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Jewelry shopping can be intimidating. That’s why we started Ask Holden, our blog where we answer your FAQs, break down scary industry lingo, and guide you in finding the perfect piece of jewelry.
Today, we’re talking about royals. We are familiar with the wedding of William and Kate, but I’m more interested in Will’s great great great great grandmother (I *think* this is the correct number of greats). Yes, Queen Victoria. Because other than being the Queen of England, she deserves another crown: original wedding influencer.
Granted, Victoria married her first cousin and ruled England for 63 years, which is where she most likely differs from anyone reading this post (FYI #1: it’s illegal to marry your first cousin in 24 states) (FYI #2: if being monarch of England for 63 years is in your future, ~hello~ let’s chat).
It’s been a real minute since taking European history in high school, so I can’t speak to the Queen’s politics, but today, we’re looking at one day in her life: her undeniably epic 1840 wedding.
Queen Victoria: Original Wedding Influencer
The festivities began because Queen Victoria, influencer and powerhouse, was the one who proposed to Prince Albert (very 2019 Lindsey Vonn of her). Although technically she was required to propose due to royal protocol, we still *love* to see it. Also: she proposed to Prince Albert only five days after his arrival to Windsor Castle (the second time he’d ever visited). Sounds sort of like the official inspiration for every romcom where characters fall in love in one weekend, but that being said, she liked it and she put a ring on it!
Queen Victoria singlehandedly popularized the tradition of wearing white as a wedding gown - previously, women were more likely to choose brightly colored dresses that could be re-worn for other occasions. Only the super-elite wore white gowns, and even though a white gown would later come to be known to signify purity (sigh, no comment), they used to be white to symbolize that a family was wealthy enough to afford a gown that could be kept clean! Also, her train was 18 feet long. In other news, the sapphire and diamond ring Prince William proposed to Kate Middleton with? The style, which William inherited from his late mother Diana, is very much inspired by a brooch (“something blue," anyone?) on Queen Victoria’s wedding dress.
Queen Victoria’s engagement ring was shaped like a serpent (which symbolized commitment and wisdom at the time but also is, in my opinion, inherently bad*ss) and featured rubies, diamonds, and an emerald (her birthstone - for those of you into astrology - Victoria was a TRIPLE GEMINI aka a fun hang). We don’t have many details on her actual wedding ring, but if you want to take a look at some beautiful wedding rings fit for a monarch, might I recommend Holden rings?
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The Queen’s wedding cake was 300 pounds and nine feet in diameter! A surviving piece (tbh, not surprised her guests weren’t able to eat the entire cake) was sold in 2016 for $2,100. Yum! Wedding cakes became more common after Victoria’s wedding - thank you to the queen for making future weddings sweeter! Queen Victoria was also an early proponent of putting small figurines on top of cakes - her cake was topped with mini Victoria and Albert dressed like ancient Romans.
Photographic techniques weren’t advanced enough yet to get photographs at the wedding itself (although there were drawings and paintings galore). That being said, in the most influencer move of all time, Victoria wasn’t satisfied, and 14 years later, she and Albert dressed up again in their wedding finery to take an official wedding portrait. Can anyone say #latergram????
The Costume Change
The Queen changed into a different outfit for the reception, giving her guests an entirely new look to admire. That’s a modern-day tradition as well, as it’s way easier to get down to Beyoncé in something other than a full-length gown. For full transparency, the new outfit Victoria changed into featured a bonnet, which, admittedly, is probably not featured heavily in modern ceremonies. But I am 100% on board to Bring Back the Bonnet in 2020!
The Irish Goodbye
Queen V also ditched her own wedding, peacing out 4 hours before the festivities were over. I gotta say, the more I learn about this woman, the more I love her.
The Wedding Night
Victoria spent much of her wedding night with a terrible headache, but according to her journals, the night of her wedding was one of the greatest nights of her life. She wrote:
“My dearest dearest dear Albert sat on a footstool by my side, and his excessive love and affection gave me feelings of heavenly love and happiness, I never could have hoped to have felt before! He clasped me in his arms, and we kissed each other again and again! His beauty, his sweetness and gentleness, really how can I ever be thankful enough to have such a Husband! – At ½ p.10 I went and undressed and was very sick, and at 20 m. p.10 we both went to bed; (of course in one bed), to lie by his side, and in his arms, and on his dear bosom, and be called by names of tenderness, I have never yet heard used to me before – was bliss beyond belief! Oh! this was the happiest day of my life! – May God help me to do my duty as I ought and be worthy of such blessings!”
Queen Victoria’s wedding had an enormous impact on traditional Western wedding culture. While some of these “standards” remain inspirational, as we’ve moved into the twenty-first century, wedding culture has become more progressive and inclusive. If you choose to be inspired by Victoria, she is a highly influential figure! If you would prefer to draw wedding inspo elsewhere, it’s the 2020s - the world is your oyster. Case closed!