Wedding Dress

CMC PCD 94-684-015

Worn by Josephine Maud Spencer McTaggart; London, Ontario; 1884; silk, cotton, tulle. CMC D-10764

Worn in 1884 by the daughter of a wealthy Southern Ontario family, this wedding dress reflects the tastes and attitudes of Victorian society. Photographed on a mannequin, the two-piece dress with bustle and train is made of ivory ribbed silk, with banded silk-plush panels on the skirt and ruched tulle at the neck and wrists. It expresses the Victorian image of a demure and deferential bride wearing an exquisite white or ivory gown, whose colour symbolized purity and which would be worn only once. The veil, a tradition common to many cultures, was a kind of gift wrapping, preserving her "newness". A bouquet of orange blossoms, syringa, or white roses also enhanced the theme of purity.

The photograph shows the bride who wore this dress, her husband, and their attendants. The maid of honour is almost as elaborately gowned as the bride.

In the Victorian era, as today, a wedding offered an opportunity for the bride and her family not only to share their joy and hospitality, but also to display their wealth and finery. Weddings were simpler in less prosperous Victorian families. The bride chose a wedding dress in whatever colour pleased her, and continued to wear it on special occasions.