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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Regency Weddings by Diane Gaston

Hello, Everyone! It is a treat to be my friend Melissa's guest blogger. I hope when you all are not reading Harlequin Romance that you pick up Harlequin Historicals. We love weddings, too. In fact, my new book, Scandalizing the Ton, has a wedding in it, but not your typical Church or Wedding Hall-type wedding.

I'll be giving away an autographed copy of Scandalizing the Ton to one lucky commenter. All you have to do is comment on this blog (Really say something, not just "nice blog") and I'll select a winner at random by noon eastern time Sept 17.

I write Regency Historical Romance for Harlequin Historical. "Regency" means the story is set in England in the early 1800s, the time of Jane Austen, Beau Brummell and Lord Byron, the war with Napoleon, and when King George III went mad and his son was declared Prince Regent. The Regency was a time of great drama and beauty, a time when lords and ladies were expected to marry well, but also a time when the concept of marrying for love had taken hold. From Jane Austen to Georgette Heyer to today's Regency Romance authors, that concept of marriage for love is what we celebrate.

I was married a brazillion years ago, long before I started writing or reading Regency Romance, but one day recently I realized I had actually had a Regency Wedding!

Here I am with my bridesmaids. Notice that our dresses are all empire-waisted. Notice the leg-o-mutton sleeves on my dress and the puffed sleeves on the bridesmaids dresses.

Now compare these dresses to two Regency Fashion Prints from the fashion magazines of 1815.

See the similarities?

I had a Regency Wedding!

And you can have a Regency Wedding, too. There are many sites on the internet offering custom made Regency wedding dresses. Here are two of them:

Regency Reproductions

Fashions in Time

Or if you are handy you could make your Regency gown:

McCall's Pattern 202 Regency era Empire Waisted Wedding Gown

In fact, if you so desire, you can have a Regency wedding in one of the historic sites in the UK.

This is St. George's, the church on Havover Square in Mayfair, London, where many Regency lords and ladies held their weddings. You can, too.

You can also have your wedding in the Prince Regent's summer home, the Brighton Pavilion in Brighton Hove.In a room like this:
If that is too fussy for you, or if you must marry in a hurry, like many couples in Regency Romances, you can elope to Gretna Green over the border in Scotland. Here I am standing at the historic anvil. Regency couples were married "over the anvil" in Gretna Green.
No, this isn't another wedding photo. It is me with the tour guide at Gretna Green when I visited in 2005. I'm holding a copy of The Wagering Widow which began with a Gretna Green wedding.

How about it? Have I convinced you to have a Regency Wedding?

Come visit my website to learn more about Scandalizing the Ton, my Regency paparazzi story with a scandalous Regency wedding of its own. View my video.

If you can't wait for the book to come to bookstores in October 2008, you can order one right now from eharlequin.com. While you are at it, pick up copies of The Wedding Planners. You'll be happy you did.

Ask me any questions you like about Regency Weddings, Regency Romance, or the Regency itself. I'll be stopping by all day to answer.

Do you read Regency Romance? What do you like or not like about it?

Remember, if you comment you have a chance of winning an autographed copy of Scandalizing the Ton.

Wedding Belles, thank you so much for inviting me to your "Wedding" celebration.

Diane is taking part in the Unleash Your Story fundraising for Cystic Fibrosis. Click here for more information.

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Blogger Monique Wood said...

I've never actually read a Regency Romance, but am interested in historical romance as a whole. I love being swept away to another time (give me a time machine and I'd be all over the place!). It appears you need to do a considerable amount of research to write one, which I find impressive!

September 16, 2008 at 2:24 AM  
Blogger Rachel said...

Hi Diane - thanks for all the Regency wedding info! I'd never considered it before, but it sounds very romantic.

Have you ever thought about renewing your vows with all authentic Regency elements?

By the way, having read all your other books, I'm really looking forward to Scandalizing the Ton. The good news is, it's out in Australia this month - from today! (I know coz my mother's being keeping an eye on the dates). You chose a good day to blog. :)

September 16, 2008 at 2:26 AM  
Blogger Julie Hilton Steele said...

Ever since I have heard of Gretna Green, I have been all over that. Here in NC, we used to say we would have to run to Dillon (over the line in South Carolina) to elope. Just not as romantic!

Peace, Julie

September 16, 2008 at 2:40 AM  
Blogger Eleni Konstantine said...

Fascinating info on Regency weddings Diane. And I love the comparison of your wedding dress to the Regency dresses *g*. Congrats on the release of your latest book.

September 16, 2008 at 2:54 AM  
Anonymous Hannah said...

About as close as I'd come to making my own regency wedding gown from a McCalls pattern is if I can cut arm holes in the packet and slip that on. LOL.

But your dresses ARE spookily regency aren't they. You must have been a subliminal channeler even then, Diane!

Love the cover of Scandalising the Ton.

Can I ask a Regency question? Why do they often refer to the word 'hall' as 'hell'. Eg: a gaming hall is called a gaming hell. I've seen it used often enough to twig that it's not someone's idea of a pun so I wondered what the background is there?

September 16, 2008 at 3:02 AM  
Blogger Melissa James said...

Your bridesmaids are strangely gone-With-The Wind-ish, Diane...mixing times in history there, LOL.

Fascinating info! If I ever return to Regency writing I'll check all these out.

Thanks so much for visiting!


September 16, 2008 at 3:17 AM  
Blogger Alison said...

Hi Diane,

I have read all your books and love 'em! I'm a historical fan and I really like picking up interesting little snippets of information. Like...is it true Rengency brides didn't wear white? And that Regency weddinsg were held in the mornings hence the Wedding Breakfast?

September 16, 2008 at 5:06 AM  
Blogger Diane Gaston said...

Good morning, everyone!

Monique, I hope you do try a Regency romance. Harlequin Historical publishes at least one a month and has some wonderful writers. Because the line now is acquired by the UK branch of Harlequin (Mills & Boon), there is a commitment to historical accuracy. One of the editors walked through Mayfair to see if my description of my heroine's street was accurate. It wasn't and I had to correct it!

September 16, 2008 at 5:38 AM  
Blogger Diane Gaston said...

Rachel and Alison, bless your hearts for reading my books and saying such kind things! Rachel, I'm thrilled the book is coming out in Australia this month. Australia used to get my books much later than the UK or NA.

I have not thought about renewing my wedding vows with a "real" regency wedding, but you have given me a reason to look into the Royal Pavilion as a location

September 16, 2008 at 5:45 AM  
Blogger Diane Gaston said...

Julie, if you google "Gretna Green weddings" you can see all the places where the wedding can be held. Around here, Maryland used to be the State where people eloped. I'm not sure if that is still true today.

Eleni, I was amazed when I looked at a wedding photo and realized how "Regency" my wedding had been.

Hannah, take another look at my bridesmaids' dresses. Those are home sewn. Women in my family all sew (not me so much but I can follow a pattern) - two of the bridesmaids are my sisters. The other bridesmaid, my sister in law has better credentials. Her grandmother used to make the manufacturers samples for Sue Brett (New York Dress manufacturer).

Lisa, I agree the bridesmaids' hats are "Gone With the Wind," but the dresses have a Regency silhouette, not that corseted waist and hooped skirt look. I might have channeled a little Scarlet O'Hara but it was mostly Regency. At the time I was just picking out what I liked!

September 16, 2008 at 5:55 AM  
Blogger Melissa James said...

Oh, and Diane, if you look below, you'll see Jaime all grown up and a bride...remember the little girl you first met? :-D


September 16, 2008 at 6:03 AM  
Blogger Diane Gaston said...

Now to answer the Regency questions!

Alison, it is NOT true that Regency brides did not wear white. One of my friends once did a workshop on that and had researched this pretty thoroughly. Most references to Regency weddings did describe the bride as wearing white. But the bride did not have to wear white. The tradition of wearing white seems to have some in with Queen Victoria, but it was always a popular selection. Brides also wore their wedding gown again for special functions, not like we do. White didn't signify virginity in the Regency (not sure younger readers would know that 'in my day' only virgins wore white - or supposedly....)In fact, the likely reason brides wore white in the Regency was that white was a very popular color, especially in ball gowns and other fancy clothes.

September 16, 2008 at 6:03 AM  
Blogger Melissa James said...

Oh...for those who don't know, Diane and I have been friends years before we were published. She came to us in New York and helped look after my kids, and I've stayed at her place twice. I'm waiting for her to come to me now. think I have more chance now I live in Europe. :-)))))


September 16, 2008 at 6:07 AM  
Blogger Diane Gaston said...

Hannah asked Why do they often refer to the word 'hall' as 'hell'. Eg: a gaming hall is called a gaming hell.

I didn't know the answer to this question, Hannah! I have never seen "hell" for "hall" except in reference to a "gaming hell."

I did look this up but couldn't find much. The only reference that addressed this directly said that they were called 'gaming hell's' because gamblers were often fleeced by dishonest games in these places, as opposed to private gentlemen's clubs like White's where the games were honest.

I could not find anything that defined "hell" as a derivation of "hall" but that doesn't mean it isn't! I'll put this question to the Beau Monde (the Regency chapter of Romance Writers of America). Those ladies know EVERYTHING about the Regency!

September 16, 2008 at 6:12 AM  
Blogger Diane Gaston said...

Melissa said Oh, and Diane, if you look below, you'll see Jaime all grown up and a bride...remember the little girl you first met? :-D

Omigosh, she is just beautiful!!! Melissa's daughter and I "bonded" over breakfast in that first New York trip, where she told me all about her life, at what? about age 12 or 13. She's a very special girl and I'm delighted she's found her own romance, wedding and happily-ever-after!

I am so hoping to visit Melissa! I think it is the chance of a lifetime and I'd be silly not to. Everybody, buy my books so I can afford the ticket!

September 16, 2008 at 6:19 AM  
Blogger Diane Gaston said...

I have a question for those of you in North America. Have you seen the cable TV show "Say Yes to the Dress"? It's on TLC.

I love that show! It's all about brides trying on wedding dresses in a huge bridal shop in NYC. It is such a happy show.

September 16, 2008 at 6:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

When I need some downtime I reach for a Regency Historical Romance and lose myself in the mood, the manners, the coquetry and the unfailing honour of the hero. Of course, I've read all the Diane Gaston books!Loved the Wagering Widow You must have enjoyed writing it.Why not feature the Prince Regent's Pavilion in a future story? It's ready-made for hi-jinks and scandals!
Diane, I had leg-o-mutton sleeves too!Caused a sensation being so different to the style of the time. Strangely, I don't think I've read a story which detailed a Regency wedding. Were they very different from what we've been used to? Keep thrilling us with your historicals. I can hardly wait for "Scandalizing the Ton" to be available here in OZ. Jacqueline

September 16, 2008 at 6:50 AM  
Blogger Diane Gaston said...

How nice of you to tell me you've enjoyed my books. I think of The Wagering Widow as my quiet gem. I really did love that story - set in a gaming "hell" by the way!
According to Rachel, Scandalizing the Ton is coming to Oz tomorrow.

Regency weddings used the ceremony from the Book of Common Prayer of 1662 .

I've seen one reference where the bride - Princess Charlotte - did not walk down the aisle, but entered through a side door. She was married in the Palace, not a church, however, but no grand entrance. No kiss at the end, either. And someone found a reference that said the bridesmaids threw silk shoes at the bride and groom for luck.

I did a Gretna Green wedding at the beginning of The Wagering Widow. It would be fun to do one at St. George's.

I forgot to answer Alison's question. Yes, in the Regency all church weddings had to be in the morning, between 8 am and 12 noon. I'm not sure why.... If marrying by special license, though, the marriage could take place at other times of day and in other locations. The bride and groom did have to sign a wedding register in the church. For a special license, one had to petition the Archbishop of Canterbury, swear you were who you said you were and that you were eligible to marry, and pay 5 pounds. The special license eliminated the need for banns being called for three weeks prior to the wedding

September 16, 2008 at 7:25 AM  
Blogger Gail Fuller said...

Diane, your wedding dress proves you were destined to write Regency romance. :) Renewing your vows Regency style is a great idea. Plus, you already have the dress. :)

Thanks for a wonderful post.
Gail :)

September 16, 2008 at 10:25 AM  
Blogger Diane Gaston said...

hahahahahahahaha, Gail. Do you think I can actually FIT into the dress?????

I'm convinced that I lived in the Regency in a past life. I also am convinced that I was a scullery maid in that past life!

September 16, 2008 at 10:59 AM  
Blogger Melissa James said...

Oh, yay, finally a sensible woman who doesn't believe she was an Egyptian princess or Babylonian priestess in her former life! I can't believe how many people have told me they were Sun Priestesses and sacrificed princesses. Some people had to be dairy maids and scrub floors or those princesses and priestesses wouldn't have gone far (without starving or slipping anyway) ;-P


September 16, 2008 at 11:40 AM  
Blogger Maureen said...

Hi Diane,
I have read and enjoyed your books and am looking forward to this next one. Some of the Regency romances I read the bride has a dress made and some they just wear something they have. I'm wondering what really did happen back then.

September 16, 2008 at 12:59 PM  
Blogger Diane Gaston said...

I have read and enjoyed your books and am looking forward to this next one. Some of the Regency romances I read the bride has a dress made and some they just wear something they have. I'm wondering what really did happen back then.

Hi, maureen! Are you the maureen who visits at Risky Regencies sometimes?

I suspect that those who could afford it would have a gown made for their wedding. But then they would wear that gown, either modified or not, at other events. People just didn't wear a dress one time unless fabulously wealthy. Any quick wedding would definitely have to be in a dress already made. There were not any "ready-to-wear" shops then--all were hand sewn.

As far as I can tell, weddings were not quite the once-in-a-lifetime celebration that they are now. All the Pomp and glitter for a wedding came later (and I don't research later :-) ) I suspect it was a bigger deal for a young lady to be presented to the Queen than to have a wedding. Those dresses were specially made for the occasion and they were probably not worn again.

September 16, 2008 at 1:40 PM  
Blogger Perth Deb said...

Yay!!! Scandalizing the Ton comes out here in Oz today! Will go into Perth today and have a look- and maybe do some strategic shelf rearranging ;)

Enjoyed your comments, Diane. You were a beautiful bride and your dress wasn't too dissimilar to my own...maybe we got married around the same time!

Writing for the Regency period- or any other historical period for that matter, must take a heck of a lot of research. How do you tackle the research angle?


September 16, 2008 at 4:18 PM  
Blogger Diane Gaston said...

Hey, Deb! Is this my friend Deb who lives in Perth? Either way, I'm delighted to have you "stop by."

I did answer this but blogger ate my response.

as for when I was married....a brazillion years ago!

Part of the fun of writing historicals is the research. I love learning about the Regency and the more I learn the more I want to know. Some of the knowledge is cumulative but for most books a whole new area needs to be researched - and new research books purchased! I love buying and reading research books and I've become fairly skilled at finding information on the internet.

What I usually do is enough research to be sure my story idea works, then I research as I go along and have a question or need some historic detail. Sometimes I find just what I need to enrich the story in a way I never imagined.

I should mention that my FAVORITE way to research is to travel to the UK and see for myself!!

September 16, 2008 at 6:41 PM  
Blogger Melissa James said...

Tell me when you next do that, Diane, and I'll meet you there!

Melissa xxx

September 16, 2008 at 10:25 PM  
Blogger Diane Gaston said...

I'm counting on it, Melissa!

September 16, 2008 at 10:45 PM  
Blogger Diane Gaston said...

I can now announce the winner of a signed copy of Scandalizing the Ton!

Picked at random using an online Research Randomizer, the winner is........

Rachel, email me at diane@dianegaston.com with your address.

Thank you, Wedding Belles, and you lovely commenters for having me as a guest. It has been fun!

September 17, 2008 at 9:31 AM  
Blogger Rachel said...

Wow, thanks so much! I can't wait to read it. :)

September 17, 2008 at 11:13 PM  
Anonymous Margaret said...

Diane, I'm way too late for the prize but I'm thrilled that your books are available in Australia because I LOVE your stories - so much more daring than the average Regency!

September 18, 2008 at 7:31 PM  
Blogger Diane Gaston said...

Thanks for the nice words, Marg! Wow my Aussie friends really showed up for this!

September 18, 2008 at 8:05 PM  

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