Wedding bonnet

Today’s photo is also courtesy of Ray Jackson. It shows a lovely cabinet card sized wedding portrait of a young woman and her husband. I read on Patches of the Past that even though the most wealthy could and often would wear white dresses for their marriage, many women simply wore their best dress and a wedding bonnet. The bonnet consisted of flowers, ribbons and netting, and was a sentimental piece the bride could keep and treasure, while her best dress was worn again and again. This particular bride also has a floral adornment across her bodice which could have independently signified this as a wedding photo. You can also see that trailing from her bonnet are the ribbons tied in lovers knots with flowers. Some have suggested that the number of knots would signify the number of children the couple would have. Yikes!

The dress our bride has chosen to wear is a simple first bustle era dress, dating the photograph to 1870-1876. One way we know this is first bustle, I learned recently that the dresses were “one complete dress” whereas in the second bustle era, there was a skirt, over drape and bodice, all working together. I find it strange that she chose to wear white shoes with her dark colored dress. I once read that Laura Ingalls wore a dress of dark red merino wool for her wedding, so I am picturing this dress in that fabric.

The photographer was most likely Henry Levin(e), found in Chicago directories to have been in business in 1876 and possibly partnered with Jacob Maul, although the records are a bit confusing. He is later found at the same address in 1892.


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