What does a bride look like? A white dress, a veil and a bouquet of flowers, no? Well, brides did not always wear white. In fact, it is a fairly new custom that some claim has gained popularity because of Queen Victoria of England who wore white for her wedding day. Before that, as can be seen in the illustration of a bride from an 18th-century inscription, women used to wear extravagant clothes made of expensive fabrics. Those who could not afford them wore the best dress they had in their possession (or in the cassona*).
Have you heard of a bridal chair? On the day of her wedding, just before the Huppa, the bride sits on a special chair and waits for the groom to come and cover her face with the veil. While waiting, she receives her guests and greets them. A brides blessing on her wedding day is considered a virtue for finding a match and a wedding.
An illustration from a collection of engravings made in Germany, following a work by Bernard Picart, depicting the customs of the Jews in Venice of the early 18th century shows a bride sitting on the bride's chair.
By the end of the 19th century, just before the turn of the new century, white had became the dominant color for bridal wear. Much attention was given to even the smallest details, such as the bridal shoes ehich were white as well. The bridal shoes in the museum's collection were made in Florence and are made of silk that matched the fabric from which the dress was made.
The conservative fashion of the 19th century was replaced at the beginning of the 20th century by a much bolder style. The cuts became wider and straighter and the skirts were significantly shortened. The 1920s and 1930s are known as the "Jazz Age" and the fashion was light and short dresses called "flapper dresses". The wedding dress from the museum's collection was created in Paris at the height of the jazz era, in 1929. It is made of thin and delicate silk and is embroidered with arrow-shaped beads.
* A cassona is a large box used to store clothes, fabrics and other valuables. The cassona was also often used as a chest for the bride's dowry.
Bride and groom, except for address 0925
Ferrara, Italy, 1428 Tishrei 1728
Groom: Elisha Chaim Ben Moshe Her friends from Edomim
Bride: Rachel, daughter of Yaakov Menachem of Adumim
Handwriting, ink and tempera on parchment
Permanent loan of the Central Archive for the History of the Jewish People
Bride, except for print ON 0803
Wedding, from: "Customs of the Jews of Venice in the 18th Century"
Illustrations by Francesco Noble by Bernard Picart, engraved by Antonio Baratti.
Berlin, Charlottenburg, 1727
Carve on paper
Shoes for the bride
Florence, Italy, 1894
Manufacturer: S.M. Umberto I
Gift of Leona Viterbo, 2006
Beads and fabric decoration elements
Gift for Lionella Nefi Viterbo Modona