Thursday, May 3, 2012


Guipure lace   internet photo
A recent letter to Miss Manners asked what in the world was a bride-elect, as the writer had never heard such usage before.   Indeed, those of us raised on small-town weekly papers knew exactly what was meant---we girls, especially, read that paper cover-to-cover every week, skipping only the farm stuff and dry announcements and ads from the inside-back page.  The little happenings of the entire county, rich and poor, were printed right there every week---from the Pund’s anniversary dinner at the Catfish Shack to The Caviness Girl’s wedding, which featured twelve attendants, flowers flown in from Holland, seafood trucked up from Gollott’s, and the biggest tent set up in the county since Jimmy Swaggart preached that time.

  Our Friday Leader was rife with brides-elect and grooms-elect, right up to the morning of the wedding, when the young lady was offically The Bride.  Showers and teas and little gatherings featured the fancy-hyphenated term, with glossy descriptions of the honoree’s attire and corsage and the menu of each event.

Even the little weekly columns of uneventful events were scattered with Mesdames and Mssrs. who motored here and there to their engagements and appointments.  In fact, the word “appointments” was almost as popular in the social pages as the recipes at the end of each column---the word mostly used to mean somewhere you were supposed to be---a meeting or doctor’s visit or a talk with your Insurance Man. 

   And table appointments---those were delineated in great detail, down to the lace of the cloth, the silver epergne, and the kinds of dainty sandwiches and individual iced cakes served on doilied-up borrowed platters.

Guipure Lace was featured occasionally in a wedding story, and was murmured for days after, just for the beauty of the words---often by ladies married decades, and whose own claim to bridal lace might have consisted of a small inset across the bosom of a new slip from Sears.  Even they---especially they---mumbled the word as though tasting a sumptuous, sweet bite of rare fruit.

Alencon lace   internet photo

 Most brides chose Alencon, and Allenconn was the ne plus unh-hunh of garnish on a veil, with brides and their mothers flaunting the word about in every conversation, including under the dryer, for months before the actual event.   One Aunt-Of-The-Bride who “wrote up” a lot of the local important gatherings (as opposed to the usual town reporter, who called everybody in her area during the week to glean the comings and goings and had-over-for-suppers of the folks in her own specific area) became so enamored of the word that she went a bit overboard.

When she looked it up in her set of 1964 World Book (with an update  volume added to the end of the row every year, smelling of fresh ink and slick pages), she immediately homed in on the little squiggle at the bottom of the “C.”  Finding that it was pronounced like the “c” in fah-sahd, she had a momentary pang of embarrassment at her error, then settled the pronunciation into her vocabulary, using it with firm conviction thereafter, though a lot of ladies still remained blithely ignorant of her élan.

But before she took those double-spaced, elaborately worded pages to the paper for Friday’s edition, she went through the whole thing again and carefully added the little diacritical hook, even making a special trip up to Breedlove’s Office Supply and Printing for a new typewriter ribbon the exact shade of the ink in her roller-ball pen.  Of course, the wedding write-up in the County Leader came out with the same plain old lettering it always used, but Aunt knew what she knew, and the ladies at the paper KNEW she knew, so that was worth the trip.


Jane and Lance Hattatt said...

Hello Rachel:
Oh Rachel, bravo, bravo, for this is an absolute delight of a post. How we could visualise all these characters, and characters they surely are [or were]. You describe the whole scene of brides and grooms elect and the trappings that surround them with such vitality and a keen, observant eye. We loved every word, no letter, of it....right down to the C [accent omitted]!!

The Guipure lace at the start of your post is truly beautiful and we do wonder whether it is from a garment which you own. The deign is so intricate and one can but marvel at the workmanship involved.

jeanne said...

Good morning Rachel, I dearly loved your post today. A little peek into the beautiful bride Elect's life in the South. Small town news is just the best. Where everyone knows each other and everyone delights knowing all the goings on in their town. It is a fine thing when life was in a setting where bits of gossip and news of weddings were such a delight. How life has changed and not so much for the better. I am definitely a small town person who delights in this kind of living. My most precious memories are of my youth living on a dairy farm in the country and walking 2 miles to school each day.
Country folk who lived a simpler life back then. You sent me back there today.
Love, Jeanne

Denise :) said...

Gracious, the lace was beautiful. But the petit fours were scrumptious looking!! Your posts are always pretty and enlightening! Happy weekend! :)

Patsy said...

That was a fun post to read and I love petit fours.

Nann from At Nann's Table said...

Hi Rachel....My husband comes from a small town too and they also had a little newspaper like that. It always had every detail too and was also fun to read.

The lace is beautiful but I agree those petit fours are to die for. I could use on right now. (smile)

Enjoyed your post. Thanks for the comment on my Cinco de Mayo luncheon. I love to have you drop by so please do come again.


Wsprsweetly Of Cottages said...

Well, Ms. Ignorant here..never heard of a lot of things you wrote about but enjoyed every single moment of learning! You bet!
I never had a wedding, no honeymoons, but daughters did. At least three of them..and one of my sons had church weddings..and still never heard of a "bride elect".. just goes to show you.
Had I not read this...I just may have gone the rest of my life in ignorance.
Wish we had a small town paper, in a way! Our paper is...pathetic! I try and read it anyway..just in case. :)
Thank you, as always, for your very dear comment on my post!!
I will always end my comments with,

Beverly said...

Rachel, dear Rachel. Oh, how you have made me smile.

I didn't grow up in a small town, and we didn't have these wonderful shares in our newspaper.

How surprised I was to read my wedding announcement in the local newspaper of the small town in which I was born, but moved away from when I was two. The whole thing sounded quite wonderful.♥

Kim Shook said...

As a former "Bridal Consultant", I loved this post! I remember having to write up a full description of dresses for my brides. Sometimes they were just to tuck into their keepsake albums, but if they or their groom was from a small town with a local paper, I would end up in PRINT!!! Girls who had never even known that different lace had names suddenly became wanna-be experts and asked me what was 'the best'!