Diana shared something she wrote about her grandmother’s wedding dress:
My grandmother wore black at her wedding. She wanted to be different, to break rules, to stand her point, you might think.
I thought so too when I scrolled through the pictures in the family photo album. All the brides wore white, ivory or cream – except her.
Decades later I came to the explanation why she chose that colour: she married a widower.
When my grandfather’s first wife died in late spring of that year, she left 4 children behind, age 7 to 13.
My grandfather remarried in autumn. Doing this he broke a significant social rule of his time: After the death of a spouse a whole year of mourning period had to be formally fullfilled before remarriage.
My grandmother wore black at her wedding day because it was still the official mourning period for her husband. What she did was a kind of obeisance for his deceased wife. No act of rebellion, but one of modesty.
When you look at people’s actions, mere assumptions can lead to complete wrong conclusions concerning people’s reasons and motives. You always need background information, about the culture, the society, the setting in which people grew up, to understand their values and their deeds.
A few days ago, she also shared this with me:
Another, more personal memory of my family’s remarkable “black dress” I wrote about the impression the picture of my grandma in her wedding dress made on me:
I first saw that picture when I was a four or five year old child. I remember very well my astonishment: Brides always wear white gowns (and there were many brides in the family album, dressed in perfect white), so why did she wear black? Since I could remember I felt like a kind of stranger in my family; as if I didn’t belong, the ugly duckling. I stared so many times at the wedding picture of my grandmother and imagined my own marriage to-be also in black. For the little granddaughter the black wedding dress was full of symbolism, in equal measure a symbol for the commitment to one’s own individuality (to wear black when one should wear white) and for the possibility to live a ‘normal’ life even as a stranger (to belong, to be married).
Through my adulthood I occasionally wore and wear the famous ‘little black dress’. Although some of these dresses were really gorgeous, they are long forgotten. I never married, so none of my black dresses could have been as magical as the black dress my grandmother wore as a wedding gown.
Thanks for sharing, Diana!