The Ladies' Home Journal
XXII:4 (March 1905), p32.
IT IS a bride's pleasant privilege to feel herself the object of the interest, affection and kindly feeling of all who constitute her little world. Her gifts are tangible evidences that she has warm friends whose offerings endear them, and whose generosity surprises and delights her. An especial pleasure attaches to those which she owes to the friends of the bridegroom, as proof of the esteem in which he is held. Her first duty is to make a prompt and cordial recognition of every present that she receives. These notes should be written on paper, not cards, slid with every elegance of form and material. Sometimes a little embarrassment is felt at writing to thank a stranger, but the kindness on the part of one unknown should stimulate, not stifle, the enthusiastic expression of appreciation. Mention should be made of the especial gift that calls forth the thanks, lest it may be suspected that the note is a mere duplicate of others. It is also customary to associate the thanks of the bridegroom-elect with those of the bride. For example:
Dear Mr. and Mrs. Adams:
Please accept my most sincere and delighted thanks for the beautiful clock that you were so good as to send us. Mr. --- is no less appreciative than I of its beauty and your kindness. I hope that we may see you at our wedding, and tell you in person how much pleasure you have given us.
Yours most gratefully,
THE aim should be to send thanks for every gift within twenty-four hours of its receipt; and the wedding day should see all such indebtedness acknowledged.
Sometimes the gifts are so numerous, and the bride has so many other claims upon her time and attention, that such punctilious courtesy is impossible. In that case some member of the family or the maid of honor may send a few lines in acknowledgment, to say that the bride was delighted with the gift and will write to express her thanks and appreciation at her earliest opportunity.
IT IS almost inevitable that there should be duplicates, and gifts that one's own taste would not have selected. The utilitarian spirit of our age is sadly at variance with sentiment and even courtesy. Many brides do not hesitate to exchange the things which have failed to please for those that they prefer. Gifts from total strangers, "duty presents," those which are felt to have been perfunctory, may perhaps be considered to fall under a "special dispensation" when exchanged for things that are really valued, but it seems treason to friendship to treat thus its offerings, doubtless chosen with painstaking care to please.
AT FIRST each gift is gratefully connected in one's mind with the giver -- but when they follow in rapid succession it occasionally happens that memory plays strange tricks.
Some embarrassing lapses may be avoided if each gift as it arrives is noted in a blankbook with the value of the giver opposite a number -- a duplicate number being pasted in some inconspicuous place on the article itself. Little books are published for the purpose with sheets of numbers like postage stamps.
Thoughtfulness for those upon whom the duty will devolve of repacking the presents should insure the careful preservation of the boxes, and within them of the wrappingpaper and string, as well as the Canton flannel bags for the silver, paper shavings, etc., with a tag or card bearing the name of the article and its donor.
IT IS a matter for individual taste and election whether or not the presents shall be displayed. When to do so was the universal custom, love of ostentation tempted some to hire articles to be shown among the bona-fide offerings. This led to the swinging of the pendulum to the other extreme, and many brides did not show their gifts at all. The present custom seems the best solution of the question.
The more intimate friends of the family, together with all who have sent gifts, receive a note from the bride or her mother, or a line on a visiting-card, inviting them to come on a certain afternoon, two or three days before the wedding, and see the presents. They are attractively displayed on tables covered with white damask cloths, set around a room from which all other furniture has been removed. A few flowers in vases here and there sometimes give an added grace, and every article is placed to its best advantage --especially the simple ones, to give assurance to their donors of the bride's appreciation. Should there be only enough gifts to cover one table the rest of the room should be arranged to look homelike and inviting, and the tea should be served there.
THE cards of the givers may accompany the presents or not as one pleases. Many think it in better taste not to have them in evidence, and to let the bride herself -- or if the invitation has been in her mother's name, and she is not present, then her sisters or intimate friend -- call attention to the generosity or taste of the givers of certain things, mentioning them by name.
If the marriage is at a country home, and guests from a distance are expected, the presents are usually shown at the wedding.
PRESENTS may be sent to the bride-elect within three or four weeks of the wedding day, but the receipt of the invitation is the signal for their more general offering. Those who are not well acquainted with bride or bridegroom await the invitation, lest their gift should appear to force such an attention. It is the custom to send the gifts by messenger, or preferably to have them forwarded direct front the shop where they are purchased to the bride's home, accompanied with a visiting-card bearing some brief expression of good wishes, or not, as one pleases. Only relatives or close friends may offer their gifts in person.
When wedding gifts are marked the initials of the bride's maiden name should be used. It sets them apart as her wedding outfit, always thereafter cherished with especial interest. A belated gift, sent after the wedding day, should be marked with her married name.
THE bridegroom's offering is usually something for the bride's personal and exclusive use, which will not be affected by wear or time. Jewelry best fulfills these conditions. He may not offer her wearing apparel, however valuable, according to traditional convention. The bride does not always make a gift to the bridegroom. When she does sentiment suggests some personal gift. It is regarded as complimentary to the bridegroom for his friends to send their gifts to the bride. Anything intended for him personally is, of course, sent to his address.
ALL who are invited to the wedding are not expected to send presents. A bride with any delicacy of feeling would deprecate perfunctory gifts; but it is a time when friendship acknowledges its claims more than at any other, and even a trifling remembrance establishes one's title to be considered among those who have a real interest in the bridal pair. Casual acquaintances frequently send only flowers -- a large bunch of violets, or a box of long-stemmed roses -- on the day of the wedding. Those who receive invitations to the church ceremony only, or mere announcements, are under no obligation to send anything.
THOSE who are in mourning, or who are traveling abroad, or persons living at a distance, should not plead these circumstances as excuses for not sending some trifling souvenir. These facts will but insure a more cordial and appreciative welcome for a small token of remembrance. There are many persons who would be glad to make a little gift, but who hesitate lest it seem too insignificant. To meet this difficulty friends may sometimes "club together" and get something really desirable -- a set of books, perhaps, or silver articles for a desk -- penholder, stamp-box, paper-cutter, calendar, letter-weight, pen extractor, mucilage bottle -- that, matching or harmonizing, make a complete set. Or, clips and saucers for the afternoon tea-table may be chosen, varied in design, but alike in size and shape.
When sets of table damask are presented an added touch of daintiness is given by tying them up in sets with white satin ribbon. Anything for the little home of her dreams and visions usually pleases a bride. Sofapillows, a tea-table, etchings, books, a small portable lamp, furnishings for her dressingtable, a silver table bell, carving knives and forks, a cut-glass dish for flowers at table, are a few things that are likely to be welcome.
WHEN the object of our search is to get something that looks more costly than the price paid it usually falls short of giving the pleasure calculated upon, for in the commercial world things are appraised pretty accurately, and the reason for the low valuation may become apparent to the recipient upon longer acquaintance.
Thought of individual tastes, preferences and circumstances should guide the selection, and to gratify some known wish or need of a friend is a joy that, like mercy, "blesseth him that gives, and her that takes." One may often snatch suggestions from a chance remark. The bridesmaids may be taken into confidence, and from them suggestions may be had of what would best please the bride.
THOSE who can afford but small gifts should select simple things that, with some little grace of appearance, yet perfectly fulfill their purpose and will be in constant use, thus recalling the giver often pleasantly to mind -- the end and aim of a gift.
A box of carpenter's tools is a useful present to young householders, and one such I know fulfilled Charles Lamb's mot : "Presents endear absents." A chafing-dish may be the occasion of pleasant times --and things "not too bright or good for human nature's daily food" are often used with pleasure when those of rare elegance are sent to the limbo of the silversmith's for safekeeping and only seen on state occasions.
THOSE who are able to make costly gifts should bear in mind the probable environment of the young couple and choose things not so elegant as to put to shame their other belongings. A wise selection might be a piece of furniture, a dinner service, or sets of plates for fish, game or fruit, an Eastern rug, a handsome lamp or clock, or a good painting to be the gem of the house.
Some rich and generous relative might contribute a piano -- or a check for the wedding trip, or one to be used for special needs or wants, or laid aside as a provision for those of the future. Among persons of wealth a house is frequently the gift of the parents of the bride, and its furnishing provided by those of the bridegroom, or vice versa.
THE present fad is for articles in old silver -- pieces of which there are no duplicates; and English Sheffield is the only exception to the rule that has always obtained against giving plated ware for wedding presents. The old custom that prescribed a tiny gilt in sterling silver in preference to one more showy in plated ware originated in a good instinct for reality and genuineness in friendly offerings in preference to display; but like all rules it is open to exceptions and a plated serving tray or platter is usually a more welcome gift than many fancy spoons for which a use has often to be devised.
ARTICLES of one's own handiwork -- if really things of beauty -- are highly prized. They carry the assurance that the one for whom they were intended has been constantly in mind.
In a former article I told of a "Wedding Hook," and of a pretty white satin sheath embroidered with orange blossoms, into which a prayer-book was slipped from which the ceremony was read; and what woman ever had too many doilies and table centrepieces?
A pretty cardcase is easily made of white moiré, stiffened with buckram, and embroidered with a border and monogram of infinitesimal gilt spangles and pink coral beads introduced at intervals, or one of pearl-gray kid or moiré, with silver heads and spangles and mock turquoises.
One young woman made a charming two-leaved photograph-frame intended for the pictures of bride and bridegroom at the time of their marriage. For its fashioning she bought a remnant of old brocade, with which she covered the pasteboard frame; she then bound the edges with an antique gilt braid, and formed an arabesque pattern with tiny gilt spangles overlapping, which at the top of one panel formed themselves into the interlaced initials of the bride, and those of the bridegroom on the other. Mock stones -- turquoises, pearls, rubies and rhinestones -- were introduced among the spangles in the letters only. The effect was really exquisite and the cost not more than five dollars.
IT TAKES but little skill in water-colors to illustrate in monochrome, on the margin of the pages of some favorite volume, whatever is prominently mentioned in the text. One that I saw was "Shakespeare's EngIand," and the illustrations called for by the text were bits copied from photographs aided by a little artistic imagination. Some were painted across the printed words; the foreground of others was at the foot of the page, which gave a fine perspective when suggestions on the margin carried the eye to dim distances at the top. Another was Owen Meredith's "Lucile," with views of the Pyrenees, Ems and other scenes of the poem.
AMONG gifts that cost nothing in money was a calendar upon each page of which a good friend of the bride or member of her family had written some loving message, appropriate quotation or word of hope and cheer, to be carried on the wedding journey, that each day of her absence might bring her a greeting from some one who loved her. The cover offers a field for the play of taste and fancy. One that I saw had a copy in water-colors of a lovely Cupid by Bouguereau, holding a tablet whereon was the word "Godspeed."
Last revised: 16 September 2010