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EXHIBITS : Learning How Victorians Did the I-Do Thing

June 20, 1991|PAT H. BROESKE | Pat H. Broeske is a staff writer who writes on the arts for The Times Orange County Edition.

The American wedding ceremony circa 1890 to 1910--and all the social functions associated with it--is the topic of "The Victorian Bride," a tour to be conducted Friday and Saturday by the Discovery Museum of Orange County.

The bridal edition (not coincidentally in June) is one of the museum's four new "Turn of the Century Tours." The two-hour event will show the ways that things have--and haven't--changed through the years, with a guided walk through the 1898 Kellogg House, formerly the home of Santa Ana pioneer and city engineer Hiram Clay Kellogg, which will be specially dressed for the occasion.

Spectators will see displays ranging from bridal gowns of the day to typical kitchen preparations. The tour will include a light tea served in the formal dining room.

Among the bygone customs that will be explained during the tour: the all-important calling card (the better to tell someone's social status) that was delivered to ladies by gentlemen only during proper visiting hours, and the do's and don'ts of gift-giving.

Then there was the matter of what to wear. As Prescott Holmes explains in his "Courtship and Matrimony," the vintage tome that served as a kind of guidebook for the museum tour: "The dress of the bride admits of but little variation." The teeny waistlines on those vintage bridal gowns reveals something else about the period: Those women wore corsets.

And, as evidenced by the description of the foods for the wedding day breakfast, they didn't count calories or carbohydrates. One recipe for a wedding cake, from a 1911 "Butterick Cook Book," calls for a full pound of brown sugar and four pounds of raisins. It also includes this startling comment: "This cake will last for years. Keep it in a stone jar or tin box in a cool place."

Equally startling: honeymoons in olden days often lasted three weeks and longer. And the marriageable age for women was at least 20, and men were supposed to be at least 30--the better to be in a position to foot the bills for the two of them.

What: The Victorian Bride tour.

When: Friday, June 21, from 2 to 4 p.m. and Saturday, June 22, from 10 a.m. to noon.

Where: The Kellogg House at the Discovery Museum of Orange County, 3101 W. Harvard St., Santa Ana.

Whereabouts: Take the San Diego (405) Freeway to the Fairview Street off-ramp and go north. Turn left (west) at Harvard St. The museum is on the right.

Wherewithal: $15 per person (tea included).

Where to Call: (714) 540-0404.

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