December 8, 2016

{The Crown}


I've just finished watching Season One of "The Crown"—Netflix’ wonderfully royal, big-budget series chronicling the life of Princess, then Queen, Elizabeth. Created and written by the extraordinary Peter Morgan—who knows his way around clever royal dialogue and hidden emotions—the production designs are rich, the acting is superb and the costumes—by the marvelous Michele Clapton (of Game of Thrones fame!)—are beautiful!

One of the famous gowns the costume designer recreates for the first episode of “The Crown” is Princess Elizabeth’s 1947 wedding gown by couturier Norman Hartnell. I write about it in my book The End of the Fairy-Tale Bride: For Better or Worse, How Princess Diana Rescued the Great White Wedding….here’s one book excerpt I thought youd enjoy:

Although a wet and dreary November day, Princess Elizabeth’s wedding in 1947 was a shining break from the austerity of the grim post-war years. Her ivory silk satin gown was glamorous, opulent and symbolic. The silkworms used to make the silks both in Scotland and England were brought from Nationalist China instead of “enemy silkworms” from Japan or Italy. Designer Norman Hartnell was said to have been inspired by Primavera, Botticelli’s fifteenth-century painting; he had the gown and long silk tulle court train intricately hand embroidered with thousands of tiny crystals and seed pearls in garland designs of jasmine, smilax, lilac, and York rose blossoms. Since Great Britain was still in recovery from World War II, and since even the future queen needed ration coupons for her wedding gown’s fabric, women from all over the country sent their coupons for their much-loved Princess to use. They were politely, and with messages of deep gratitude, returned by the Palace.
 .......................................................

(Order your own copy of The End of the Fairy-Tale Bride and read more about glorious royal wedding gowns!)

November 14, 2016

{Who's Inside the Dress?}



Dear Bride-to-Be: 
While the royal wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer was being planned and arrangements organized, much of Diana’s attention—like for many brides before and since, royal and otherwise—went to the dress

In my wedding articles and books, I ask often brides: What image do you want to remain in the imagination of your guests? It’s not the vision of a lovely woman in a beautiful gown that really inspires. What remains unforgettable and inspiring is when that image is infused with the beauty of an open heart. (Plus, an open heart is the doorway to intimacy!)

Being included in the intimacy of the day is the real gift people take home and feel when they later think about the bride. Perhaps that’s what makes some wedding dresses themselves so memorable: They were chosen with that same open-hearted, soft-focus attention of love.

Be beautiful! Keep your heart openlove and beauty always follow.

Love. Listen. Let go.
....love from Cornelia

[Excerpt from The End of the Fairy-Tale Bride: For Better or Worse, How Princess Diana Rescued the Great White Wedding.]

October 22, 2016

{Victoria's Choice Redux}

Hello! I thought youd enjoy a reprint of my article, “Victorias Choice”....its been published in Season Magazine and on Huffington Post. (Plus its an excerpt from my latest book The End of the Fairy-Tale Bride: For Better or Worse, How Princess Diana Rescued the Great White Wedding.)

VICTORIA'S CHOICE
If you know one thing about wedding gown history, I would wager that it has something to do with Queen Victoria beginning the fashion for brides wearing white. (And now, thanks to her, it has been a tradition of sorts for 175 years.) But I would also wager that most people don’t know the real reason the 20-year-old monarch broke the precedent set by earlier royal brides—“dressed in their usual cloths of silver or gold”—and chose the color white for her wedding gown. Victoria even chose a crown of fanciful, yet wax orange blossoms instead of one of her dazzling diamond diadems!

Her choices have been regarded as representing simplicity, modesty and purity—and indeed the young queen was sentimental with an “uncluttered fashion preference,” according to costume historian Kay Staniland. However, Victoria was deeply in love, and this became her guiding inspiration for her wedding attire. Therefore, with much consideration—taking into account her duty, her position and her subjects—“the queen decided to make her marriage vows to her ‘precious Angel’ as his future wife rather than as the monarch,” wrote V & A museum curator Edwina Ehrman. So Victoria not only opted against wearing the ornate silver and gold of royalty, but also her regal “crimson velvet robe of state” feeling “it would only emphasize her seniority, and overshadow the role of her future husband,” Staniland added.

Victoria’s all-white bridal costume may have been without the usual glittering royal accoutrements, but it “was actually exquisite and of great value,” explained Maria McBride-Mellinger, author of The Wedding Dress. Underscoring “patriotic spending,” the queen commissioned her country’s renowned textile artisans. The rich silk satin for the gown and its 18-foot court train was woven in Spitalfields and the beautiful, lyrically-patterned lace for her veil and gown embellishments was hand made by two hundred women in a Devon village employed for eight months. The only color Victoria wore was near her heart: a large, brilliant blue sapphire brooch which had been Prince Albert’s wedding gift to her.

On the day of the wedding, Victoria’s adoring subjects happily received their queen’s choices, cheering her carriage on its way to the Chapel Royal at St. James’s Palace. Dressed in these creamy shades of white and tufts of orange blossom, I doubt that Victoria had a sense of the remarkably romantic lineage she was about to inaugurate. Nor could she ever know that her queenly exemplar: “Keep your relationship top priority,” would make fine advice for today’s busy wedding-planning brides. 

It seems for this young bride (who just happened to be ruler of an empire), that it came down to choosing the feelings of her future husband over her own ego. Victoria’s heart-centered choice changed bridal history and, in turn, illuminated the supreme sovereignty of a woman in love. ~


[Enjoy your own copy of The End of the Fairy-Tale Bride: For Better or Worse, How Princess Diana Rescued the Great White Wedding....easy to order from Amazon with a speedy delivery!] 

September 28, 2016

{Wedding Vows}


My article “Wedding Vows” just published in the fall issue of SEASON magazine! It shares how Princess Diana’s wedding in 1981 signaled changes in the world of weddings, including the promises a couple makes during their ceremony. (‘Tis based on excerpts from my book, The End of the Fairy-Tale Bride: For Better or Worse, How Princess Diana Rescued the Great White Wedding.) Enjoy!


Wedding Vows


 The bride’s entrance into the majesty of St. Paul’s was announced by a fanfare from trumpeters high inside the cathedral’s celebrated dome. Perhaps they were not only announcing a princess bride, but prophetically heralding in, for better or worse, a new era! Thirty-five years ago Lady Diana Spencer’s charismatic appeal as a bride, combined with the grand splendor of the British monarchy, resurrected the “great white wedding”—helped along with society’s need for order and tradition, a little Reaganomics, plus a dash of glam and glitter!

Or as author Maria McBride-Mellinger described changes following the royal wedding in 1981:  “After a decade of swinging singles and disco infernos, suddenly everyone wanted to be married and every bride wanted a gown fit for a queen: regal and ornate, with a lengthy train, and a jeweled veil. The big white wedding was back in style and no expense seemed too great.”Signaling another change of the times, the bride and groom made royal history that day with a break in tradition even before becoming husband and wife. Removing some outdated words from the Church of England’s 1662 version of the Book of Common Prayer, as the couple stood before the archbishop of Canterbury, and witnessed by nearly a million-fold television audience, the bride’s marriage vows did not include the promise “to obey.”
  
A London byline in The Washington Post a few days before the wedding reported that the archbishop of Canterbury revealed “the decision to drop this vow was made very quickly in his discussion of the service with Charles and Diana and that he told them, the usual clergyman’s joke. ‘It’s a bad thing to start your marriage off with a downright lie.’ He told reporters that many couples now omit the vow, which was a remnant from the Middle Ages, when a wife would pledge ‘to be bonny and buxom in bed and board.’”

I don’t doubt the archbishop’s knowledge of history regarding marriage vows including “to love, cherish and obey.” However, my understanding of the Latin meaning of the word “obey” as used in the old marriage text is “to hear, to deeply listen”—a promise that would be beneficial, even essential, to any marriage, no? If that’s the case, my only complaint with the original marriage vows is that the pledge “to obey” (i.e., “to listen”) was in the woman’s declaration but not in the man’s. Is the promise “to love and cherish” really possible without “deep listening”?

Some wedding “traditions”—royal or otherwise—are indeed outdated and need tossing aside; others are keepers in their own right. Then there are those traditions that simply need the wisdom of a woman’s touch! □