Accessorising vintage wedding dresses: Edwardian flower circlets.

Dear Reader

For each of my vintage wedding dresses, I love to picture the whole outfit and imagine what accessories will work best. Today on my vintage wedding blog, I’m writing about the current fashion for fresh flowers in the hair, and the origins of this lovely trend.

Model Evelyn Nesbit, photo 1903

Traditionally, a country bride wore a wreath made of local wildflowers. Depending on the season, she might include branches of leaves and wheat, wrapping them with twine to create a natural flower crown or circlet.

In contrast, wealthy and Royal brides typically wore tiaras. Until, in a break with tradition, Queen Victoria rejected the usual diamonds and chose a romantic orange blossom head-dress for her 1840 wedding.

Queen Victoria’s orange blossom bridal crown, 1840

Her husband Albert even commissioned a whole set of jewellery in the same style, as an anniversary gift. Victoria was thrilled and wrote in her journal,

“My beloved one gave me such an unexpected present, a wreath. It is entirely his own design and beautifully carried out. The leaves are of frosted gold, the orange blossoms of white porcelain and four little green enamel oranges are meant to represent our four children.”

Queen Victoria’s gold and porcelain ‘orange blossom’ jewellery

The custom of brides wearing orange blossom had originated in ancient China where this flower symbolised purity, chastity and innocence. Following the Crusades, the idea spread from the East slowly across Europe, becoming popular in England by the early 1800s. At one time, the phrase ‘to gather orange blossoms’ became synonymous with ‘to seek a wife’.

If orange blossom was not available, wax replicas were made in the form of tiny flowers and buds. These became very fashionable in Edwardian times and continued through the 1920s and 1930s.

1910 bride in delicate Edwardian flower circlet
1925 bride in floral crown

And these delicate wreaths have now been reinterpreted as contemporary ‘hair vines’. But many of the original antique ones are still very wearable, and are so beautiful.

This week I photographed two lovely models in original Edwardian wedding dresses. To complement the gowns, I twisted fresh foliage around an antique Edwardian circlet. The new leaves completely brought it to life – do check back next week to see the pictures.

Model Evelyn Nesbit, photo 1903

It’s surprisingly easy to add greenery to a headpiece. Many types of foliage last very well out of water. And if they are already flexible, they don’t need any special wiring. Ivy, for example, is lovely just twisted around an original circlet.

Model Evelyn Nesbit, photo 1903

I hope some of these wonderful original images have inspired you to think again about natural flower crowns and antique wax flower circlets.

Thanks so much for dropping by today. And please do check back next week to see my original Edwardian wedding dresses.



Heavenly Vintage Brides