported through taxes, and run by vestries. Anglican clergy had to be ordained in England and they often ministered to several churches within their parish. In 1786, Virginia passed a statute and disestablished from the Church of England.
Before a marriage could take place, the couple needed to be twenty-one or have the permission of a parent or guardian. A license stating that no legal reasons restricted the marriage was required or banns had to be published for three consecutive meetings at the church.
Weddings were at times held in churches, but often they took place in the home of the brideconducted by a minister. The minister would have performed the marriage ceremony from the 1750 edition of the Book of Common Prayer. Weddings were festive occasions that often took place during the colder months so as not to interfere with planting or harvesting. They were not held during Lent or right before Christmas. The groom presented his bride with a ring but he did not receive one in return.
Brides either made or purchased a new gown that would be suitable for other occasions following the wedding. A Christian bride might wear flowers in her hair or a bonnet, but no veil. They did not carry wedding bouquets White wedding gowns did not come into vogue until the Victorian era. A meal, including a wedding cake and toasts, followed the ceremony, and often dancing ensued. Honeymoons did not come into vogue until the 19th century.
Some couples who lacked permission or chose not to license or post banns married through “handfasting”, where they would hold hands and speak their vows before witnesses. These ceremonies were often conducted before blacksmiths where the smithies anvil symbolized the forging of their union.
I hope you will read about and enjoy the weddings in Setting Two Hearts Free.
For more information about Colonial weddings, you can read J. M. Hochstetler’s excellent post from 2011 at https://colonialquills.blogspot.com/2011/05/wedding-in-colonial-america.html