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It is hard to believe that the “roaring twenties” of the 20th century was one hundred years ago! Since this time, there have been changes in wedding traditions, styles, and customs. However some things have stayed the same. In this post we will explore the differences between modern weddings of the 21st century and those one hundred years ago. 

Small weddings were common during the 1920s and these included elopement or a civil ceremony at city hall.  If the couple planned a large affair, a justice of the peace was utilized to make the marriage official.  Flash forward to 2020 and we now have many couples who host affairs with 125-190 people on their guest list as “the norm.” 

A common practice among couples today is for one or both parents to walk the couple down the aisle. During the 1920s, many brides chose to walk down the aisle by themselves, rather than having their fathers included in this tradition.  This was a demonstration of independence and empowerment.

During this decade, new traditions were created in which couples still utilize today. The wedding registry was started by Marshall Fields in 1924, with the intention of letting family and friends know which silver, China and crystal designs they preferred. This creation gathered steam by spreading to other department stores of the time. 

With the technological development of film and cameras, the wedding industry of the 1920s took advantage of this. The first fully automatic film developing machine was created in 1928. This allowed photographers to come at a certain time of the day to take photos of the bride and groom. After World War II when one film technology was introduced, photographers were able to stay for the whole event to take photos. 

As we look back 100 years ago, there were many social changes occuring in the United States. For women living during this time, fashion was booming and the flapper image was introduced. Many women wore the classic flapper style: a low cut and short dress with fringe and “over the top” embellishments. There was almost always a headdress included with the entire outfit.  This mainstream style heavily influenced how brides dressed during the “roaring twenties.” 

All About the Bride!

The Dress – During the 1920s, styles for wedding dresses became shorter. Brides took advantage of access to unique fabrics, beading and embroidery.  Many dresses also included embellishments such as metallics, gemstones and sequins. 

Accessories and Makeup – In the 1920s many brides started to move away from the traditional long white, lace veil. To replace this, a capped veil headdress or headpiece that did not extend below the shoulders was used. Usually this would include feathers, beading and sequins. Long layered pearls were chosen to be worn on their wedding day by many brides.  They were typically worn by being draped over the brides’ shoulders. 

Today many brides wear makeup on their wedding day. One hundred years ago brides still held makeup in high regard. The smokey eye look was a popular one during this time. Black eye shadow was made out of coal and petroleum jelly.  Rouge was utilized for blush as well as an even coat of foundation and powder. Lipstick colors were typically bold, outlined and filled with red. If the wedding took place during the autumn or winter seasons, a berry color was used.

Let’s not forget about the Grooms! 

Dress- There have not been many significant changes to the groom’s look over the past one hundred years.  The greatest difference would be the material of the suit. In the 1920s wool or tweed was utilized. In addition to this, the groom would wear a lapel and top hat. 

Accessories- Grooms would wear suspenders under their suit jacket. A pocket square was also a popular accessory. Similar to today’s wedding fashion, the attire typically worn was black. 

Sources used: 

Hendricks, Sara. “Here’s What Weddings Looked like the Year You Were Born.” Insider, Insider, 14 Feb. 2018, https://www.insider.com/how-weddings-have-changed-2018-2

Menyes, Carolyn. “The Biggest Wedding Trends in Every Decade Since 1900 Slideshow.” The Daily Meal, The Daily Meal, 18 July 2017, https://www.thedailymeal.com/entertain/biggest-wedding-trends-every-decade-1900-slideshow.

Nicole. “Weddings Traditions Of The 1900’s – by Maui Photographer Behind The Lens Maui: Maui Wedding Photographer Nicole Sanchez.” Behind The Lens Maui, 8 May 2012, https://www.behindthelensmaui.com/2012/05/weddings-traditions-of-the-1900s/.

Person. “7 Old-Fashioned Wedding Traditions That Have Disappeared.” Country Living, Country Living, 24 Jan. 2018, https://www.countryliving.com/life/a38375/wedding-traditions/.

Simpson, Megan. “Fun & Frivolous Wedding Trends from The Roaring ’20s.” Inside Weddings, Fun & Frivolous Wedding Trends from The Roaring ’20s.

Staff, Country Living. “Here’s What Weddings Looked Like the Year You Were Born.” Country Living, Country Living, 10 Dec. 2019, https://www.countryliving.com/entertaining/g3222/history-of-weddings/?slide=11.

“Vintage 1920’s Weddings.” Florida Bride Magazine ®, 11 May 2016, https://florida-bride.com/home/vintage-style/vintage-1920s-weddings/.

“Wedding History- Weddings From The 1920’s.” Wedding History – Weddings From The 1920’s, 1954, https://www.oldandsold.com/articles03/article1263.shtml.

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