Friday, May 04, 2012

Guest Blog by Zoë Archer - Wedding Customs

Please welcome Zoë Archer to The Qwillery. Demon's Bride (Hellraisers 2) was published on May 1, 2012.

Wedding Customs

DEMON’S BRIDE, the second book in my Hellraisers romance series, opens where many romances often end—with a wedding. The wedding is between Leo Bailey, a wealthy commoner, and Anne Hartfield, the daughter of an impoverished baron. Leo and Anne barely know each other. Their marriage is mutually beneficial: Anne can have material wealth unlike any she’s ever known, and Leo gains the prestige and status of having an aristocratic wife. Neither Leo nor Anne have any illusions about the nature of their union. They don’t expect love.

It seems a strange way to start a marriage, but ideas of romantic love weren’t given as much consideration in 18th century marriages, especially not if you were socially and financially ambitious. Engagements were short—or, in Anne and Leo’s case, very short—since premarital sex was frowned upon. A bride and groom could marry within months of meeting each other, just as Anne and Leo do.

Like other brides and grooms of the time, Anne and Leo are married in church, then sign their names in the parish register. All 18th century wedding ceremonies were performed in the morning hours between 8 a.m. and 12 p.m., as specified by Hardwicke’s Marriage Act of 1753.

After the ceremony, it’s time for the wedding breakfast. A wedding is a time of celebration, a time to show your guests not just hospitality, but to impress them with your own prosperity. Anne and Leo proceed from the church to his home in Bloomsbury for the celebration. The “breakfast” could last all day and into the night, with an abundance of wine, cakes, and roast meats for the guests. Then, as now, dancing was common as part of the celebration.

White hadn’t been adopted yet as the preferred color for brides—that came later, in the 19th century—but often a bride wore blue, which represents purity. In keeping with custom, Anne wears a gown of blue Spitalfields silk, trimmed with silver lace. Tuxedoes and morning coats hadn’t been created yet, so a groom wore his best clothing. In fact, when one aristocrat was hanged for murder, he wore his wedding clothing to the scaffold, all the better to put on a show for the spectators. For his wedding, Leo even powders his hair, despite the fact that he hates hair powder.

The honeymoon, or bridal journey, was still a relatively new custom in the 18th century, but it’s still established enough that the fact that Leo and Anne are not going on a bridal journey is remarked upon by the guests. Though the 18th century is considered part of the modern era, one custom lingered from earlier times. The bride was taken up to the nuptial bedchamber and made ready for her husband by her close female relatives. They dressed the bride in her nightgown and got her into bed. Then the male guests escort the groom to the bedchamber, singing bawdy songs all the while. It wasn’t uncommon for the guests to stand outside the bedroom and shout encouragements to the groom through the door. Leo makes sure to dismiss the guests before they get to that point!

And then…well, you’ll just have to read to find out what happens next with Leo and Anne. ;)

What modern wedding customs do you find strange, or relics of the past? Leave a comment, and I’ll pick a winner to receive a copy of DEMON’S BRIDE (US/Canada only). [see "The Giveaway" below.]

About the Hellraisers

Demon's Bride
The Hellraisers, Book 2
Zebra, May 1, 2012
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 370 pages

Read an excerpt.

Hell to Pay

Leo Bailey may have been born to poverty, but ruthless business sense and sparkling intelligence have made money worries a thing of his past. It doesn't hurt that the Devil himself has granted Leo the ability to read the future.

But even infallible predictions are a déclassé commoner's trick to some members of the ton. They'll never see Leo as their equal - one good reason to prove himself their better. And a noble marriage is an obvious start.

Bookish Anne Hartfield, daughter of a baron, is hardly the flashiest miss on the marriage market. But her thoughtful reserve complements Leo's brash boldness in an attraction neither can deny. A whirlwind courtship sweeps Anne and Leo into a smoldering marriage before either can believe their luck. But happiness built on Leo's dark powers can't last. Soon, Anne will have to save her husband...or lose her heart.

Devil's Kiss
Hellraisers, Book 1
Zebra, December 6, 2011
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 370 pages

Read and Excerpt

A Handsome Devil

1762. James Sherbourne, Earl of Whitney, is a gambling man. Not for the money. But for the thrill, the danger—and the company: Whit has become one of the infamous Hellraisers, losing himself in the chase for adventure and pleasure with his four closest friends.

Which was how Whit found himself in a gypsy encampment, betting against a lovely Romani girl. Zora Grey’s smoky voice and sharp tongue entrance Whit nearly as much as her clever hands—watching them handle cards inspires thoughts of another kind...

Zora can’t explain her attraction to the careless blue-eyed Whit. She also can’t stop him and his Hellraisers from a fiendish curse: the power to grant their own hearts’ desires, to chase their pleasures from the merely debauched to the truly diabolical. And if Zora can’t save Whit, she still has to escape him…

About Zoë

Zoë Archer is an award-winning romance author who thinks there's nothing sexier than a man in tall boots and a waistcoat. As a child, she never dreamed about being the rescued princess, but wanted to kick butt right beside the hero. She now applies her master's degrees in Literature and Fiction to creating butt-kicking heroines and heroes in tall boots. She is the author of the acclaimed BLADES OF THE ROSE series and the paranormal historical romance series, THE HELLRAISERS. She and her husband, fellow romance author Nico Rosso, created the steampunk world of THE ETHER CHRONICLES together. Her steampunk romance, SKIES OF FIRE, is now available from Avon Impulse, and Nico’s steampunk Western, NIGHT OF FIRE, will be available in July. Zoë and Nico live in Los Angeles.

Website, Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr

The Giveaway


What:  One commenter will win a copy of Demon's Bride from Zoë!  US/Canada Only.

How:  Leave a comment answering Zoë's question:

What modern wedding customs do you find strange, or relics of the past?

Please remember - if you don't answer the question your entry will not be counted.

You MUST leave a way to contact you.

Who and When:  The contest is open to all humans on the planet earth with a US or Canadian mailing address. Contest ends at 11:59pm US Eastern Time on Friday, May 18, 2012. Void where prohibited by law. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 years old or older to enter.

*Giveaway rules are subject to change.*


  1. Great post! I've always thought the custom of saving a slice of cake for a year was strange. And gross. (

  2. Love the post and will just have to pick up one of your books! I never quite understood the garter. We don't need it, the groom makes a big deal about removing it in front of the guests and then tosses it. At most weddings the man who caught the garter then proceedes to put it on the leg of the woman that caught the bridal flowers. ?? Makes no sense to me, but it is usually a fun time for all involved.

  3. I think the father giving the daughter away is strange. Yes it made sense in the past when the woman was viewed as property, but that isn't the case anymore.

  4. A relic, IMO, is for the bride to wear white!

    +1 comment
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    Tracey D
    booklover0226 at gmail dot com

  5. Well, I may date myself here, not sure if they still do this, but the dance with the bride for money. I agree with the cake comment and the garter one, but it can be funny to watch if the participants play it up!

  6. I love the blue dress in the picture above but cannot imagine having to wear the cage underneath to make it poof like that. I cannot put a finger on any one thing I think would be a relic of the past outside of the bride having to wear white. I was happy when my daughter chose a darker cream color to get married in. She is getting married the 26th. My ex thought it crazy she wasn't wearing white and when I asked him what was going to happen when she didn't wear white, he couldn't answer. It doesn't matter were she to walk down the isle in black, the love they share is what will make this marriage work. Not the color she chose for one day.

  7. I think the money dance is one of the dumbest traditions. I think it cheapens the entire wedding.


  8. There are many superstitions that we all follow - something new, something old, something blue. That is all I can think of.
    debby236 at gmail dot com

  9. Going back to historicals, a couple of the traditions that I am glad no one does anymore is part of the bedding traditions. The guys stripping the groom and putting him in bed with an equally naked bride (all the while getting a good look at her) and the hanging of the bedsheet the next morning to prove that the bride had been a virgin.
    manning_j2004 at yahoo dot com

  10. In Asian weddings, the bride can have up to about five dresses for her day--one for each event. Imagine the stress of shopping for one dress, and then multiply that!

    julieguan AT gmail DOT com

  11. Great post. Hard to reconcile the covers of your books with the story line but as an 18th C British Lit major I'm eager to read them.

    The tradition I find strangest is the smashing of cake by the bride and groom into each others' faces. The whole reception should have a cake fight then.


  12. Awesome post! I so want to read more about Leo and Anne! I can't think of any other strange customs, but the ones mentioned are very interesting.

  13. I think keeping a piece of cake for year is nasty. Don't understand it. Please enter me in contest. I am a follower and email subscriber.

  14. The custom of "giving the bride away" has a more emotional connotation now than it used to when bride prices & dowries where still used. It's nice that it changed from the father giving the bride, to both parents or even the brides children.

    sallans d at yahoo dot com

  15. I think the bride and groom not seeing each other before the wedding is a little strange.

    I follow the blog.