December 19, 2016

{A Woman's Radiance}

For this 18th century wedding set in the Scottish Highlands, the costume designer wanted Claire—the bride and heroine of the Outlander series—to literally glow. “I wanted a dress that would be incredible in candlelight,” Terry Dresbach shared. This wedding—and forthcoming marriage and relationship of Claire Randall and Jamie Fraser—was the foundation of the immensely popular Outlander books and subsequent television series, therefore the direction from the show’s creator (and Terry’s husband) was that “this moment needed to be a fairy tale.”

“In the 18th century, metallic fabrics were made with actual metal woven into the fabrics,” explained Terry in Variety magazine. “When you put [the original costumes] in a room filled with candles, they just glow. They’re quite remarkable.” By incorporating delicate shavings of iridescent mica as well as an old, time-consuming embroidery technique using metal strands, Terry was able to be true to the spirit of the era while also creating something stunning and shimmering for Claires reluctant wedding ceremony.

Of course as a fashion historian and wedding folklorist, I loved reading about the creative process of designing this gown. But I also write about the bride’s rite-of-passage, her personal inner journey, and her deep desire to be as beautiful as possible on her wedding day! In my 30 or so years working with brides, I find this desire for beauty a universal expression of the feminine spirit, tapping into a womans true goddess nature, her radiance.

Reading about the Outlander’s costume designer’s wish for Claire and her gown to glow, I thought of Regena Thomashauer, best-selling author and founder of the School of Womanly Arts in New York City. The heart of Regena’s work encourages women to find and express their true desires, their self-love, their inner and outer goddess, their glow. “Glow creates beauty in women of all ages, all body types, all backgrounds.” And when you glow, you not only want to dress to show it off, but you just naturally attract and inspire what’s beautiful in others.

Is that the reason women are so attracted to the fairy-tale quality of “being a bride”? The masculine power grid of modern culture doesn’t really encourage the rich, deep, loving expression of feminine values, so a woman’s wedding becomes a rather rare opportunity for her to glow; a time for full-tilt-boogie radiance! But I would encourage all women, every dayno matter where you are in your lifeto open your heart, to shine your inner light, to choose radiance!
Claire and Jamie's candlelit wedding in Outlander
(All images from designer Terry Dresbach's blog)

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! □


September 16, 2016

{The un-Fashion of Weddings}


When I worked at Vogue in the 1970s, you would have never seen a headline in the magazine like these that I’ve recently read online at Vogue Daily: “Dream Wedding Inspiration” or “The 41 Most Memorable Model Weddings” or “How To Surprise Your Groom on the Wedding Day” or “Is It Ever Okay to Tell A Bride You Don’t Like Her Dress?” or any number of Vogue’s image-rich reports of beautiful weddings and their fanciful designer gowns. Weddings were simply not fashionable news in the 1970s! (And if you’ve read my latest book, The End of the Fairy-Tale Bride, you’ll know why—plus learn lots of fascinating bits of bridal history!)

However, since the 1980s (since Lady Diana Spencer’s royal nuptials as well as Martha Stewart’s reinvention of entertaining) weddings have been back in the news—fashion, society, even business news! And the trend is even more ubiquitous today. Perhaps it’s part of our modern “media culture” and its penchant for broadcasting all things personal: our ‘need’ to be seen, to be known, to be in the spotlight—our selfie-ness.

If you’ve been involved in planning a wedding in the last three decades or so, then you’ve been part of this “fashion”—designer gowns, designer cakes, designer favors. Nonetheless, ‘tis important to remember that weddings are about relationships. So in an attempt to be “fashionable,” let’s not forget the things that never go out of fashion! Like kindness. As the Persian poet Rumi shared long ago: “Your acts of kindness are iridescent wings.” (Très chic!) ~

[Photograph courtesy of Vogue Daily]

August 14, 2016

{The Promise of Wedding Vows}


My article, “The Promise of Wedding Vows”—highlighting the 35th anniversary of the momentous wedding of Princess Diana—was just published on Huffington PostThis royal event not only changed the culture of weddings worldwide, but also came at the time when the world of women was in a great consciousness shift. 
Plus, the article is an excerpt from my latest book, The End of the Fairy-Tale Bride {Volume One} For Better or Worse, How Princess Diana Rescued the Great White Wedding.

Enjoy! Here’s the link.

July 27, 2016

{Heart-Centered}


Dear Bride-to-Be
“To be ‘on edge,’ you are literally not centered—not being in your spiritual center,” poet Carrie Latet once said. Planning a wedding can be one of the most “on edge” times. With all the commercial hype, canned traditions, and tantalizing nonsense out there, it’s an extra daunting time for the bride and/or the mother of one doing the planning.

What are you doing to stay centered in your heart, grounded in your love during this busy time—a time that’s also very pivotal in deepening your relationship? I’ve often said that when a woman becomes a bride her intuition is heightened, her insights sharpened—IF she stays heart-centered! And there’s the rub. We must be willing to have a still mind—or at least moments devoted to inner and outer quietness and stillness—otherwise we can’t “hear” our intuitive signals, those angelic whisperings and soulful nudges that keep us centered right where we lovingly want to be!

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


ps: This is an excerpt from my book, The End of the Fairy-Tale Bride: For Better or Worse, How Princess Diana Rescued the Great White Wedding. Available on Amazon.

[Photo courtesy of Vogue Daily]

July 1, 2016

{A Dress Reimagined}


In celebrating the current Vanderbilt family wedding exhibition at the Legacy museum on Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina, I’ve written several articles about the treasures on display. One is the recreation of Cornelia Vanderbilt Cecil’s 1924 wedding gown and veiling by Cosprop Ltd. London (of Downton Abbey fame!)

Here’s another version of that fascinating story just published in the summer issue of Season magazine….and I’ve reprinted it here for you to enjoy. This one gives a bit of background about my former vintage bridal shop, its Downton Abbey connection, and my love of old lace. Would like to hear what you think!


A Dress Reimagined
by Cornelia Powell

Those of you who visited my former bridal art-to-wear shop in Atlanta in the 1980s and ‘90s would remember the lovely one-of-a-kind dresses made from vintage laces. The shop’s designers used found pieces of original materials: beadwork, laces, embroidery and remnants from beautiful old gowns that often became the starting point for a new dress, adding richness and gravitas that only “something old” could do. (“Elegant recycling” is how one of my designers described the process.) 

Downton Abbey’s designers relied on similar techniques for many of their costumes including 1920s-era wedding dresses for the Crawley sisters. (Something you already knew if you’ve attended one of my costume talks!) Designer Caroline McCall combined vintage lace panels with new silks to make the column-shaped bridal dress for Mary’s first wedding; then an antique hand-beaded satin train she’d found became the design inspiration for Edith’s dress for her “almost wedding” in season three. In the show’s romantic finale, designer Anna Robbins used a collage of vintage Brussels laces to create Edith’s “happy ending” bridal gown.

What if the lost wedding dress of a famous heiress needed such superb designer attention? Cornelia Vanderbilt married on her family’s grand Biltmore estate in 1924, but years later her satin wedding pumps—aged to a creamy patina and still trimmed with sprigs of fabric orange blossoms—were all that remained of her costume. So, with an exhibition in mind, Biltmore commissioned legendary costumier John Bright at Cosprop, Ltd. London—of Downton Abbey fame—to recreate Cornelia’s lace and silk wedding ensemble.

Once Leslie Klingner, Curator of Interpretation, and her team at Biltmore gathered archival photographs and newspaper clippings with descriptions of Cornelia’s dress (details of her wedding had filled society columns worldwide), the transatlantic “reimagining” project was on! After a year of planning, conference calls, lace and fabric samples going back and forth between London and Asheville, NC—plus seven weeks of cutting and sewing by a team of five—Cornelia’s dress and veil were, indeed, beautifully reimagined.

Cornelia Vanderbilt Cecil’s original gown was the stylish “tabard” fashion of the 1920s: a lace tunic over a silk slipper-satin, long-sleeve sheath (a design that influenced the gown for Downton’s Lady Mary.) From the photographs, the lace of Cornelia’s gown, with its distinctive floral pattern, appears to be an exquisite Duchesse; but fine lace yardage from that era is rare, so Cosprop cleverly repurposed an antique lace shawl and, although the pattern varied from the original, the proportions were perfect! Cosprop also recreated Cornelia’s lace headpiece and voluminous veiling—which had included her maternal grandmother’s rose point heirloom veil—by appliquéing hand-cut vintage lace motifs onto yards and yards of custom-dyed tulle.

Cornelia’s recreated wedding ensemble is now on display at Biltmore’s Legacy Museum. To me it’s a lovely reminder how, in the hands of inspired designers, bits of vintage laces and trims can be “reimagined” to enchant us still. ~

[Top and bottom three images courtesy of The Biltmore Company]

June 14, 2016

{Reimagining A Legend}


Cornelia Vanderbilt at home, Biltmore House. April 1924
 [Courtesy of The Biltmore Company] 
Enjoy my article “Reimagining A Legend” published in the Huffington Post! It shares a bit of background how Cosprop Ltd. London recreated Biltmore heiress Cornelia Vanderbilt’s circa 1924 wedding ensemble. (Now on display with other family wedding treasures at Legacy museum on the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC.)
Thanks for “liking” and sharing my HuffPost article!

May 10, 2016

{A Mother's Rite-of-Passage}


Dear Bride-to-Be:
In my 30 or so years working with brides and their families while planning a wedding, I have been around many mother-daughter relationships. And if I was ever asked for a bit of coaching by the bride, I may have said something like: “Remember, your wedding is also a rite-of-passage—a time of deep personal change—for your mother as well as for you.” And if the mother asked for a bit of advice, perhaps I’d say: “Remember, your daughter is a grown-up now; it’s time to listen and be a friend.”

I write a lot about this relationship, dedicating a chapter to mothers and daughters in my book The End of the Fairy-Tale Bride, even quoting designers Vera Wang and the late Oscar de la Renta—who both dressed thousands of brides. This from Oscar: “The wedding is almost as important to the mother as it is to the bride.” And from Vera:

The most challenging relationship is often that of mother and daughter. A wedding can unleash torrents of emotion, and a bride must balance her own needs for control with her mother’s sense of involvement.

The theme running through this “mothers and daughters” chapter, however, is ‘being grateful’...opening with the Jean Baptiste Massieu quote: “Gratitude is the memory of the heart.”  So no matter how fraught with tension a situation or relationship becomes, take a deep breath, listen for that “still, small voice of gratitude” and open your heart.

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

ps: Read more about mothers and daughters and gratitude with your own copy of The End of the Fairy-Tale Bride {Volume One} For Better or Worse, How Princess Diana Rescued the Great White Wedding.

[Photo courtesy of BHLN]

April 16, 2016

{A Veil of Distinction}



Dear Bride-to-Be: 
I thought youd enjoy my article, “A Veil of Distinction,” just published in the spring issue of Season Magazine. Click here to read it online...and Ive reprinted it below as well.


A Veil of Distinction
Wedding veils hold an especially distinctive yet intimate place in a family’s collective memory. Even more than the wedding gown, the family bridal veil has, historically, been the treasure most often passed down and shared with daughters and granddaughters, nieces and cousins.

That was the case with a certain heirloom veil with a most captivating provenance. First worn by Margaret Merritt as an Edwardian bride when she married James Thomas Lee of New York City in 1903, her cathedral-length, rose point lace veil was also worn by her daughters Marion Lee Ryan, Janet Lee Bouvier and Winifred Lee D’Olier. But this veil developed a particular mystique when her granddaughter Jacqueline Bouvier wore it, along with Margaret’s delicate wreath of wax orange blossoms, for her marriage to Senator John F. Kennedy in 1953.

I became intrigued by this veil’s lineage when I learned it was to go on a first-ever display early this year as part of the wedding costume exhibitions on Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina. The veil’s connection with the Vanderbilt family is through Jackie Kennedy’s cousin, Mary Lee Ryan—“Mimi” wore it when she married George Vanderbilt’s grandson, William Amherst Cecil, in 1957.

Jackie’s only daughter Caroline Kennedy didn’t wear the Lee family veil, but both Mimi’s daughter and daughter-in-law wore it with their 1980’s Diana-era “princess gowns.” I find this is part of the beauty and pleasure of a bridal veil: as fashions change, it can be adapted to wear in various stylish ways; and even as women and their roles change, because of its strong feminine impulse, the bridal veil always carries a precious tradition.

Lace was immensely fashionable for Victorian and Edwardian ladies and, indeed, de rigueur for brides during these gilded decades. Following the creation of “rose point” lace in Brussels in the mid-19th century—a type of point de gaze needle lace so named because of its lyrical rose design, often with raised petals—this romantic pattern became a favorite of brides. Therefore when well-to-do American women made their grand transatlantic voyages to Europe on the most majestic luxury liner of the day (it was simply the thing to do!), high on their must-do list was to bring back a lace veil from Belgium—all with dreams of a wedding in mind. (Is that how the lovely rose point veil worn by the Lee family brides—and then the Cecils of North Carolina—began its notable pedigree?)

Later when lace was not as popular and travel to Europe was aboard airplanes instead of ships, bringing home a lace wedding veil stayed dear to the hearts of many American women. Perhaps there is one stored away in your family’s “treasure chest”? ~

March 19, 2016

{Bridal Inspiration from Downton Abbey}


Dear Bride-to-Be:
The appealingly British Downton Abbey series has brought us some beautiful 1920s-inspired wedding dresses over the years! In season three, Lady Mary’s gossamer layers of ivory silk and vintage lace, delicately beaded, in a column-shaped design worn when she married Matthew Crawley; and Lady Edith’s slipper satin and silk chiffon asymmetrical confection with a Watteau-like back for her “almost wedding”—both gowns custom-made from old and new materials by costume designer Caroline McCall.

In season five, Lady Rose’s fabulous sweep of a vintage gown in silk tulle with dainty gold sequins and a circular train was only glimpsed for a moment on screen, but worth a relook! (The show’s costume designer at that time, Anna Mary Scott Robbins, found the original, perfectly-preserved gown at an antique fair.)

Then in the romantic final season six, Mary remarries in an ivory two-piece suit—made of a crisp silk and bamboo fabric—with a knife-pleated skirt and lovely hand-worked original trim shaped into a sharp-V design. (Plus a fetching, brimmed hat with real 'preserved' butterflies on the vintage baling as the designer gives a nod to the bride’s new beginnings!)

And, of course, the sweet finale with Edith becoming a Marchioness—and happy! Costume designer Anna Robbins created a graceful, custom wedding dress with lovely layers of antique Brussels lace—ankle length with a small swish of a train and lots of lacy veiling. (Did you notice that Edith wore a diamond tiara for the wedding ceremony and a vintage pearl-beaded headdress with a jaunty tassel for the reception?)

Perhaps these 1920s fashions have such appeal to us now because this was the era of the budding “modern woman”—smart and sassy, romantic and bold.

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

ps: A few seats remaining for my "Tea & Flowers & Costumes" fete at the Biltmore Estate in North Carolina in April....come hear more 1920s design inspirations of those Downton bridal costumes!

February 27, 2016

{Fashionable Romance}


Dear Bride-to-Be
Who doesn’t love to hear stories of wedding pageantry and descriptions of the bride’s distinctive costume? The wedding gown is designed as a dress of “wish fulfillment,” wrote costume historian Eleanor Thompson, “materializing the hopes and fantasies of a bride.”

Perhaps that’s why people are flocking to the new exhibition, “Fashionable Romance: Wedding Gowns from Film,” opened this month at the legendary Biltmore House in Asheville, North Carolina. The costumes on display are from some of our favorite period films and television series…several based on Jane Austen and George Eliot novels, other gowns designed for royal brides from the past.

Whatever you are wearing on your wedding day—whether something inspired by a romantic film or a lovingly restored gown worn by your grandmother—you may feel like a “movie star” or even a princess. However, remember to include your warm heart and loving embrace to share the intimacy of your special day!

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

ps: Come join me for “Tea & Flowers & Costumes” Special Fête this April at Biltmore during their beautiful wedding costume exhibition! Click here for your invitation and more information.

[Images: Left, EMMA, ©1996 Courtesy of Miramax and, right, courtesy of Biltmore Company]

  


February 14, 2016

{Odes to Love}



Dear Bride-to-Be: 
In celebration of the season of love, I thought I'd share some of my favorite quotes on the subject!

We can only learn to love by loving. 
~Iris Murdoch

Do all things with love. 
~Og Mandino 

Listen to your heart above all other voices. 
~Marta Dante 

Gratitude is what returns us to love.
~Lisa Clapier

 Love is, above all, the gift of oneself.
~Jean Anouilh

…only love is real. 
~Marianne Williamson 

If we really want to love, we must learn how to forgive. 
~Mother Teresa

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

Photograph: Courtesy of Vogue

January 26, 2016

{Handkerchief-Inspired Wedding Cakes & More!}


Dear Bride-to-Be:  I've made no secret that I love handkerchiefsespecially white, delicately-embroidered vintage ones...and those with a beautifully-stitched, scrolling monogram, well, even better! My former bridal art-to-wear shop in Atlanta was famous for having a fetching selection of vintage handkerchiefs; they're still my favorite personal gift for a bride; one of my Pinterest boards is dedicated to them; and I often write about the charms and indispensability of handkerchiefs in my books and articles! (There is even a three-part series featuring hankies on this blog.)

So of course I was delighted to see this from Martha Stewart: "Wedding Cakes Inspired by Heirloom Handkerchiefs." Each cake design has an heirloom elegance as feminine as the real thing! See Martha's array of delicious-looking cakesshe calls them "sew sweet!"  

Whatever type of cake you choose for your wedding celebration (from old-fashioned motifs to sleekly modern), always choose to have a pretty hanky on hand for happy tearsyours or his or hers!

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

ps: My first book, The Bride's Ritual Guide: Look Inside to Find Yourselfthe perfect gift for every bridehas at least three stories dedicated to handkerchiefs...including why you should not go down the aisle without one! 

[Top image courtesy of Augusta Auctions; cake image courtesy of Martha Stewart Weddings]

January 2, 2016

{Victoria's Choice}

Dear Bride-to-Be: 
I thought youd enjoy my article, “Victorias Choice,” just published in the winter issue of Season Magazine. Click here to read it from the online magazine...and Ive reprinted it below as well. ’Tis an excerpt from my new book The End of the Fairy-Tale Bride {Volume One} 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 {Volume One} For Better or Worse, How Princess Diana Rescued the Great White Wedding....easy to order from Amazon with a speedy delivery!]