The History Of White Wedding Dresses

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While wedding dress styles trends change from season to season, one thing has stayed relatively constant: White is easily the most widely-worn color for wedding gowns. In looking at white wedding dress history, you might be surprised to learn that white has not always been the color of choice for wedding dresses in Western culture, nor is it necessarily the symbol of purity commonly thought. In fact, white wedding dresses only came into fashion in the mid-19th century and became customary in the mid-20th century. Nowadays, 82 percent of U.S. brides wear white, according to the WeddingWire Newlywed Report—but how did this color become so popular?

The first brides wore wedding dresses in all colors.  

From Biblical times through the early 19th century, brides did not traditionally wear white. Not only was a white dress seen as impractical, it was not financially wise for brides to purchase a dress to wear only once. Therefore, most brides simply wore their fanciest dress on their wedding day. For brides in the lower classes, that often meant wearing a black dress. Brides with more means wore showier gowns in lush fabrics, featuring gold and silver embroidery, as well as fur. But these dresses could and would be worn again.

Queen Victoria started the white wedding dress trend.

In 1840, Queen Victoria married Prince Albert in one of the first heavily-photographed royal weddings of the time. She chose to wear a white dress in Honiton lace order to help the struggling factory where the fabric was created. She accessorized her white gown with a flower crown in lieu of a tiara to show that she would be a more down-to-earth monarch. Because this was one of the first “celebrity weddings,” the photos were shared around the world. Brides took note of Queen Victoria’s white gown, and thus began white wedding dress history as we know it.

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A white wedding dress became a status symbol.

After Queen Victoria’s wedding, wealthier brides started wearing grand white gowns, because they could afford to have their white attire professionally cleaned (brides would still wear their wedding dress long after the big day!). Some books at the time noted that white wedding dresses were ideal because they represented purity and innocence, but according to white wedding dress history, that wasn’t the case. White was seen as a color for the rich, more about showing off one’s wealth than one’s virginity.

White wedding dresses didn’t hit mass popularity until after World War II.

During the Great Depression and World War II, fancy fabrics were even harder to come by, so luxe white wedding dresses were replaced with simple suits in non-white hues. Some wedding dresses at the time were even made from re-purposed silk parachutes! After the war, white wedding dresses became more available, with tea-length looks inspired by Audrey Hepburn considered most fashionable. Long gowns were soon in style, and once Princess Diana walked down the aisle in her grand ivory silk taffeta and lace gown in 1981, the white wedding dress’ place in history was solidified.

To learn more check out https://www.weddingwire.com/wedding-ideas/white-wedding-dress-history

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Venue Spotlight: The Hyatt Regency

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Hyatt Regency off of Chestnut, is a timeless beautiful event venue that specializes in hosting an array of special celebrations, from weddings to corporate events. The Hyatt Regency offers a unique view of the arch with intimate settings under the stars.

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  •  St. Louis cuisine, sourced locally and served purposefully
  • Banquet Rooms under the stars with views of the Arch
  • 83,000 square feet of elegant space
  • Audio/ Visual Capabilities
  • Supported by PSAV technicians and experienced planners
  • Optimal site for corporate and charity events

For more information visit their website here

The Science of Champagne Flutes

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When the subject of champagne arises, it’s often accompanied by a debate on which glass best suits the sparking wine. However, the evolution of the champagne glass is much more complex and historically significant than a discussion of glass shape would at first imply. Here, our editors explore the history of the champagne glass, including the evolution of glass composition, the essential shapes that collectors and committed champagne aficionados seek out, and the affect that a glass has on the taste and experience of a sip of champagne.

Champagne and the Restoration

Champagne, though not quite as we know it today, first arrived in England with the exiled Norman, Chevalier de Saint-Évremond, in 1670 and rapidly assumed prime position as Charles II’s favorite libation.

Shortly after, in 1674, the invention of lead glass by George Ravenscroft changed the art of glassmaking forever. Ravenscroft’s discovery was only made possible by the higher temperatures maintained over longer periods achieved by coal- (as opposed to wood-) fired ovens. It would, of course, have important ramifications.

The Importance of Lead Glass

Lead glass paved the way for innovative new techniques. First, glassmakers could manipulate their material in its softened state for longer. This led to glass free from the trapped air bubbles so characteristic of earlier English, Bohemian and Murano glassware.

Second, artisans had more leeway: they could manipulate soft glass more freely, and they could now use cutting and etching techniques that would have shattered soda glass, the predecessor of lead glass. Another advantage was that lead glass could be made thin, yet remain strong: a useful characteristic for drinking glasses.

Of equal aesthetic value is the fact that the lead oxide content of the new glass made it more refractive than its soda-based counterpart. This refraction creates the sparkle that drove people to (incorrectly) refer to lead glass as crystal.

Perhaps the most important asset of the new lead glass was for champagne producers, as it allowed them to introduce the second fermentation in the same bottle; what’s known today as méthode champenoise or traditionelle.

The First Champagne Glasses

As with other contemporary fashions, champagne consumption soon filtered down from the court to the upper classes. Yet in the early days of champagne, there was no glass specifically made for its consumption. As it was an alcoholic carbonated drink, it was generally consumed from the same glasses as beer and cider. These had simple, short stems and round, funnel-shaped bowls.

Collection of Sixteen Period Wine Glasses, Sold via New Orleans Auction Galleries for $430 on July 28, 2012.

In the latter part of the Georgian period (1714–1837), around 1800, such glasses developed a knop halfway down the stem. Two decades later, more decorative elements were added to the bowls. Vessels for beer were sometimes etched with depictions of barley, while cider glasses featured apples. It is rare, though not unheard of, to find examples etched with vines, which would have held champagne.

Set of eight crystal engraved and gilded champagne glasses, offered on September 5, 2015 via Galartis.

It was not until after 1830 that the champagne glass arrived on the English scene, despite its popularity throughout the Regency period. The coupe (a shallow, broad-rimmed, stemmed vessel) was, as far as it is known, the first “official” such glass. It’s thought that the open bowl was favored precisely because it allowed the mousse (then considered vulgar) to disperse.

Glassware in Russia

French wines, and champagne in particular, were fashionable among the aristocracy of the 19th century. Indeed, Russia at the time was the world’s second largest consumer of champagne, and the Imperial Glass Factory produced a range of different champagne-specific glasses for the banqueting sets of the Imperial Court and its palaces outside St Petersburg.

Four Russian Imperial Glass Works Champagne Flutes from a Banquet Service, 19th century. Sold via Lyon & Turnbull for £1,300 on March 26, 2013.

Flutes, some in brilliant cobalt blue, were decorated with silver and gold floral motifs, and often with the crest or cipher of the relevant court personage. Darin Bloomquist, Head of Department for Russian Works of Art at Sotheby’s, notes that, “During the second half of the 19th century, artists at the Imperial Glassworks produced objects in a variety of historical styles, including neo-Gothic and a traditional, national Russian Style which rejected Western motifs. By the end of the century, the influence of Art Nouveau had been fully embraced by designers and craftsmen.”

As in Western Europe, the effects of Orientalism on the decorative arts were revealed in the interior furnishings of the upper classes. In 1862, the Factory introduced techniques that imitated the enamel colors and architectural motifs of the Mameluke dynasties of the late 12th and early 13th centuries.

The Late Victorian Era to the 1920s

One of the great myths about champagne (aside from that concerning the contribution of Marie Antoinette) is that the coupe was simply superseded by the flute. In truth, there has never been one dominant type of champagne glass.

As champagne consumption spread, so did the variety of glasses. In England, glassmaking was in demand among crystal manufacturers such as Edinburgh and Leith, and Thomas Webb & Sons (later Webb’s Crystal Glass Company Ltd.). Their owners would travel the world in search of both designs and customers.

Set of Ten Edwardian Cut-Glass Saucer Champagne Goblets, in “Strawberry-Diamond-and-Fan” decor, c. 1900, probably Thomas Webb and Sons or Stevens and Williams, offered via New Orleans Auction Galleries on January 24, 2003.

Webb’s Rock Crystal style, created by engravers William Fritsche and Frederick Kny around 1878, involved deeper engraving and polishing of the cut areas. These had previously been left rough in order to show off the distinction between surfaces. The Rock Crystal effect, by contrast, amplified the refractive nature of the glass.

Russian pattern (also called Cobweb) cut glass was in high demand among the American gentry at the end of the 19th century, perhaps due to the fact that the White House ordered two sets of the glassware, in 1885 and 1891, with later additions. The patent holder, Thomas Hawkes, arrived on the European stage after winning the Grand Prix at the Paris Universal Exposition of 1889 for his collection of T.G. Hawkes cut glassware.

Champagne glasses produced in the Edwardian period (1901–1910) continued to be quite delicate. Decoration was either finely engraved, with classical references (floral or Grecian patterns), or cut in stylized shapes (cross hatches and stars). Thomas Webb & Sons’ classic shape at this time was a slightly flared bowl, sometimes with cut feet.

Antique Art Deco Crystal Champagne Saucers, early 20th century, sold via Akiba Antiques for $90 on June 21, 2017.

The 1920s are seen today as the era of the champagne coupe or saucer. Yet, aside from a period of Art Deco influence on decorative motifs (1925–1930), there is no single dominant style. Rather, it was an era of experimentation, from heavy sets of Bohemian-style overlay (some weighing over 200g per glass) to Russian-pattern cut flutes.  

The Impact of Glass Shape on Taste

What effect do any of these styles and shapes have on the drinker’s appreciation of champagne? There are several (perhaps unexpected) factors to consider.

Baccarat Crystal 128-Piece Service, offered via M.S. Rau Antiques on June 24, 2017.

In terms of shape, while flutes tend to better retain mousse, a high-quality champagne will not lose its bubbles quickly. But it’s important to remember that, as with any good wine, aroma is an important element in the enjoyment of champagne. A wider bowl allows more aromas to escape from the wine’s surface, which gives the drinker a greater appreciation of the champagne’s complexity.

Tom Harrow, a Dom Perignon ambassador and Franciacorta’s U.K. ambassador, says that “Saucers are glorious, but impractical. And flutes are awful: you can’t swirl the wine, it slops everywhere.” Harrow himself prefers a tulip glass, but one that tapers dramatically so as to capture aromas.

“It really does depend on the style of the wine,” he explains. “Pinot Noir-dominated champagnes are pretty good in the Riedel Pinot Noir glass with a lip. Krug, on the other hand, tend to use quite big bowl glasses, but the wine is extremely rich and complex.”

The depth of the bowl where it joins the stem, not just its shape, also affects bubble retention. A deeper base creates one steady stream of bubbles, rather than the mass fizz created by rounder bases.

There is increasing evidence to show that the shape of a glass also affects the taste of its contents. In this case, the coupe may be a wise choice for sparkling wines without autolytic character. It helps to disperse the mousse and allows fruit flavors to reveal themselves quickly for instant gratification.

A Thomas Webb & Sons Copper-Wheel engraved “Rock Crystal” Glass Footed Ewer with Stopper, Stourbridge, England, circa 1885. Sold via Simpson Galleries for $550 on June 10, 2017.

However, for champagne collectors with a bottle of something as monolithic as the Bollinger R.D. 2002, Harrow suggests a champagne decanter. “It sounds odd to many people, but with a wine that needs plenty of time to open, something like the Billecart-Salmon champagne decanter makes sense.”

Finally, when washing glasses for champagne, always use dish soap for washing by hand. This ensures that residue will not affect the mousse.

Most Popular Wedding Cake Flavors

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1st Place: Vanilla

Surprised? A guaranteed crowd-pleaser, classic vanilla cake is a go-to option for many brides and grooms. The deliciously simple flavor works well with nearly any type of frosting and filling. But, according to Jennifer Toce, owner of Birchgrove Baking in Montpelier, Vermont, “We get quite a few requests for vanilla cake with vanilla buttercream. It’s a classic for a reason!”

2nd place: Chocolate

As a richer alternative to vanilla, chocolate cake, also reigns supreme at weddings. The indulgent dessert is often complemented with buttercream, caramel, or raspberry. In fact, Toce says that chocolate cake with raspberry mousse is easily their most requested delicacy. Variations of chocolate cake, including dark chocolate and German chocolate, also share the spotlight.

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3rd Place: Funfetti

Lisa Lundin, head baker and cake artist at Just Desserts Bakery and Cafe in Bridgewater, Massachusetts, says funfetti has drastically risen in popularity. The colorful cake is characterized by its abundance of sprinkles, which are mixed into the batter prior to baking. Betsy Thorleifson, owner of Nine Cakes in Brooklyn, New York, credits funfetti’s popularity to its inherent fun factor. “It’s truly fun and always brings out smiles!” she says.

4th place: Lemon

A zesty and tangy confection, lemon cake takes center stage at many warm-weather weddings, since the flavor comes across as tartly refreshing. Lemon cake goes well with lemon frosting, vanilla buttercream, raspberry filling, or fresh berries. What’s more, Lundin says it pairs nicely with mousse fillings.

5th place: Spice Cakes

Comforting and festive flavors are highly requested during the cold months. Nellie Metcalf, owner of Nellies Custom Cakes in Claycomo, Missouri, says she sees many orders for carrot and spice cakes during this time of year. Toce agrees, adding that her most popular flavor during the cold-weather months is cinnamon spice cake with maple buttercream.

Venue Spotlight: Old Hickory

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Find more stunning views at https://oldhickorygc.com/about-us/

Old Hickory on Dye Club Drive is a sophisticated and beautiful event venue that specializes in hosting an array of special celebrations, from weddings to corporate events. Old Hickory offers a unique country side view with stunning landscapes and sunsets.

  • Award winning executive chef preparing the finest hors d’ourves and spectacular entrees
  • Banquet Rooms overlooking our beautiful P.B. Dye signature golf course
  • 18-hole Championship Course designed by P.B. Dye
  • World class 15 acre practice facility
  • Flexible and attractive membership packages
  • Member events for friends and family
  • Optimal site for corporate and charity tournaments
  • Social Memberships

Find out more and contact their breath taking venue here!

Top 5 Transportation Companies in St. Louis

Coming in number one why wouldn’t you choose to make your wedding day extra memorable for you and your family with wedding transportation service from Platinum Transportation STL. They provide elegant and professional transportation on the most important day of your life along with bachelor/bachelorette parties, wine trip weekends, birthday parties, etc. Check out their fleet of luxury limo buses that will accommodate as few as 6 up to 44 passengers. Our party buses feature luxurious leather seating, LCD screens, CD/DVD players, lighted bar areas, fiber optics, and great stereo system. Rest assured their professional chauffeurs and staff are experienced and prepared to make your wedding day plans go perfectly. At Platinum Transportation STL, they offer an extensive selection of packages to accommodate every occasion.

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In second, All About You Limos is the home of the World’s Largest St Louis Party Bus, the massive OMG! In addition to the OMG, they have the next two largest limos buses in the world with the Serpent and Scorpion.  But they are much more than a party bus company. Our limo and bus fleet consists of stretch limos, stretch SUVs, stretch Hummers and the area’s largest selection of limo and party buses.  Our capacity ranges from a single to a group of 65.  All About You Limos is simply your best value in luxury transportation.

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In third, we have Saint Louis Carriage and Trolly! Take a magical tour through Laclede’s Landing or around beautiful downtown St. Louis with their very popular horse drawn Cinderella Carriage or you and your 5 best friends can get together for the larger Carriage to for a really magical ride!

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In fourth, JED Transportation is a respected name in limousine service and has built a reputation for outstanding customer service. Their focus on customer satisfaction has allowed them to build a strong base of repeat customers. At the heart of their service is a excellent staff of fully licensed uniformed professional chauffeurs with outstanding knowledge of the area. They pride themselves on their commitment to taking the time to assist all guests in selecting the right vehicle based on personal preference.

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In fifth we have St. Louis’s Best Transportation. From day one, their customers, team, and community have been the focus of the mission for their family of companies. The commitment to “Go the Extra Mile” has made them the largest full-service chauffeured transportation company in St. Louis and gained recognition as both a local and global transportation provider.

The History Of Wedding Planning

We have noticed that the role of the professional wedding planner has evolved over the years. As long as men and women have been getting married, there have been people to arrange all of the details and help plan the wedding day. Let’s look back at a brief history of weddings, which has brought Gold Leaf Event Design and Production where we are today!

1919- After WWI as formal weddings became more popular those without full-time social secretaries realized they needed help managing the caterer, the invitation printer, the florist and the seamstress and so the wedding planner was born.

Sara Hasstedt: Photographer

1924- Marshall Field’s invented the wedding registry and the idea quickly caught on at other department stores as a way for couples to let their friends and family know which china, silver and crystal patterns they preferred.

1925- During the Jazz Age Wedding vendors began to see the profit potential of marketing to brides and the stores began opening bridal departments that offered all kinds of merchandise geared toward weddings including bridal dresses.

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1968- Demand for air travel reached an all time high and the introduction of the first 747 Jumbo Jet made exotic honeymoon destinations a realistic and affordable option for newlyweds.  

1974- During the 70s the desire to have a unique wedding went beyond distinctive wedding attire. The ceremony itself also became more personalized including the choice of venue. Weddings were starting to move out of churches and the concept of having a destination wedding took off!

1981- The wedding of Lady Diana Spencer and Prince Charles was a game changer in the wedding world. 750 million people watched the ceremony on television and soon brides everywhere were visualizing a fairytale wedding. Everyone began channeling their inner royal. Extra lace accents, longer veils, and bigger bouquets thrived.
Referenced from Goldleafevent.com

The History Of The Honeymoon!

The History of the Honeymoon

The History Of The Honeymoon

The honeymoon is a traditional holiday that a couple takes after exchanging their wedding vows. The purpose of the honeymoon is to give the couple some time alone to bond with each other. However, in today’s society many couples use it as a means to relax after the stress of planning a wedding. However, the historical significance of the honeymoon is very different than how we think of it today.

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History of the Honeymoon

The tradition of a honeymoon started in Great Britain in the 19th century. The newlywed couple would go on a tour to visit their relatives who were not able to attend the wedding ceremony. The couple did not always travel alone; friends and family would accompany them on such visits. This practice was restricted to the upper-class strata of society as they could afford the expenses involved in the tour. Traveling in convoys in the countryside while bearing gifts for their relatives was not a cheap affair. The bride’s relatives, as well as the groom’s, would be visited in a period of one month. The practice spread across Europe in the later part of the 1820s. In the ancient Jewish tradition, a honeymoon took place after seven days and nights of feasting and celebration by the friends and relatives of the couple.

photo Credit: http://www.hotels.com

Modern-Day Honeymoons

Couples today usually take a honeymoon shortly after they have exchanged their vows. Popular destinations for a honeymoon include the Caribbean Islands, Africa, and Asia. However, due to changing economic times the couple may opt to delay their honeymoon or not take one at all. With the advent of social media, a honeymoon may not always be private as every moment is shared on social media platforms just like the wedding. While some couples can still afford to go for lengthy honeymoon holidays immediately after the ceremony ends, most modern-day couples take a shortened vacation. With incentives from local governments, couples can afford their honeymoon at local destinations without stretching their resources.

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Issues Related to the Honeymoon Today

Honeymoons today are at the center of some controversy. The reason is some couples tend to shun wedding gifts in exchange for cash which they use to fund their honeymoon trip. These cash obligations are forwarded to friends and relatives and it may burden them. In some cases, the focus on the honeymoon overrides the marriage ceremony itself. Some blame the media which portrays expensive honeymoons, influencing couples to try to stretch their pockets to go on a similarly lavish trip

Photo Credit: http://www.imagesnesdeamor.com

The 6 Steps On Building A Wedding Budget

Newlyweds embrace in an outdoor setting
Photo Credit: http://www.HereComesTheGuide.com

Step 1: Figure Out Who’s Contributing

According to HereComesTheGuide.com, it’s important to talk money right from the get go. Perhaps it’s just you and your fiancé. Or maybe your parents or other family members want to chip in. Whatever the case may be, finding out who’s eager to contribute to your wedding is a good first step in calculating your overall budget.

Try to ascertain how much each party is willing to spend, or what particular aspect of the wedding they’d like to take care of. (For example, maybe Grandma has her heart set on buying you a wedding dress.)

Yes, we realize that money conversations can be super awkward, but knowing who your contributors are is essential to figuring out your bottom line. Just be sure to approach these conversations in a respectful way, and be okay with hearing “Sorry, I’d love to help but I can’t.” 


Step 2: Crunch The Numbers

Once you have an idea of how much financial assistance you’ll receive, focus on your own contribution.

  • How much can you and your fiancé realistically—and comfortably— afford to spend given all the real-life expenses you have to cover? 
  • Based on your monthly income, how much can you both reasonably save between now and the wedding? 
  • How much, if any, can you responsibly pull from an existing savings account?

Estimate your personal wedding budget based on your answers to the questions above. Then add any other financial contributions that you’re confident are coming your way in Step 1.

And there you have it. A ballpark wedding budget. Give yourself a pat on the back…then move on to Step 3.

Step 3: Estimate Your Guest Count 

Now that you’ve got a ballpark budget, you’ll want a ballpark guest count.

The cost of a wedding is pretty much based on guest count. (Read that sentence again and let it soak in.) The number of guests in attendance will determine not only the size of your venue, but also how much food and alcohol you’ll have to provide (which, by the way, just happen to be two of the biggest wedding expenses).

Looking at your wedding as a “per-person” expenditure will help put the costs into perspective. Your guest count will generate the number of items you’ll need to pay for—including invitations, table and chair rentals, cake slices, and wedding favors.

Being strategic about who you invite is the best way to cut down on wedding costs from the get-go. 


Step 4: Choose Your Non-Negotiables

You and your fiancé will probably have differing opinions as to which wedding items are worth splurging on. Maybe your fiancé wants an open bar, but you’d prefer to avoid getting your guests drunk in favor of spending the money on a 5-course gourmet meal.

In any case, you’ll each need to answer this question: What one wedding item is at the very top of your priority list?

Figure it out, and then budget for those two items immediately. (Of course, if you have deeper pockets, you can each pick more than one.)

Once you decide your top priorities, you can allot a bigger percentage of your budget to them—which will also solidify how much you’ll have left for the other wedding items that aren’t so super important to you. 

A pretty pink ombre wedding cake with ruffled fondant

Step 5: Do Your Research

There are a lot of costs, both obvious and hidden, that you’ll have to consider before nailing down where your wedding budget will ultimately land. For example, you often can’t just buy the wedding cake; you’re required to pay a cutting fee. And you don’t pay just the venue rental fee; there may also be setup and breakdown charges. And, there’s a whole slew of vendors you’ll be expected to tip. Do you see where we’re going with this?

It’s no wonder that wedding budgets often get blown out of the water! So, educate yourselves about “hidden” costs—you’ll have fewer surprises and be able to stick closer to your bottom line.

You’ll also need to know the price of things in your chosen geographical area and season. Obviously a wedding in New York City hotel is going to cost more than one in a public park in Tucson, Arizona. Same goes for hosting your wedding on a Saturday in June versus a Wednesday in March. Do your research on the type of wedding you want, be honest as to whether or not it fits into your budget, and adjust your plan accordingly. 


Step 6: Do The Math

After completing all 5 steps above, it’s time to do a final reality check: Does your budget breakdown match the actual cost of your ideal wedding?

Once your estimated budget and your ideal wedding come pretty close to each other, create a spreadsheet and allot a certain dollar amount to each aspect of the event. We recommend using Google Sheets so that you can easily share your spreadsheet with your fiancé, parents, and anyone else who is contributing or helping you stay on budget.

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The Shocking History Of Valentine's Day

Valentines Day History
Images from https://www.countryliving.com/life/a46353/history-of-valentines-day/

Valentine’s Day means different things to different people. For some, the day is celebrated with heart-shaped DIY Valentine’s Day cards, thoughtful gifts of flowers or jewelry, and romantic dinner plans. For others, it’s simply marked by time spent with a loved one and reading romantic poems, or posting a heartfelt comment on a cute couples Instagram photo. And to many more, it’s just another day on the calendar—one that means very little, if anything at all.

But no matter your personal relationship with the day, odds are, you’ve found yourself wondering about its origins from time to time. How did February 14 first come to be considered the day of love, anyway? What’s the origin of Valentine’s Day—and why have its romantic themes persisted to this day?

Oh, and while we’re at it, where does the word “Valentine” come from?

As it turns out, nobody really knows the true history behind this storied holiday, nor do any of the theories completely check out. Even historians find themselves arguing over the exact traditions from which the present-day holiday takes inspiration.

But here, we’re sharing as much as we know about the topic, including the murky origin of Valentine’s Day and its interesting history. Surprisingly, its backstory—though not confirmed—is actually quite dark and even a bit bloody. Strange traditions, pagan rituals, and grisly executions abound. If you’re not faint of heart though, you’ll enjoy learning about everything we’ve compiled here.

WHERE DOES THE WORD VALENTINE COME FROM?

origin of valentine's day

The day is named, of course, for St. Valentine—we all know that by now. But why? Who is this mysterious Valentine?

According to The New York Timesit’s possible that the heart-filled holiday is based on a combination of two men. There were, after all, two Valentines executed on February 14 (albeit in different years) by Emperor Claudius II, reports NPRIt’s believed that the Catholic Church may have established St. Valentine’s Day in order to honor these men, who they believed to be martyrs. What’s more, it’s possible that one of these men, Saint Valentine of Terni, had been secretly officiating weddings for Roman soldiers against the emperor’s wishes, making him, in some eyes, a proponent of love.

But others believe that St. Valentine’s Day was actually designated by Pope Gelasius I in order to replace the ancient Roman festival Lupercalia.

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The debaucherous feast fell around the same time and involved a pagan ritual of naked men whipping women with the blood-soaked hides of sacrificial animals (yes, really), which they believed promoted fertility. Following this flagellation was an equally strange tradition, in which men selected women’s names at random to decide who would remain together the rest of the festival, or, if the match was successful, for life.

However, a University of Kansas English professor, the late Jack B. Oruch, had a different theory, notes the Times: Through research, he determined that the poet Geoffrey Chaucer linked love with St. Valentine for the first time in his 14th-century works “The Parlement of Foules” and “The Complaint of Mars.” Therefore, Oruch claimed that Chaucer invented Valentine’s Day as we know it today. (At the time of Chaucer’s writing, February 14 also happened to be considered the first day of spring in Britain, since it was the beginning of birds’ mating season—perfectly appropriate for a celebration of affection.)

WHY DO WE CELEBRATE VALENTINES DAY?

Whether or not Chaucer can be fully credited, it is true that he and fellow writer Shakespeare popularized the amorous associations surrounding the day. Soon, people began penning and exchanging love letters to celebrate Valentine’s Day, and by the early 1910s, an American company that would one day become Hallmark began distributing its more official “Valentine’s Day cards.” Flowers, candy, jewelry, and more followed, and the rest, of course, is history.

Valentines Day History

A Valentine’s Day postcard from 1910.

WHAT PART DOES CUPID PLAY ON VALENTINE’S DAY?

It’s not all about St. Valentine! Cupid—that winged baby boy often seen on Valentine’s Day cards and paraphernalia—is another symbol of this love-filled holiday, and it’s easy to understand why. In Roman mythology, Cupid was the son of Venus, goddess of love and beauty. He was known for shooting arrows at both gods and humans, causing them to fall instantly in love with one another. While it’s unclear exactly when Cupid was brought into the Valentine’s Day story, it’s certainly clear why.