Wedding Picture Question

Maria Schmidt William Doering Wedding
Maria Schmidt/William Doering Wedding

On this day, April 2, in 1870, my great aunt, Maria Schmidt was born.  I ran across this picture of her wedding with William Doering which was taken in 1898.  I have been told that white wedding dresses did not become fashionable until after 1900, so the dark dress in this photo is not unusual.  However, I find it puzzling that Maria would be wearing a dark dress with a white veil.  Does anyone know anything about this?  Have you seen any other wedding photos from that time period that show this?

Perhaps my friend, Walter Doering, Jr., the grandson of this couple, would have an answer.

3 thoughts on “Wedding Picture Question

  1. Do you know where this William Doering was born? My great-great grandfather’s name was William Doering. Born in Germany around 1858 and adopted. Little is known. I’m just wondering if there is a chance that’s him. Probably not but if so let me know.

  2. Hi Warren,

    The white wedding dress became popular, but far from universal, after 1840 when Queen Victoria wore a white gown overlaid with white lace to marry Prince Albert. However, the idea of a white wedding dress symbolizing the bride’s purity didn’t enter the public consciousness until the 1920’s. Prior to that, most women simply wore their best dresses for their weddings, regardless of the color. If she had a dress made for the event, many middle-class women chose a design that they could wear again.

    We have beautiful examples of late 19th Century wedding dresses in our collection that demonstrate how attuned these women were to the latest fashion trends, and the amazing colors produced from new dyeing technologies: They’re brown silk, peacock-blue velvet, and maroon brocade. I’ve even seen a dress from a woman who was the wife of a coal miner who got married in a black dress! She added brightly-colored buttons to make it more festive.

    I don’t see many veils, except in photographs, likely because they were made of such a delicate material. They often attached to a bonnet or headdress that could either match the dress or the veil. However, the flower coronets, like the one in the photograph, do survive because the orange blossoms that were popular at the time weren’t live flowers, but instead were made of wax.

    I hope that helped a little. That’s a beautiful photograph and quite a precious heirloom.

  3. A white veil and black dress appears to have been the style at the time. See the following sample of wedding portraits from my grandmother Martha (Cordes) Kirmse’s photograph album:

    Wilhelm “William” and Martha (Cordes) Kirmse – my grandmother

    Richard and Anna (Cordes) Fritsche – her sister

    Maria (Kirmse) and Clemens Doernhoefer – sister-in-law

    Katharina (Kirmse) and Emmanuel Hacker – sister-in-law

    Margaretha (Korte) and Mangels Steffens – cousin

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