There's no better celebration of any season than the decorated tree adorned with the rich symbolism of nature—my ritual to inform and inspire you in the journey called life.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

white wedding

WHO  KNEW?  Queen Victoria wore a white wedding dress. That in itself may not seem like news at all, but since she's widely credited with starting the tradition, it's a revelation. It followed that Victorian era elites, rapturously reading and writing the etiquette books of the day, took Victoria's lead and embellished it with the "connotation of innocence and sexual purity." 

FAST  FORWARD to over a century later and the Billy Idol song "White Wedding" served to heighten the fantasy of a virgin bride. Some say that he wrote the song to express his displeasure with his sister's fiancé impregnating her before marrying her. It was a nice day (meaning the '80s) for a white wedding, because it was one of Idol's most successful songs.

VICTORIA and husband/cousin Albert are also subsequently credited for popularizing the modern Christmas tree. Either alone is a testament to the great effect these kissing cousins had on modern culture. She was the longest-ruling monarch of Great Britain (64 years!), during a time of economic and imperial expansion (Albert died early in 1861). Victoria gave her name to the Victorian Era, but she was also nicknamed the "grandmother of Europe" since the fruitful couple had four sons and five daughters to keep the royal lineage going for decades to come (42 grandchildren).

“Married in white, you will have chosen all right. Married in gray, you will go far away. Married in black, you will wish yourself back. Married in red, you’ll wish yourself dead. Married in blue, you will always be true. Married in pearl, you’ll live in a whirl. Married in green, ashamed to be seen. Married in yellow, ashamed of the fellow. Married in brown, you’ll live out of town. Married in pink, your spirits will sink.”

—From The History of the White Wedding Dress by Kelsey McIntyre

IN  ANY  CASE, weddings are steeped in tradition, rituals and superstition all-at-once. A bridal set of ornaments is an elegant gift that brings the seasons all together in one set, whether used only around Christmas or separately throughout the year, or both. A wedding in June—is surprisingly only the second most popular month for weddings—even with the "June bride" being part of the cultural dialog. June falls just below September in wedding month popularity (according to the Knot). Victoria and Albert's wedding date was February 10, 1840, so the June bride didn't start there (that may go back to Roman times). In true Victoria (not Victorian) form, it seems like the only tradition today is to break with tradition, making your wedding unique—a reflection of your own personal style. Maybe, also, one day it won't be so unique for gay people to legally marry in this country and it will be passed into law, for better or worse. I doubt if it will interfere with the sanctity of marriage. And it certainly is better than marrying your cousin. Being a gay man from Alabama, I can say that with hope and conviction, having been in two long-term, live-together relationships, nine and six years respectively, both with whom I still maintain good friendships.

ACCORDING  TO  German tradition, a set of  bride's tree ornaments (all photos this post) are twelve symbols of a happy home—a nice gift to wish the newlywed couple success in marriage and life. Follow the numbers to find the meaning, ritual or superstition behind each:

1) BIRD | symbol of joy and happiness
ANGEL | symbol of guidance
RABBIT | reflects hope and peace with nature
FRUIT BASKET | symbolizes generosity and plenty
HEART | symbol of true love
PINE CONE | represents motherhood and fruitfulness
FLOWER BASKET | symbolizes good wishes or beauty in the home 
8) ROSE | symbol of affection  
9) HOUSE | represents protection or shelter
FISH | represents fertility and faith
TEAPOT | represents hospitality
SANTA | is a symbol of goodwill, giving and sharing

WRAPPING an heirloom such as this set of ornaments warrants a reusable box with protective squares of archival tissue. I've added squares of wide shimmery organza ribbon as an accent. The bride's ornament set can be found in pre-packaged gift-boxed sets, but since this set was found individually, an ornament box was necessary to contain it. This starter set of holiday ornaments can be used together at Christmas or individually, according to the season. Small inexpensive honeycomb wedding bells are a nice topper to the gift instead of a traditional bow (they can also be positioned half-opened, taped to the top of the wrapped box).

WEDDING TABLEAU | (Top) This unusually neutral white and silver bride's tree set was found individually a few seasons ago at Star Provisions in Atlanta. I had to replace the original house ornament which was broken with a similar one from the grand daddy of the German glassblowing tradition, Krebs Lauscha. (Center) I've numbered the set of ornaments to correspond with the list of their meanings. (Bottom) If found individually, it's a nice gesture to archive the ornaments for gift-giving and keeping. The linen napkin with beautiful silver-threaded stitching is by Thomas O'brien, from his Vintage Modern line for Target in 2005. The paper daisies were found at Michaels and the honeycomb wedding bells are from Martha Stewart Crafts.

photography and styling by Darryl Moland


  1. Hi Darryl
    I didn't know that Queen Victoria started off the 'white wedding'. I didn't know Billy Idol could be so disapproving either!
    I do love the gifts (haven't come across that tradition). They look beautiful, and wonderful sentiments behind the gifts too!

    Thanks for stopping by my blog - I don't know Ande personally, I found the blog through another. I'm sure you will get more comments on the keys, and I'm in the UK, so certainly wouldn't expect you to send them all the way over here anyway. I put your button on the side of my blog because I loved what you'd written and photographed,and as a thank you for introducing me to such a lovely book. (hopefully arriving any day now)

  2. Hello,
    Just came across your site from the blog guidebook.
    Really enjoyed reading and see your unique trees.
    Very nice work.
    We love everything to do with the holidays as well.
    All the best