Trousseau: A French Origin Wedding Tradition
What is a trousseau? A Bridal Trousseau, that is, the possessions, such as clothing and linens, that a bride assembles for her marriage. Create your own bridal trousseau today!
Dictionary.com defines Trousseau as
The possessions, such as clothing and linens, that a bride assembles for her marriage.
trous·seau, n. [French, from Old French, diminutive of trousse, bundle. See truss.]
Also known as: Trousseau, modern trousseau, bridal trousseau, what is a trousseau, trousseau collection, contents of renaissance bridal trousseau,
Traditionally, a young woman and her mother would start gathering items to prepare for her future married life.
The collection would be stored in a beautiful trunk or luggage.
Back in those days, things cost a lot more than they do today in proportion of what people earned.
For example, a bedspread may only cost a mere $35 then but average income per month back then was about $150!
People got married much younger in those days as well, making it harder to start a home./p>
Mothers would thus prepare for an easier transition for their daughters by slowly putting away perhaps an extra bedsheets set, blankets and some china they received as gifts - mostly what they could spare.
They start collecting and preparing their daughters' trousseau early, way before they've even met boys!
These collections could contain bridal accessories, jewelry, fine linens, cushions, china, silverware, pillows or quilts, toiletries, bath towels in addition to clothing and lingerie . They go with her to her new home when she gets married.
In Victorian times, the bride-to-be will lovingly collect a few sets of new clothes to see herself through her wedding, honeymoon and newlywed days. If she was from a wealthy family, her garments would be sewn by a professional seamstress. Most of the time, her mother or herself sews them.
They add beautiful touches like monograming her new initials on her new items.
There is also a tradition for the wealthy sorts of that day to "show" their daughter's trousseau.
A wealthy bride's family would host a "Trousseau tea" where friends would be invited to view her collection. The luxury items it may contain sometimes is shown as a sign of wealth.
(Though I'll never imagine I could do that...showing my possessions to others!)
Interested in French Table Manners?
Assembling Your Trousseau
I compiled a list of ideas sourced from a few old traditions and added a few ideas in too.
For most brides (depending on culture and family traditions) gifts for the home are given as wedding presents.
If you use a registry, it is like a modern day virtual trousseau.
You can have your own private trousseau to collect things that can't be bought but you want to take them with you to your new married life, such as family heirlooms, paintings etc.
Ideas for assembling your Trousseau
- Fine table linens: Napkins, place mats, preferably monogrammed.
- Fine China! Plates, bowls, cups, teapots.
- Fine Stationary: (It should be kept in a box) Thank you cards, blank cards for writing birthdays etc, a monogrammed stamp.
- Candles, drawer liners, decorative elements like soap dish sets etc that are currently too precious to use.
- One classic beautiful bedspread or bedsheets set.
- A self-assembled recipe book of family recipes!
- A couple of childhood books, toys that meant a lot to you. You might want to save for your children, even if its just to simply share a piece of your childhood.
- A very small box of childhood and family photos: A reminder of the family you grew up in.
- Beautiful silk pajamas, lingerie.
- A copy of A Well-Kept Home : Household Traditions and Simple Secrets from a French Grandmother
How Royalty prepared for their Trousseau...
Additional ideas for assembling your Victorian Trousseau (For the Society Woman)
One or two velvet dresses
Lace, lots of lace for embellishing
Day dresses & neligees
Ball gowns imported from Paris
Traveling dresses in black silk, in pongee, in pique,
Evening robes in Swiss muslin,
Robes in linen for the garden and croquet,
Dresses for horse races and yacht races,
Dresses for breakfast and for dinner,
Dresses for receptions and parties
References of "Trousseau" in Books
From the book "Madame Bovary":
"Mademoiselle Rouault was busy with her trousseau. Part of it was ordered from Rouen; her night-dresses and night-caps she made herself, from patterns lent her by friends."
From the book "The Trousseau,"
"We never put things out to be made. My husband's pay is not very ample, and we are not able to permit ourselves luxuries. So we have to make up everything ourselves." said the mother;
"But who will ever wear such a number of things? There are only two of you?"
"Oh... as though we were thinking of wearing them! They are not to be worn; they are for the trousseau!"
"Ah, maman,what are you saying?" said the daughter, and she crimsoned again. "Our visitor might suppose it was true. I don't intend to be married. Never!"
She said this, but at the very word "married" her eyes glowed.
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