The Tradition of the Bridal Garter

In this post I will discuss the tradition of the bridal garter and other information, such as how to wear one on a wedding day.  I will also give ideas and suggestions for several different styles of bridal garter for any season or theme.

It is believed that the tradition of a garter was started during the Middle Ages; it is considered one of the oldest wedding traditions.  Back then weddings were rowdy public affairs with guests barging in on the bride and groom on their wedding night to witness the couple consummating their marriage (can you imagine how romantic that would be!).  Guests also thought that any token from the wedding would bring them good luck and for this reason the custom began of grabbing at the bride’s wedding dress to tear off to get a piece for a very lucky souvenir!!  Eventually, to appease these intrusive guests, the bride’s garter was tossed into the crowd instead in order to keep her safe from harm and also her dress from being torn to shreds. 

Special Note: Back in those days, a garter was a narrow band of fabric that was used to fasten the stockings to the leg to keep them from slipping.  Both men and women wore stockings and would usually tie a garter just below the knee.       

Today, a bridal garter is generally made in a satin fabric trimmed with lace and it can come in a variety of different colors with additional embellishment such as charms or beading or rhinestones.  Traditionally it is white in color but sometimes a bride will want to have one in blue to be used on her wedding day as her “something blue”.  Sometimes the garter can be custom made for any style or theme of a wedding, such as a destination beach wedding garter can embellished with seashells.

Typically a garter will be bought by the bride; after all she may want one in a particular color or theme to match the style of her wedding.  If the bride’s preferences are known, a garter can be purchased or custom made as a special gift for a bridal shower from the mother of the bride and perhaps it could to be included with a lingerie set.

Of course a custom designed garter from a vendor would require a certain production time so it would be wise to order well in advance of the wedding day.  Also, be sure to try on the garter before the wedding day to make sure it fits properly and allow time for any adjustments to be made.

A bridal garter can be worn on either leg; there is no particular meaning as to which leg it is worn.  The choice is really up to the bride’s preference and she would need to decide on which leg it feels the most comfortable, it is recommended that a garter be worn just above the knee.  Usually the garter is placed on her leg when the bride is getting dressed on her wedding day, either the bride or a maid/matron of honor can do this after the bride’s dress is put on. 

Another decision that the bride needs to make is whether she wants to have a garter toss at the reception or to keep the garter to display in a shadowbox after the wedding or to pass on to her children.  Today, most brides use two garters on their wedding day, one to keep and one to toss.  Usually the one that is kept is more elaborate in design and the one to toss is more plain and simple. 

At one point during the reception the groom will ceremonially remove the garter from the bride’s leg (cue the silly music that is usually played during the removal of the garter!)  A garter toss is similar to a bouquet toss for the unmarried bridesmaids or female guests and a garter toss is usually for the unmarried groomsmen and male guests. It is said that the one to catch the bouquet or the garter is believed to be the next to marry!  Of course if the bridal couple thinks a bouquet and garter toss seems too old fashioned a custom for their reception or if a more modest bride does not wish to expose her legs during the removal of the garter this can be skipped.   

Now, let’s discuss the various styles of bridal garters.  Shown before are some ideas and suggestions ranging from the simple design to the more elaborate to different colors and themes to fit any type of wedding.

a simple white lace bridal garter

a white bridal garter set (one to keep and one to toss)

a blue bridal garter for a bride’s “something blue”

an elegant silver grey bridal garter set with pearl and rhinestone embellishments

a formal black bow bridal garter

a bold red satin bridal garter with rhinestone accents

 a lovely pink bridal garter set

an elegant white lace bridal garter
embellished with a bow and pearl and rhinestone brooch

a white satin bridal garter with a pearl and rhinestone pendant

a white bridal garter embellished with feathers, pearl and rhinestones

a ivory bridal garter with a lucky horseshoe charm
(a three leaf clover could also be used for good luck)

a blue monogram added to a bridal garter with fabric roses

the bride’s new married name can be added to a bridal garter

a great bridal garter set embellished with seashells
which would be perfect for a beach wedding

a beautiful bronze bridal garter set which would perfect for a fall wedding

a silver grey bridal garter set with snowflake charms
would be great for a winter wedding

a bridal garter set trimmed with a yellow bandana
for a country themed wedding

shown above are two bridal garter sets for a policemen or firemen couple

an army bridal garter set for a military couple

here is an idea for a bridal garter set
which could feature a bride or groom’s sorority or fraternity

So, as you can see from the examples above there is a vast variety of bridal garters that could be used for any wedding style or theme.

Irish Wedding Traditions

Since March 17 is Saint Patrick Day, in this month’s post I thought it would be a good time to discuss the wedding traditions of Ireland.  Maybe a destination wedding is planned to a magical castle in Ireland or maybe the bride or the groom have an Irish ancestors in the family tree and which to honor their heritage, here are a few ideas and suggestions for incorporating Irish wedding traditions.


Perhaps one of the oldest Celtic wedding traditions is handfasting which is when a bridal couple join hands and a rope or cord is tied around their wrists to represent that they are united in marriage.  Handfasting has recently become popular for modern weddings and the ritual can be performed at any time during the wedding ceremony.  Today, an easy search on Goggle will result in numerous websites explaining handfasting and also sources for purchasing customized ropes and cords. 

Claddagh ring

Another Irish tradition is the Claddagh ring and, although there are many myths and legends pertaining to the ring, it has been said that it was originally produced in the small village of Claddagh near Galway located on the west coast of Ireland since the 1700s (hence the name).  The ring has come to traditionally symbolizes love, loyalty and friendship; it features two hands holding a heart with a crown.

Although the Claddagh ring can be sometimes given to someone in friendship, it is most often given as an engagement or wedding ring.  Sometimes an Irish mother will pass on the ring when their daughter reaches a significant age, such as a 21st birthday.  If used for an engagement or wedding, in the case on an engagement the ring is worn with the heart facing away and after the wedding it usually changed to face towards the wearer indicating that their heart is taken in marriage.

The Claddagh design can also be incorporated into other items for a wedding and shown below is a photo of a unique wedding cake topper;
this idea would be a great way to honor an Irish heritage


The shamrock, besides bringing good luck to those that find one, has become a symbol of Ireland and in fact it is considered the national flower.  The shamrock (trifolium dubium) it is a type of clover with a very distinctive three leaves and it has been said that St. Patrick (the patron saint of Ireland) used a shamrock in his Christian teachings as a symbol to represent the Holy Trinity.

The photos below show shamrocks used for a bridal bouquet and a boutonniere

Shamrocks in a variety of forms could be used for a wedding and shown below is a shamrock necklace which would be perfect for a bridesmaids or flower girl gift but a shamrock charm could also be attached to a bridal bouquet or a bridal garter in a lucky shade of green.

The photo below shows a wedding cake decorated with shamrocks
(maybe the toasting glasses are from Waterford,
a glassware company long associated with Ireland)

Irish linen and lace

Speaking of table linens, Ireland is known for their fine linen and lace products.  The cloth for the table linens is made from flax which had been initially grown exclusively in Ireland but in recent years much of the flax has been sourced from Europe or Asia.  Regardless of where the yarn is produced, if the linen product is woven in Ireland from 100% flax fibres it warrants the Irish Linen Guild trademark to signify that is a genuine Irish Linen brand.    

Shown below is an Irish table linen that incorporates a shamrock motif
and it would be perfect for a cake table

Irish lace is another product associated with Ireland, although the industry started in Dublin, there are several different variations of lace patterns that are manufactured in various parts of the country.

A bridal veil made of Irish lace would be lovely to wear with a wedding dress,
it could be another sentimental heirloom to pass onto future generations.

An Irish linen handkerchief trimmed with Irish lace would be a lovely heirloom item to pass onto generations.  A very sentimental idea is for the parents of the bride to purchase an Irish linen handkerchief for her to carry on her wedding day, then saved for later use as a Christening or Baptismal bonnet (converted with a few folds and stiches).

The Irish linen and lace handkerchief shown below
is beautifully embroidered with the bride’s monogram and the Claddagh symbol

Another idea for an Irish linen and lace handkerchief would be as a gift to the mothers of the bride and groom (to wipe away those happy tears!) or for the father of the bride to carry in his suit pocket as her walks his daughter down the aisle.  An Irish linen and lace handkerchief would also make a great gift for the bridesmaids, maybe embroidered with their initials. 

Celtic symbols

The following Celtic symbols are replicated in many different forms that being most often jewelry items.  Any of these items would make a great gift for the bride and the groom or the bridesmaids and ushers. 

Celtic cross

The Celtic cross has its origins during the Middle Ages in Ireland as well as Great Britain and France.  Today, the Celtic cross is often decorated with an interlaced design and features a ringed center.

Shown below is an example of a Celtic cross necklace
that would make a great gift for a bride to wear on her wedding day.

Celtic trinity knot

The Celtic trinity knot is designed in such a way that there is seemingly no beginning or end symbolizes eternity.  The three sections of the knot have been known to represent the Holy Trinity, it is sometimes called the Triquetra. 

Shown below is a pair of Celtic knot cufflinks
that would make a great gift from a bride for her groom to wear on the wedding day.

Celtic heart

The Celtic heart, an example is shown below,
is a stylized version of the Celtic knot and would make a great gift for the bridesmaids.

Shown below is another version of the Celtic heart
is a lovely wedding cake topper

English Christmas Traditions for a December Wedding

English Christmas Traditions for a December Wedding

Many of the Christmas traditions that we celebrate here in the United States started centuries ago in England.  In this post I will discuss some of those traditions and ways to incorporate them into a December wedding during the holiday season. 

Christmas Cards

The tradition of Christmas cards started in England when children would often write letters to Father Christmas with their wishes for toys or other items.  Traditionally, these letters would be “delivered” to Father Christmas by putting them in the fireplace so that the ashes from the burnt letters would fly up the chimney because (as everyone knows, right?) Father Christmas can read the messages in the smoke!!  Since the Victorian times, sending Christmas cards in England has become a very important tradition and a wonderful way to send “Happy Christmas” wishes to family and friends.  English families would make their own Christmas cards to send and the ones that were received were often used as decorations within the home during the holiday season and displayed on fireplace mantles or shelves located near the Christmas tree.

Today, children in the United States have been known to sometimes mail their Christmas requests to Santa Claus in the North Pole.  Of course, there are other ways to get a message to Santa, sometimes children wait to give Santa their gift wish lists when they go to have their picture taken with him at the mall or sometimes they will write a special letter to him on Christmas Eve with their list and set it out with a plate a cookies and glass of milk for him and a couple of carrots for the reindeer.  (Magically, I have been able to save these letters to Santa that my children have written over the years!)

December wedding idea –

In regards to incorporating the idea of Christmas Cards into a December wedding would be to send invitations with a beautiful winter scene, as shown in the photo below. 

This second example shown below has a very clever wording

For the bride and groom’s first Christmas, they could send out a special Christmas card maybe enclosing their engagement or wedding photo.  I would suggest that they could keep one card for every year that they send out their Christmas cards.  Gathers the cards into a special box or another idea for a home decoration would be to display them as a framed collage which could be used every year for the holiday season.

Christmas dinner

In England, on Christmas day a special meal is served usually in the afternoon.  Traditionally, the meal consists of a roasted goose, duck or pheasant.  Side dishes could possibly include cranberry sauce or currant jelly, potatoes, brussel sprouts or parsnips and for dessert a Christmas pudding or English trifle.  This meal is very similar to one served to the British Royal Family when they gather together at Sandringham in Norfolk to celebrate during the holiday season.  (For more information regarding the traditions associated with the annual British Royal Family Christmas at Sandringham, please clink on the link)

A traditional English Christmas dinner table is usually set with the home’s finest dishes, flatware, glasses and table linens.  Also placed at each of the place settings is a very special item known as a Christmas cracker.  A Christmas cracker is a paper tube filled with three items usually small treats such as a spinning top or simple puzzle, a special joke or humorous limerick and finally a paper crown.  The filled paper tube is then covered with foil that is twisted at both ends to seal.  Traditionally, the crackers are usually opened at the Christmas dinner; each cracker is held between two people and pulled.  As the Christmas cracker is opened there is a small device inside which makes a loud pop sound.  The custom of the English Christmas Cracker is a wonderful idea to add fun and excitement to a Christmas dinner.

December wedding idea –

Any of the dinner entrees and side dishes mentioned above would be delicious to serve at a December wedding reception, turkey or roast beef would be a great alternative if something different than poultry is desired.  Maybe the menu could be served “family style” and all the mea

The guest tables could be decorated beautiful china, silver or gold flatware, crystal stemware and lovely table linens in white, burgundy red or forest green.  (The reason I suggested those colors is that they are less Christmassy than a bright red or green)

The next example shown below is a Christmas cracker

Christmas Tree

The tradition of the Christmas tree became very popular in England when Prince Albert, the husband of Queen Victoria, brought the custom from his native Germany.  Christmas trees during that time where decorated very differently from the ones seen in the United States today.  In Victorian England, Christmas tree were cut from the nearby woods and brought indoors to be decorated with natural items such as nuts, berries, apples or possibly oranges and illuminated with candles clipped to the branches of the tree.

Things have changed considerably over the years, lite candles on Christmas trees have been proven to be a fire hazard and it was determined that cutting down trees was not good for the environment.  Today, artificial Christmas trees have become popular and there are a variety of light styles and colors to string on the trees (our Christmas tree was bought pre-lite so my husband doesn’t have to spend hours un-tangling the lights to put on the tree!)  The decorations for the Christmas tree have also changed throughout the years, during the 1940s-1960s my mother used glass ornaments and shiny silver tinsel and I have been purchasing Hallmark ornaments for over forty years now for our Christmas tree.

December wedding idea –

Simple white light Christmas trees would look lovely flanking a ceremony site or set in a group in the corners of a reception venue, shown below are two examples of Christmas trees used for a wedding reception.  

(For additional inspiration for more decorations for a December wedding winter theme, click on the link to “A Rehearsal Dinner Theme – Harry Potter Yule Ball”)

In keeping with the Christmas tree idea, another item for the bridal couple to purchase is a special First Christmas ornament to hang on their Christmas tree, this would make a great tradition to start and an ornament could be added every year throughout their married life.   

Christmas stockings –

In England, the custom of hanging stockings above the fireplace started centuries ago mainly out of necessity because this was generally the way for the children to dry them overnight.  Of course, Father Christmas used this as an opportunity to leave small presents of fruit, nuts, candy or other small gifts for the good little boys and girls.  Traditionally, on Christmas Eve the children would leave a snack of cookies or small meat pies for Father Christmas near the fireplace.

In the United States, the custom of hanging Christmas stockings is a wonderful tradition to celebrate during the holiday season.  Christmas stockings can be bought in a variety of retail stores and are available in styles ranging from inexpensive simple ones to expensive and elaborate ones.  For those that wish to make their own Christmas stockings they are several sewing patterns available in different styles that could be used to create special ones in fabrics ranging from inexpensive felt and denim material to expensive silk or satin material.  There are also embroidery and needlepoint kits that can be purchased at craft stores that can be used to create custom Christmas stockings.  The gift of a custom Christmas stocking makes a wonderful gift for a child’s first Christmas, my son received one these and I am planning on having it framed.

December wedding idea –

A custom Christmas stocking would make a wonderful gift for a couple’s first Christmas; of course it can be personalized with their names.

Shown below is an example of a stocking hanger

Father Christmas/Santa Claus –

Across the world Santa Claus is known by many different names and in England he goes by the name of Father Christmas, in Ireland it is Daidi na Nollag, in Italy it is Babbo Natale, in Spain it is Papa Noel and in France it is Pere Noel.

In 16th century England, the feast day of Saint Nicholas was no longer celebrated due to King Henry VIII’s break with the Catholic Church centered in Rome.  Centuries later, the Father Christmas character, normally associated with the feast of Saint Nicholas, was revived during the reign of Queen Victoria and generally pictured as a large man wearing a crimson robe lined with fur.

Today in America, the character known by Kris Kringle or more commonly by the name Santa Claus became famous in the 1823 poem, “A Visit From St. Nicholas” and later by an 1897 editorial in the New York Sun newspaper that answered the important question of his existence with the response, “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus”.  The popular character which has become a major part of Christmas in the United is usually depicted as a large man with a white beard wearing a red coat trimmed with a white collar and cuffs matching red trousers also trimmed in white and a black leather belt and black leather boots.  The story of Santa Claus was written in the famous 1934 song, “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” is said to have a list of children throughout the world, the naughty ones get a piece of coal in their stockings and the nice ones receive wonderful gifts of toys and candy on Christmas Eve.  Santa lives far away in the North Pole and the elves help to make the toys and the presents are loaded onto Santa’s sleigh which is pulled by eight reindeer that fly.

Christmas wedding idea – A wonderful way to end a wedding reception (for old and young guests!) would be the appearance of jolly Santa Claus.  He could give out a candy canes and of course be available for photos. 

The Tradition of a Coral Necklace

Last week I posted about the costumes from the 2020 film Emma which is based on the Jane Austen book.  I know everyone talks about the topaz necklaces of Jane Austen and her sister, Cassandra, and in fact the character of Emma in the film wears a topaz cross necklace several times. 

But, in keeping with the Regency Era in England in which Jane Austen lived, this post will be about a different necklace.   Shown in the photo below from the film, Emma is wearing a double strand coral necklace as well as coral earrings and a hair comb.   

The coral necklace became popular during the Georgian and Regency periods and was often worn not only for the beauty of the gemstone but as a talisman of protection since coral has long been associated to have mystical as well as medicinal properties.  Coral necklaces were often worn by children or young women for this reason because it was thought that they were most vulnerable to illness.   

Red coral from the Mediterranean Sea was manufactured into smooth beads and strung into a necklace; sometimes the beads are matched to be similar in color and size to create a necklace.  Red was the most often used color of coral for jewelry during the Georgian and Regency periods but later other colors were also used ranging from white to pink.

Special Note: The demand for coral throughout the centuries has depleted the world’s coral reefs and for this reason the use of natural coral harvested from the seas has been greatly diminished.  Antique red coral jewelry is still available but has become very expensive and increasingly had to find. 

Centuries ago a coral necklace was often passed on from parent to child and would sometimes be given as a gift for a special birthday.  Within the British Royal family the tradition of the coral necklace has continued for generations.  The earliest photographic evidence I found of a British Royal wearing a coral necklace was of Princess Victoria (later to become Queen Victoria), shown below as an infant in a miniature portrait by Anthony Stewart.  She is wearing a white dress trimmed in lace, a white bonnet and a coral necklace; her parents were Prince Edward the Duke of Kent and Victoria of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld.     

Princess Victoria (later Queen Victoria) from the Royal Collection Trust

The next photo shows Princess Victoria with her mother in an oil painting by William Beechery dated 1821.  The Princess is wearing the same coral necklace and is holding a miniature portrait of her father who had sadly died before she was a year old.    

Princess Victoria with her mother, Victoria of Saxe-Cobrug-Saalfield
from the Royal Collection Trust

Later, Queen Victoria continued the tradition of the coral necklace for her children.  The photo shown below shows Princess Beatrice, she was the fifth daughter and last of the nine children of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert and she later married Prince Henry of Battenberg.  The miniature portrait on enamel is by William Bell is dated 1858 and depicts a young Princess Beatrice wearing a coral necklace.      

Princess Beatrice from the Royal Collection Trust

Into the 19th century there was a tradition in Scotland that coral would bring beauty and prosperity to little girls.  This holds true for the next British Royal who was Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, she was the youngest daughter of Claude Bowes-Lyon the Earl of Strathmore and Cecilia Cavendish-Bentinck.  Lady Elizabeth later married Prince Albert who became King George VI in 1936, she became his Queen Consort and after his death in 1952 she became the beloved Queen Mother.  

Shown below is a 1902 photo of a two year old Lady Elizabeth wearing a coral necklace wearing a white dress and sitting precariously on a wooden chair.  It is not known if she received the necklace as a family heirloom or if it was a gift specifically bought for her but later the short necklace was lengthened and pearls were added which enabled her to wear the necklace as she grew older.  

Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon (later Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother)

With the birth of their first daughter in 1926, Princess Elizabeth (later to become Queen Elizabeth II) was given her mother’s coral necklace.  The photo below was taken in 1917 on the occasion of her first birthday and she is wearing a simple white dress and the necklace.

Princess Elizabeth (later Queen Elizabeth II)

In 1950 the daughter of Princess Elizabeth and her husband, Prince Philip the Duke of Edinburgh was born.  Princess Anne and her mother are shown in the 1951 photo below on the occasion of her first birthday, she is wearing the same coral necklace that her grandmother and mother also wore.

Princess Elizabeth and her daughter Princess Anne

Wedding Tip: A coral necklace would make a great gift for a flower girl. For more ideas and suggestions for a Coral Wedding, please click on the link.

The Custom of the Wedding Toast

In this post I will start by giving a brief history and origin of wedding toast custom, the unusual meaning of the term toast and the general etiquette guidelines to making a proper toast. production process of the sparkling wine known as champagne.  Champagne became the celebratory drink of choice for special occasions, such as weddings.  Then, finally to end this post I will give several suggestions for incorporating champagne into a wedding reception, such as a champagne glass tower or a champagne fountain. 

The Wedding Toast

The origin of a toast can be traced back to the Ancient Greeks who would honor their Gods through a symbolic drink.  Ancient Romans gave great importance to drinking to a person’s health and in fact the Roman Senate passed a decree that at every meal a symbolic drink should be taken to honor the Emperor Augustus. 

The origin of the term toast can be found in the 16th century, at the time most wines were of inferior quality and by placing a piece of stale bread (toast) into the wine barrel it was meant to soak up the acidity thereby improving the flavor of the wine.  Eventually, the custom of the toast became associated with a way of honoring a person by giving them the wine soaked bread.  Gradually the actual toast/bread was eliminated but the custom of honoring a person remained. 

At the wedding reception the champagne toast formally congratulates the bridal couple on their marriage and can sometimes include emotional or humorous anecdotes specifically about the bride and groom.  At a formal wedding, toasts are given immediately following the meal and before the bridal couple’s first dance.  It can also be done either before or after the cutting of the wedding cake.  For an informal wedding, toasts can be made at any time; some suggestions include giving the toast before or after the meal is served.      

If multiple people are giving toasts the suggested order would be: the father of the bride (if her parents are hosting the reception), the best man, the maid/matron of honor and finally the bridal couple could toasts their families and invited guests.  Another option that could be added on the night before the wedding is the father of the groom (since his parents generally host the rehearsal dinner) toasts the couple and welcomes their families.  Special Note: It is best to coordinate with the people giving the toasts prior to the wedding day and hopefully they will prepare a short toast. 

Usually for a wedding toast an alcoholic drink is served, such as champagne or wine, but is not required and sometimes a sparkling fruit juice can be served instead.  Toasting with an empty glass is considered unacceptable (and could also bring bad luck to the bridal couple) and if none of the beverage suggestions mentioned above sound appetizing to your palate or you may have dietary issues drinking water would be a good choice.  

Etiquette Guidelines for Wedding Toasts

  1. The person giving the toast should stand while the bride and groom should remain seated.  After the toast the bridal couple should stand and acknowledge the person giving the toast and many give a kiss or hug.
  2. After the toast is given guests should take a sip of the champagne (or other beverage) and if multiple toasts are given be sure to save some to drink after the other toasts. 
  3. It is considered impolite to put down a glass before the toast is completed or to not drink to the bridal couple after the toast is given.
  4. After the wedding day, a nice gesture would be to send those individuals giving the wedding toast a personal thank you note.

History of Champagne

It seems that throughout the past centuries several wedding customs have come to involve food and drink, such as champagne.  Although still wines have been produced in France since the 5th century, records indicate in the 16th century Benedictine monks created the process of sparkling wine by bottling the wine before the initial fermentation had been completed.  A century later Christopher Merret, an English scientist and physician, created a process in which yeast and sugar were added to the wine during the initial fermentation thereby creating a second fermentation process.    

This new process created carbonation that would build pressure within the bottles and caused the corks to pop or the bottles to explode.  Ultimately two things would happen; first a new type of bottle would be developed with thicker walls to withstand the pressure created by the carbonation.  Second, a muselet (a wire cage that fits over the cork at the top of the bottle) was invented to prevent the corks from blowing out.  Ultimately this new process became known as the methode champenoise and by definition the label of champagne was originally only given to French sparkling wines grown from grapes in the Champagne region produced by these specific methods.

Champagne became popular with the European Royal Courts during the 17th and 18th centuries and because of the exorbitant cost and limited quantity available it was seen as a status symbol.  Later in the late 19th century champagne production increased with better techniques and was eventually marketed to the middle class.  Champagne has now become the beverage of choice to mark special celebrations; such as weddings, births, housewarming, retirement and or even the classic New Year’s Eve toast at midnight!   

Ideas and suggestions for incorporating champagne into a wedding reception

Opening the Champagne Bottle –

Opening a champagne bottle could add that celebratory “pop” at the wedding reception.  A champagne bottle is usually opened by removing the muselet (a wire cage that fits over the cork at the top of the bottle).  Always check with the wine steward at the hotel or venue where the reception is being held for the proper procedures.  Special Note: Caution should be taken when opening a champagne bottle and safety is very important so extra precautions should be taken.  Champagne needs to be chilled properly before serving and if the bottle is not cold enough it is possible that the cork will be released too quickly which could be very dangerous!

Presenting and Displaying Champagne –

There are several different ways to present and display champagne before serving for the wedding toast.  The first idea is a classic and very elegant way to serve champagne and involves the hotel or venue wait staff carry the champagne poured into glasses and served individually to guests from a silver tray.

A beautiful extra touch would be to serve the champagne with a special garnish, strawberries for champagne and orange slices for a champagne mimosa

To add an extra special style to an “at home wedding”
consider renting a champagne fountain
(notice the beautiful floral arrangement placed at the top)

A wedding custom that was once very popular and which has recently made a comeback at wedding receptions is the champagne tower.  Check with the hotel or venue to see if they can accommodate this very unique way of serving champagne. 

A more elaborate way to present champagne bottles at a wedding reception is an ice sculpture, the first photo shown below is simple and the second photo shows an ice sculpture with roses that would make a beautiful display.

The Legend of Cupid

Cupid in a Tree painting by Jean-Jacque-François le Barbier

In honor of the romantic holiday of Valentine’s Day celebrated on the February 14th, this post will be about the legend and the history of Cupid.  I will also give some unique ideas and suggestions to incorporate Cupid into a wedding ceremony and reception.

The legend originated centuries ago as the story of an ancient Greek god named Eros who was portrayed as a winged and slender young man.  In the ancient Roman mythology he was a god named Cupid (from the Latin word cupido) and he was the son of Mars (the god war) and Venus (the goddess of love).  Cupid had the appearance of a chubby little boy and his source of power was his bow and arrow.  When Cupid shot his arrow at an unsuspecting person they would suddenly be overcome with feelings of immense love and desire. 

As legend has it, cupid carries a quiver of arrows filled with two kinds of arrows.  The first is an arrow with a golden tip and a person struck with this kind of arrow is filled with desire and love.  The second arrow has a lead tip and a person struck by this kind of arrow feels not quiet hatred but a strong desire … to flee!

Cupid has been depicted by master painters in many great works of art throughout the past centuries; perhaps one of the most famous is the La Primavera painting by the Italian Renaissance artist Botticelli.  The painting is also known as the Allegory of Spring and depicts a blindfolded Cupid shooting his arrows above the central figure of Venus.   There as several mythical interpretations of the painting which shows Zephyrus to the right who is chasing Flora while on the left the three Graces dance with Mercury.

La Primavera (Allegory of Spring) by Botticelli

Another artistic interpretation of cupid was the Sleeping Cupid sculpture created in 1496 by the Renaissance artist Michelangelo.  At the time he was a relatively unknown artist and with this sculpture he receive commissions from patrons in Rome, ultimately this lead to perhaps his most famous and important work of art when he painted the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel which took approximately four years (1508-1512) to complete for Pope Julius II.

Sleeping Cupid sculpture by Michelangelo

In regards to the Sleeping Cupid sculpture, the piece eventually ended up in the Palace of Whitehall in London, England but unfortunately the sculpture was lost in a fire in 1698.  (Special Historical Note: Due to the efforts of King William III the Banqueting House, which was part of the Palace of Whitehall, was saved and still stands today)

When Valentine’s Day became a popular holiday in England during the 18th century, given the legend of Cupid and his association with love, his imagery was used as a common theme for Victorian greeting cards.  With the help of the Industrial Revolution and the new printing press technology, the introduction of relatively inexpensive postage stamps and then the Hallmark Greeting Card Company starting to mass produce Valentine’s Day cards in 1916 the holiday became very popular in the United States.  (For more information on the custom of Valentine’s Day greeting cards and in particular Victorian Valentines, please click on the link)   

A Victorian Valentine’s Day greeting card

Cupid and cupid’s arrow ideas and suggestions for bridal showers and weddings

In this next section I will show several different ideas and suggestions for incorporating cupid and hearts into a bridal shower and wedding decorations, I have also included some gift ideas for the bride, groom and the bridal party.

The image of cupid can found on numerous types of paper products, cupid bridal shower invitations would be especially charming.  For a more subtle style, sealing wax stamps used on the back of the wedding invitations would look wonderful idea as shown in the photo below.

cupid sealing wax stamp –

Cherub candlesticks/candleabras would be a great idea to be used at a bridal shower or a wedding, these could get a little expensive to purchase but you might be able to find the item at a good price at an antique store or on the internet website like EBay. The example shown below could be used on a buffet table at the bridal shower, the ceremony or wedding sites or on the bridal party table or the cake table at the reception. 

antique cupid candelabras

An idea that would coordinate beautifully with the candelabras would be place cards that resemble cupid’s arrow; this would be an easy and relatively inexpensive craft to replicate for a bridal shower or a wedding reception.   

a cupid’s arrow place card idea – Coco & Blush

In keeping with the cupid arrow theme, below is a photo of a unique escort card display using a target with arrows showing the guest name and their table number. 

target and arrow idea for escort cards

Chair decorations at wedding reception have become very popular over the last few years and the two examples shown below are specifically for the chairs of the bride and groom and both ideas feature cupid’s arrows.

shown above are two ideas for chair decorations for the bridal couple

The next ideas are for food items, which include cake and cupcake examples that could be used for either a bridal shower or wedding reception. 

a lovely cupid wedding cake idea

a wedding cake idea from the

idea for a cupid’s arrow cake topper (would coordinate nicely with the chair decorations)

cupcakes with cupid’s arrows that could be served at a bridal shower or wedding reception

Shown below are two ideas for the younger members of the bridal party, the first is a cute idea for a flower girl to wear cupid’s wings and the second is a lovey example of a cupid ring pillow.

flower girl wearing cupid wings

cupid ring pillow –

Wedding Cake Topper Ideas and Suggestions

As I had previously mentioned in the post regarding the History of Wedding Cakes, wedding cake toppers before the 20th century were generally made by a pastry chef or wedding cake baker and handcrafted from frosting, gum paste, marzipan or occasionally non-edible materials, such as plaster of Paris.  These vintage cake toppers reflected the wedding theme and were often wedding bells, cupids or lovebird figurines. (For additional information about Wedding Cakes Display Ideas – Part One and Part Two, please click on the links)

Eventually figurines of the bride and the groom were also available.  After World War I and into the 1920s these figurines became popular wedding cake topper.  The bride and groom were generally separate figurines that were custom designed.  These types of figurines were made from paper, glass or wood and then placed on the top layer of the wedding cake. 

1920 wedding cake topper

In 1924, the Sears & Roebuck Company started to sell bride and groom cake toppers made of wax.  The figurines were available with a choice of the bride with or without a fabric wedding veil and the groom with or without a top hat.  These items proved to be very popular and the Sears catalog began to feature an entire page of wedding cake toppers readily available for anyone to purchase.               

Later, as the popularity for wedding cake toppers increased, the figurines started to be mass produced throughout the world.  Bride and groom cake toppers became available in a vast variety of materials, such porcelain and plastic.  Throughout the years wedding cake toppers have taken on many different forms besides the traditional style with a bride wearing a white dress and the groom in any color of tuxedo, even the hair and eye color can be customized. 

The different types of bride and groom figurines used for a wedding cake topper have also reflected the changing world.  During World War II the figurines were often made with the groom wearing a military uniform. Cake toppers are also now available in different ethnicities and in recent years there have been same sex couple figurines.

1940 wedding cake topper

1950 wedding cake topper

1960 wedding cake topper

Wedding cake toppers can also be personalized to reflect a bridal couple’s occupations whether that be a doctor, policemen or fireman.  There are other cake toppers that can depict a couple’s hobbies or sports; such are golfers, rock climbers, scuba divers or baseball or hockey.  Some figurines can also be added to a wedding cake to include a bridal couple’s pets, such as dogs, cats and even horses.

bride and policeman groom cake topper

baseball bride and groom cake topper

a whimsical wooden bride and groom silhouette with a dog and cat

Today a bridal couple can select from an unlimited variety of wedding cake toppers and their selection would depend on their personal preferences and they should take into consideration their wedding colors, theme or the size of the wedding cake. 

Listed below are several ideas and suggestions for wedding cake toppers –

Bride and groom wedding cake topper

The most common type of wedding cake topper is still the bride and groom figurine.  Figurines can be found that reflect the choice of bride’s dress and groom’s tuxedo/suit, the bridal couple’s hair/eye color or their ethnicity.  An unlimited variety of bride & groom cake toppers are available in several different types of materials, such as the classic plastic or resin figurines and fondant figurines made by a bakery or confectioner.  With a search on the internet customized bride & groom cake toppers can also be found made of clay, paper, wood, porcelain or glass.

a classic porcelain bride and groom cake topper

1997 Hallmark Barbie and Ken ornament which was used at our wedding as a cake topper

Special Note:  For a sentimental touch, a vintage wedding cake topper would be a great choice.  It could be a family heirloom saved from a parent or grandparents wedding and would be a wonderful way of adding “something old” or “something borrowed” to the wedding cake.   

Monogram wedding cake topper

A popular wedding cake topper is the monogram which can be a single initial from the bridal couple last name or the bride and groom first initial of their names romantically intertwined.  Monogram cake toppers can be made for any wedding theme and are available in several different types of materials, such as fondant, plastic or resin, metal, wood or glass.  Another beautiful option for a monogram cake topper is one made with real or artificial flowers.

an elegant monogram cake topper

a rustic twig cake topper using the bridal couple’s initials

For more on information, ideas and suggestions about using Monograms for wedding decorations, please click on the link.

Floral wedding cake topper

Floral wedding cake toppers are a great way to add an elegant style to a wedding cake.  The floral cake topper choices are unlimited and the flowers can be either real or artificial.  The selection of flowers or greenery used for a cake topper can be based on the wedding color or theme and can beautifully coordinate with the bride or bridesmaids bouquets or other floral wedding decorations. 

a lovely floral wedding cake topper

Special Note:  Be cautious when selecting real flowers for a cake topper and do not place them directly onto the wedding cake.  If possible place the flowers on a foam piece that could be cover with icing to match the wedding cake or a small container, but be sure to remove the foam piece or container before cutting the cake and serving. Be advised that some flowers can wilt quickly or their pollen could fall onto the wedding cake so it would be advisable to use artificial flowers instead.

Other traditional types of wedding cake toppers

As previously mentioned, the first wedding cake toppers were wedding bells, cupids or lovebird figurines.  These types of cake toppers would be a great alternative to use for a wedding and are still available in a wide variety of materials, such as plastic or glass.

a glass wedding cake topper with bells and love birds

a lovebird wedding cake topper

Please check back later on this blog for a post about unusual wedding cake toppers!

British Royal Bridal Bouquets

In this post I will discuss several of the British Royal wedding bouquets throughout the years, starting with the bridal bouquet Queen Victoria carried when she married Prince Albert in 1840 and concluding with Markle’s bridal bouquet that she carried when she married Prince Harry in 2018 .  Often the wedding bouquets carried by a British Royal Bride set the trend for future Royal brides, such as tradition of a sprig of myrtle used in bouquets which started during the reign of Queen Victoria to the tradition of lying the bouquet on the tomb of the unknown soldier in Westminster Abbey which was started by Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon (later known as Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother).

Queen Victoria

Queen Victoria married her first cousin, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha on February 10, 1840 in the Chapel Royal in St. James Palace in London, England.  On her wedding day she carried a small bouquet of snowdrops which were said to be Prince Albert’s favorite flower.  She also choose to wear a simple wreath of orange blossoms atop her head instead of wearing a crown as would befit her status as Queen, in addition her wedding dress was decorate with even more orange blossoms.  Orange blossoms were often worn by brides to symbolize chastity and fertility.  (For more information about the wedding tradition of the orange blossoms, please click on the link)

Queen Victoria and Prince Albert on their wedding day

The tradition of the myrtle used in British Royal bridal bouquets, which is credited to Queen Victoria, was not a sprig from her bridal bouquet.  In fact the myrtle planted during Queen Victoria’s time, that still grows in the garden at Osborne House, did not come from her bouquet but from a nosegay presented by Prince Albert’s grandmother during a visit to Prince Albert’s homeland of Germany several years later.  When the Princess Royal Victoria, the eldest child of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, married Prince Frederick of Prussia in 1958 and she carried a sprig of the Osborne myrtle in her bridal bouquet.  The tradition continued thereafter for Queen Victoria’s other four daughters on their wedding days.  Since the time of Queen Victoria every Royal Bride has carried a sprig of the Osborne myrtle in their wedding bouquets.

The gardens of Osborne House
where the myrtle for British Royal bridal bouquets is grown

Princess Alexandra of Denmark

Prince Albert Edward married Princess Alexandra of Denmark (later to become King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra) on March 10, 1863 in St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle.  The Princess wore a ivory silk taffeta wedding dress which featured a separate bodice top and a full skirt, the 21 foot train was made of antique silver moiré.  Like Queen Victoria, the Princess trimmed her wedding dress with orange blossoms and she wore a white veil secured upon her head with a wreath of orange blossoms and myrtle.  She carried a bridal bouquet of white roses, lilies of the valley, a few orchids and the traditional sprig of Osborne myrtle.

Prince Albert Edward and Princess Alexandra on their wedding day

Unlike other British Royal brides, Princess Alexandra carried an elaborate bouquet holder which featured an upper section of rock crystal carved into a cone shape to hold the flowers.  The crystal cone was embellished with diamonds, emeralds, pink coral and pearls.  In honor of the Princess’ royal status, the middle section featured a coronet with a gold chain decorated with pearls and a gold and pearl studded ring to wear on the hand.  Below the coronet is the symbolic Prince of Wales feathers created in diamonds and a monogram “A” for Alexandra made of rubies.  At the bottom of the holder was a small crystal sphere set with more rubies.


The wedding bouquet holder of Princess Alexandra

Princess May of Teck

Prince Albert George married May of Teck (later to become King George V and Queen Mary) on July 6, 1893 in the Chapel Royal, St. James Palace in London, England.  Much like the British Royal brides before her, Princess May trimmed the bodice and the front of her wedding dress with orange blossoms.  For the wedding ceremony, the she carried a large bridal bouquet made entirely of white flowers which included “York” roses, orchids, lilies of the valley, carnations, orange blossoms and of course the traditional sprig of Osborne myrtle.

Prince George and Princess May on their wedding day

Queen Victoria and Princess Alexandra, the Princess of Wales, also carried large bouquets on the wedding day of Prince George and Princess May (it has not been reported if the bride’s mother, the Duchess of Teck, carried a bouquet on her daughter’s wedding day)

Princess May’s bridal bouquet is shown in the middle photo,
Queen Victoria’s on the left and Princess Alexandra, the Princess of Wales, on the right

Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyons

Prince Albert George married Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyons (later to become King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother) on April 26, 1923 in Westminster Abbey in London, England.  In addition to her medieval style dress of ivory chiffon moiré dress with horizontal silver lame panels embroidered with silver thread and accented with pearl beads she wore a wreath of myrtle leaves, white heather and white York roses; the veil was a gift from Queen Mary.

Prince George and Lady Elizabeth on their wedding day

When looking at the formal wedding portraits taken at Buckingham Palace, it is noticeable that Lady Elizabeth is without her bridal bouquet and there is a very good reason for this omission.  The story goes that on the day of the wedding, as tradition usually dictates the bride and her father were the last to arrive at Westminster Abbey and they entered through the Great West Door.  Then, as the bride, her father and her eight bridesmaids assembled for the processional there was a slight delay.  In those few minutes, Lady Elizabeth spontaneously laid her bridal bouquet on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier to honor her brother Fergus who had died a few years earlier in World War I .  Special Note:  Since 1923, British Royal brides have also laid their bouquets on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier with the one exception that instead of it being placed prior to the start of the ceremony, the bouquet is laid on the sacred spot afterwards.  This is a lovely tradition most recently done in 2011 by Catherine Middleton at her wedding to Prince William and again in 2018 when Meghan Markle married Prince Harry.

Lady Elizabeth’s bouquet which was placed at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

Princess Elizabeth 

Princess Elizabeth married Lieutenant Phillip Mountbatten (later to become Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh) on November 20, 1947 in Westminster Abbey.  Norman Hartnell designed a lovely gown of ivory satin for the Princess Elizabeth and upon her head she wore the diamond King George III Tiara.  She carried a bouquet which comprised of three different kinds of British-grown orchids, cattleya, odontoglossum and cypripedium.  As per the British Royal wedding tradition, a sprig of myrtle was picked from the garden at Osborne house and added to Princess Elizabeth’s bridal bouquet.

Princess Elizabeth and Prince Phillip on their wedding day

Lady Diana Spencer

Prince Charles married Lady Diana Spencer (the Prince and Princess of Wales ) on July 29, 1981 in St. Paul’s Cathedral in London, England.  Known at the time as the “Wedding of the Century” it was a grand occasion watched by 600,000 people lined along the streets of London and watched by 750 million on television.  Lady Diana wore a wedding dress made of ivory silk taffeta designed by the relatively unknown David and Elizabeth Emanuel; the dress was trimmed with antique lace and featured a rather long 25 foot train.

To balance the rather voluminous dress, Lady Diana carried a large cascading bouquet of Earl of Mountbatten roses, gardenias, stephanotis, fressia, odontoglossum orchid, lily of the valley, ivy and of course the traditional Osborne myrtle.  The bouquet measured 42” long and 15” wide, there were in fact three bouquets made that included one for the rehearsal the night before the wedding, another that Lady Diana carried on her wedding day to Westminster Abbey and a third was used for photographs at Buckingham Palace after the wedding.  Special Note: The Earl of Mountbatten roses were chosen as a tribute to Lord Louis Mountbatten, a special Uncle of Prince Charles, who had died in 1979.  According to British Royal tradition, one of the bouquets was taken to Westminster Abbey to be placed on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

Prince Charles and Lady Diana on their wedding day

Sadly, the marriage of Prince Charles and Princess Diana which had started out as a fairytale later turned out to be a very unhappy union.  The couple’s formal separation was officially announced in 1992 and in 1996 the divorce was finalized.  Princess Diana died a year later in 1997 in a car crash in Paris, France.

Camilla Parker- Bowles

Prince Charles married Camilla Parker-Bowles (later known as the Duchess of Cornwall) on April 9, 2005 in the Windsor Guildhall, later that same day in St. George’s Chapel there was a religious blessing followed by a formal reception at Windsor Castle.  For the civil ceremony, Camilla wore a cream silk chiffon dress with a matching coat and she wore a Prince of Wales feather brooch attached to the coat lapel.  She also wore a large Philip Treacy cream wide-brimmed straw hat covered with ivory French lace and accented with feathers.  To complete her civil ceremony outfit, Camilla choose to wear L.K. Bennett shoes in an almond shade and a Launer purse made of embossed leather and lined in suede.

Prince Charles and Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall at the Windsor Guildhall

For the Church of England blessing in St. George’s Chapel, Camilla wore a Robinson Valentine long pale blue and gold embroidered damask coat over a matching chiffon gown.  To complete her bridal ensemble, she wore an impressive spray of golden feathers also created by Treacy in her perfectly coiffured hair instead of a tiara.  For the Church blessing, Camilla carried a small bouquet of yellow, purple and white primroses mixed with lily of the valley and the traditional Osborne myrtle.

Prince Charles and Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall at St. George’s Chapel

Catherine Middleton

Prince William married Catherine Middleton (later known as the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge) were married on April 29, 2011 in Westminster Abbey.  The bride’s floral request for her wedding bouquet would be to incorporate the “language of the flowers”, an old custom popular during the Victorian era in which flowers and plants would be selected for their special meanings to convey hidden messages.

Catherine’s dress was designed by Sarah Burton of Alexander McQueen and was made of satin gathered gently at the waist with slightly padded hips that formed a bustle in the back and a 9 foot train.  In keeping with the elegant but simple style of the stunning dress, Catherine carried a small all white bridal bouquet designed by florist Shane Connolly.  The bouquet featured lily of the valley (happiness), Sweet William (gallantry and also an unspoken tribute to her new husband), hyacinth (constancy of love), ivy (fidelity) and myrtle (love and marriage).

Prince William and Catherine Middleton on their wedding day

(For more information about the Wedding Flowers of Prince William and Catherine Middleton, please click on the link)

Meghan Markle

Prince Harry married Meghan Markle (later known as the Duke and Duchess of Sussex) were married on May 19, 2018 in St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle.  On her wedding day Meghan carried a bouquet made of sweet peas, lily of the valley, astilbe, jasmine, astrantia and forget-me-nots, said to be Princess Diana (the groom’s late mother’) favorite flower.  It has also been reported that as a very romantic gesture, Prince Harry hand-picked several of the flowers from the couple’s private garden at Kensington Palace.  

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle on their wedding day

Although the Royal couple had been married at St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle, the tradition of a British Royal Bride leaving her bridal bouquet on the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior in Westminster Abbey was honored when the bouquet was specially transported to London.

Meghan Markle’s bouquet on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

Wedding Gemstones – The Pearl

This post will be the first in a new ongoing series about the various types of gemstones that are used for weddings; particularly for items such as engagement rings, bridal jewelry and other fashion accessories.  The first gemstone in this series will be the pearl and in this post I will discuss the history and the symbolism associated with the pearl.  I will also briefly discuss the difference between saltwater and freshwater pearls and to end the post I will also discuss several historical and famous pearl jewelry items. 

The history of the pearl

The pearl is believed to be the oldest gemstone which dates back to the time of Ancient Greece.  In Ancient Rome pearls were extremely rare and considered a symbol of great wealth, in fact Julius Caesar created a law which degreed that only members of the ruling class could wear pearls.  For a period of time the Persian Gulf was considered the center of the pearl trade due to the abundance of the natural oyster beds found there which proved to be a very valuable commodity until the discovery of oil in the region.

In Ancient China pearls were believed to have magical powers that would protect the wearer from the fire of dragons while during the Medieval Ages knights would wear pearls to protect them when going into battles.  During the 15th to 16th centuries the demand for pearls in Western Europe became so great that it became known as the Pearl Age, members of royalty and nobility often wore elaborate pearl jewelry and embellished their fashions with pearls.  In other cultures the beauty of the white pearl came to symbolize purity and chastity while during the Victorian Era small seed pearls were often used in mourning jewelry to symbolize the wearer’s tears of sadness.  Then, by the 19th century the supply of the natural pearls found in oyster beds were depleted and in Asia the discovery of creating cultured pearls was developed to continue with the demand and supply of pearls.          

The different types of pearls

Unlike other gemstones which are mined from the earth, the pearl is found in a living organism.  A pearl is formed within an oyster when a small irritant, such as a piece of sand, becomes attached in the mantle (the soft inner layer) causing the oyster to secrete nacre (a crystalline substance) which builds up around the irritant ultimately forming a pearl composed of calcium carbonate, this type of pearl is classified as a natural pearl. 

Due to the high demand for pearls throughout the centuries, natural pearls had become quite rare and eventually commercial industries would be established to produce pearls by artificially implanting irritants in the oysters, as a matter of fact almost all the pearls currently produced and sold today are classified as cultured pearls. 

Cultured pearls are divided into two categories depending on the environment in which they are grown.  The first is saltwater pearls which are produced in the oysters found in the ocean, these are further classified by the region the pearls are grown and the type of oysters that is used.  Akoya pearls come from the akoya oyster (Pinctada fucata martensii) and is white in color, generally round in shape and considered the most lustrous of the cultured pearls.  Tahitian pearls come from the black-lipped oyster, Pinctada margaritifera, found in the islands of French Polynesia and are naturally black to charcoal grey in color.  South Sea pearls come from two different varieties of an oyster known as Pinctada Maxima, one produces pearls in a silver color from Australia but the most popular is the gold pearls from the Philippines and Indonesia that can range in color from a deep gold to cream.    

The second category of pearls is the freshwater pearl that is produced from mussels found in freshwater lakes and rivers.  Freshwater pearls can be round in shape but are more frequently irregular in shape.  Freshwater pearls are often bleached to produce a white pearl but sometimes the pearls will be dyed to produce colors ranging from green to blue to brown.    

Historical and famous pearl jewelry (in no particular chronological order)

La Peregrina Pearl pendant

The La Peregrina Pearl has a long history.  It was first discovered in the Gulf of Mexico and presented to the King Phillip II of Spain who in turn offered it as a wedding present when Mary Queen of Scots married.  After her death, the pearl was returned to Spain, many of the Queens of Spain can be seen wearing the La Peregrina Pearl in their official portraits.  Later, the pearl became the procession of the Bonaparte family of France but by the end of the 19th century there is no documentation to show what happened to the La Peregrina Pearl.

A century later, the La Peregrina Pearl was purchased from the Parke-Bernet Gallery in New York City by Richard Burton in 1969 for $37,000.  The pearl was on a gold chain but this was too simple for the taste of Elizabeth.  She commissioned Cartier to create a more elaborate necklace inspired by a portrait she had seen of Mary Queen of Scots wearing the La Peregrina Pearl.  Elizabeth collaborated with Al Durante of Cartier and they designed a necklace featuring two rows of pearls, twenty-three larger pearls and thirty-four larger pearls, intersected with eight separate clusters of diamonds centered by a cushion-cut ruby style to resemble flames all set in platinum and gold.  In the center of the necklace is the La Peregrina Pearl hangs from a diamond and silver bail which is attached to a large cluster of diamonds centered by a pear-shaped ruby which is attached to a large pearl and then another pear-shaped ruby and then finally attached to the necklace.  The La Pergrina Pearl Pendant can also be detached and worn as a brooch.  After Elizabeth’s death, the La Peregrina Pearl Necklace sold for over $11 million at the Christie’s auction.            

Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee Necklace

In 1887, to mark the fiftieth anniversary of Queen Victoria’s accession to the British throne, a committee was formed to raise funds for a commemorative statue of Prince Albert to honor the beloved husband of the Queen who died in 1861.  (Eventually the completed statue was dedicated in 1890 at Windsor)  The remainder of the fund was used for an impressive necklace with 26 large pearls and over 300 diamonds which Queen Victoria wore in the official Golden Jubilee photograph.  The necklace has a large central pearl and diamond quatrefoil with a large pearl in the middle, a pearl and diamond crown set at the top with a large pearl drop hanging at the bottom.  The remaining necklace comprises of graduated diamond and pearl trefoil links, six of the largest trefoils were designed to be worn separately as brooches.  After Queen Victoria’s death in 1901, the necklace became the personal property of the crown and was worn infrequently by subsequent queen consorts.  The necklace is said to be a favorite of the current Queen Elizabeth II.

Queen Alexandra’s Dagmar Necklace

A remarkable necklace in the Queen’s personal jewelry collection is known as the Dagmar Necklace which was given by King Frederik VII of Denmark to Princess (later Queen) Alexandra upon her marriage to the Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII) in 1863.  The necklace was designed in a Byzantine style comprising of alternating diamond and pearls swags set in gold connected with diamond and pearl medallions also set in gold and features a replica of the famous Dagmar Cross, hence the name of the necklace.  The history is that Queen Dagmar was buried with a similar cross laid on her breast and since then the tradition is that when Danish princesses are married they wear a replica of the cross.  The Byzantine style cross on the necklace is detachable with an image of Christ at the center with four additional saintly images on the front while the back depicts a scene from the Crucifixion, included within the cross is a piece of silk from the grave of King Canute and a sliver of wood from the original Dagmar Cross.  Upon the death of Queen Alexandra in 1925, the necklace was given to the Crown eventually passing to Queen Elizabeth II; she appropriately wore the necklace on her state visit to Denmark in 1957.

The Grand Duchess Vladimir Tiara

The Grand Duchess Vladimir, Maria Pavlovna, was the wife of the Grand Duke Vladimir Alexanrovich and the aunt of the Tsar Nicholas II of Russia.  The tiara was created specifically for her in 1874 by the Russia royal jewelers and was a semi-circular band made of platinum with a design consisting of fifteen interlaced circles set with diamonds and a band of diamonds across the top with pearls drops and small diamonds mounted inside each of the circles.

With the start of the Russian Revolution in 1917, many Russian royalty members including the Grand Duchess fled the country but most of her fabulous jewels were hidden in a secret vault in the Palace.  Sadly, Tsar Nicholas and his family were murdered by the Bolsheviks in 1918.   The Grand Duchess lived exiled from Russia first in Venice, Italy and later she moved to the south of France.  Her jewels, including the tiara were eventually smuggled of out Russia by a trusted British diplomat and returned to the Grand Duchess.   When she died in 1920 her jewels and the tiara were given to her daughter, the Grand Duchess Elena Vladimirona, who married Prince Nicholas of Greece.  As the family’s vast fortune was reduced, she sold several pieces of jewelry, including the tiara, to Queen Mary in 1921.

By this time the tiara was in very poor condition and in need of repairs.  The tiara was refurbished by Garrard, the royal jewelers, and Queen Mary decided to make the original teardrop pearls interchangeable with her famous Cambridge emeralds.  When Queen Mary died in 1953, the Vladimir Tiara was given to her granddaughter, Queen Elizabeth II.

Queen Elizabeth wears this versatile tiara frequently and it is also one of her favorites, sometimes she will wear it with the original pearl drops, sometimes with the Cambridge emeralds and she has even worn the tiara with no pendants at all.

Kensington Bow Brooch 

The Kensington Bow Brooch was inherited by Queen Elizabeth from the large jewelry collection of her maternal grandmother, Queen Mary.  The brooch was a gift to mark the 1893 wedding of Princess May of Teck (the future Queen Mary) to the Duke of York (the future King George V) She wore the brooch at both the coronations of King Edward VII (her father-in-law) and King George V (her husband) The brooch was made by Collingwood & Co. with two rows of diamonds set in silver and gold to resemble a bow tied around a single large diamond in the center with a detachable pave set baroque pearl pendant.  Queen Elizabeth inherited the brooch in 1953 and often wears it to secure a sash at her shoulder for formal events and has infrequently worn it without the pearl drop for more casual day appearances.  Most recently the Queen wore the Kensington Bow Brooch at the funeral of her mother, Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother, who died in 2002.

Cambridge Lovers Knot Tiara

In 1914 Queen Mary commissioned Garrard to recreate the tiara of Princess Augusta of Hesse-Cassel, her maternal grandmother, who was the Duchess of Cambridge.  According to her will, when Queen Mary died she left the tiara to her granddaughter, Queen Elizabeth II.  The tiara was later given to Diana, Princess of Wales, as a wedding present and she who wore often.  After her divorce from Prince Charles in 1996 the tiara was returned to the Queen.

The tiara is French Neo-Classical in a design which features 19 openwork frames of diamonds in the form of arches with 19 graduated large pearl drops.  At the top of each arch are lover’s knot bows with a large diamond at the center.

Princess Elizabeth’s bridal jewelry

On her wedding day, Princess Elizabeth wore two pearl necklaces. The shorter one was known as the Queen Anne necklace, possibly belonging to the last Stuart Queen of England.  The longer one was known as the Queen Caroline necklace which had belonged to the wife of King George II.  Both necklaces became the possession of Queen Victoria and upon her death they were left them to the Crown.  Prior to the wedding day King George VI, the bride’s father, gave them to Princess Elizabeth as a wedding present.

The pearl and diamond earrings that Princess Elizabeth wore on her wedding day were a 20th birthday present from her grandmother, Queen Mary, who had originally inherited them from her mother, Princess Mary Adelaide of (Cambridge) Teck.

Jackie Bouvier’s wedding bracelet

On the night before the wedding John Kennedy gave Jackie a beautiful diamond and pearl bracelet which she wore on her wedding day, the bracelet is shown in the photo below.  Jackie also wore a pearl necklace which was a gift from her mother and step-father. 

For more information on creating a Pearl Wedding theme, please click on the link

The History of Lockets

In this post, I will start will the history of lockets and the various types that have been available throughout the years.  To conclude the post I will discuss a few special historical lockets.  A locket by definition is “a small ornamental case for a photograph or other keepsake which is usually worn as a pendant” on a simple chain but lockets an also be made in the form of a ring or brooch.  A traditional locket can be in the shape of an oval, a circle or a heart and can be available is gold or silver or other precious metals.

A locket would make a wonderful gift for the groom to give to the bride perhaps with photos of the bride and groom carefully tucked inside.  An heirloom locket would be a very sentimental gift given to the bride from her parents on her wedding day.  This could be especially poignant if one of her parents has passed away.   A locket can also be given to the bridesmaids and/or a flower girl presented to them at the bridal shower as a commemorate item to remember the wedding day.

The History of Lockets

Modern day lockets evolved centuries earlier from amulets (an ornament or small piece of jewelry) which were thought to give protection against evil, danger, or disease.  In Middle Time or the Renaissance, early lockets were worn by either women or men and could be a pendant, a ring, a brooch or as a watch fob.  People would frequently display miniature portraits of loved ones or sometimes small pictures of the King or Queen to show their loyalty to the crown.  Sometimes the lockets were made with small openings in which small perfumed fabric squares were placed to camouflage the stench for the unpleasant sanitary conditions.

Mourning jewelry became popular in the 17th century with the execution of Charles I in 1649, supporters of the former King secretly wore miniature portraits of him set in lockets and rings.  Later in the 18th century, mourners wore intricately decorated lockets in which locks of a “dearly departed” family member were arranged in a special way. Mourning jewelry increased in popularity in the Victorian era after the Queen’s husband, Prince Albert, death.  As the Queen went into a long period of intense mourning she wore a special locket dedicated to the memory of her beloved husband which set a fashion trend.  An entire jewelry industry was soon started that specifically produced affordable items for the upper and middle classes.

Today, lockets are available in a variety of shapes and sizes; the most popular is the sentimental heart shape.  Lockets make great gifts for special occasions such as birthdays, anniversaries, christening or other religious ceremonies and also for holidays like Valentine’s Day and Christmas.  Traditional styles are available in a variety of precious metals such as gold or silver and can be embellished with gemstones such as diamonds or pearls.  Most recently the more modern “floating charm” lockets have become very popular and are available with several different choices of charms and other inserts such as engraved discs with special messages.

Different Types of Lockets

Described below are the various types of lockets that are available, some new ones can be purchased at a fine jewelry or department store while the vintage or older ones can be purchased at antiques stores or online at sites such as eBay.  Special Note: When shopping for a vintage locket here are some tips – the locket should be in good condition, check the hinges and interior, also avoid lockets that are damage or heavily scratched.

  • Keepsake Lockets – This type of locket can make a wonderful gift to commemorate a special occasion such as a birth, a first communion or wedding. Usually keepsake lockets have a space in which to place a small photo behind a plastic cover or a glass enclosure to place a lock of hair or other small memorabilia.  This style of locket is perhaps the most popular one.


  • Vintage Perfume Lockets – As previously mentioned, centuries ago lockets were sometimes made with small filigree style openings in which perfumed fabric squares were placed inside to camouflage the stench due to unpleasant odors from limited personal hygiene and rather disagreeable smells from sanitary conditions in the streets. Today, perfume lockets can be made as a DIY craft project and if you are interested in creating your own I would recommended a search on the internet for the supplies required and instructions to create your own.

  • Vintage Daguerreotype Picture Locket – This variation of a keepsake locket featured a Daguerreotype photograph. The process was first introduced in 1839 and in the following decades it became less expensive to produce so that small daguerreotypes could be used in watch cases, fobs brooches and lockets.  The soft metal daguerreotypes could be reduced in size and then set and sealed behind glass.  These types of lockets were very popular in North America at the onset and during the duration of the Civil War.


  • Mourning or memorial lockets – Mourning lockets have been around for some time and in England, during the Victorian Era, they were especially popular. This might be possibly due to the fact that Queen Victoria was in deep mourning after the death of her husband and she wore a locket which contained a small daguerreotype of Prince Albert and a lock of his hair, this set a fashion trend.


Historical Lockets from the Past

Below are listed some examples of historical lockets from centuries ago:

  • In the late 16th century, Queen Elizabeth I commissioned a special locket ring which contained a portrait of herself and one of her mother Anne Boleyn (who was the 2nd wife of King Henry VIII that died in May 19, 1536).  The ring was possibly made in 1575 and it features a mother of pearl band with diamonds and rubies set in gold.  The ring has an “E” set with six diamonds placed over a blue enamel “R” and a hinge opens to reveal the portraits inside.  Elizabeth wore the ring until her death in 1603 when it was removed; it eventually found its way to the Home family that acquired some of the possessions of King James I.  The ring is now the property of the Trustees of Chequers and that is currently on display there, Chequers is the official residence of the Prime Minister and is located in Buckinghamshire, England.  (Special Note: During the Elizabethan era, artists were commissioned to paint miniature portraits and many were placed in elaborately designed lockets which were very expensive pieces owned the nobility or the very wealthy of the upper class who could afford to pay the artists)

  • The “Penicuik Locket” once belonged to Mary Queen of Scots is an enameled gold locket which features miniature portraits of Mary and her son James. The companion necklace has 14 large oval filigree beads with several small circular beads that originally contained perfume.  The piece received its name because after Mary’s execution in 1587 the locket fell into the possession a former servant named Giles Mowbray, it then passed to his granddaughter who married into the Clerk family of Penicuik (hence the name) and is currently on display at the National Museum of Scotland located in Edinburgh.

  • The next locket holds a historical piece of wartime memorabilia and it contains the bullet that killed Admiral Horatio Lord Nelson at the Battle of Trafalagar in 1805. The locket is currently part of the Royal Collection Trust.  The bullet was fired from a French naval ship the “Redoubtable” and hit Lord Nelson’s in the left shoulder passing through his spine and vertebrae and lodging just below in his right shoulder.  Lord Nelson was carried below deck and the bullet was removed by a surgeon named William Beatty on board the HMS Victory but the wound caused fatal damage to Lord Nelson’s lungs and spine and he died three hours later. Lord Nelson’s posthumous victory over the French and Spanish fleets made him a national hero and afterwards the bullet, with a piece of Lord Nelson’s naval uniform still attached, was set in a crystal case locket which Surgeon Beatty gave to Queen Victoria in 1842.

  • Shown below is a small memorial locket which is said to have belonged to Lord Nelson. The gold locket features an oval onyx and a diamond “star” set in the middle with an blue enamel inscription around the boarder that reads “Die reine Seele schwingt sich auf zu Gott” in German, the English translation is “The pure soul flies up above to the Lord”.  Inside the locket on the left is a lock of hair and on the right is a small photo of Prince Albert who was Queen Victoria’s husband.  When he died in 1861 at Windsor Castle, the Queen went into a deep period of mourning and she ordered that the Blue Room in which the Prince died would be left perpetually as it was on the day that he died, the “Albert Locket” was place in the room, and this promise was kept until her own death in 1901.


Special Note: This post originally appeared on my other blog, the Enchanted Manor.