Thursday, February 18, 2010

Behind The Tradition: What is a Trousseau?

Your Great-Grandmother would know this one. A trousseau traditionally included the personal possessions – clothing and households goods – that a bride brought to her marriage. The word trousseau was derived from a French term meaning “bundle”. The trousseau was originally part of a dowry (the financial arrangement between the families of a betrothed couple) and is associated with a time when marriages were arranged and the bride ceded all her possessions to her husband. For obvious reasons, the concept is high on the endangered list in contemporary American culture.

Beyond her wedding dress, party clothes, and honeymoon outfits, today’s bride-to-be is unlikely to acquire a vast new wardrobe before her wedding. Items including linens, tableware, silver, and basic kitchen equipment, which comprised the household trousseau, are now purchased by the couple, acquired as gifts, or assembled when the couple merges their households.

One tradition that has survived is the hope chest – a good sized wooden, often cedar chest for storing linens and blankets. Although few mothers begin sewing and embroidering linens when their daughters are born, as they once did, and placing them in a hope chest in anticipation of a distant wedding date hope chests remain a popular gift from parents to their engaged daughters and, like handmade wedding quilts, are often passed from one generation to the next.

Excerpt from Wedding Etiquette, Emily Post

Fallon | Amanda | Sarabeth

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