History 27 Oct 2020 Anna Sorokina The last Empress broke a centuries-old tradition from Romanov’s royal family, and many of her contemporaries thought this was a tragic sign.
The wedding of the Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna, the granddaughter of Alexander II, and Prince Wilhelm, the Duke of Södermanland, a Swedish and Norwegian prince. 1908
At an early age, a future husband would be chosen for young women in the royal family. The groom was chosen from an assortment of Grand Dukes and Princes in Russia and abroad, and their wedding was a matter of state importance. Every part of the ceremony was regulated down to the smallest detail, and the bride’s appearance was one of the most discussed issues in society at the time.
Grand Duchess Elizabeth Mavrikievna, granddaughter of Nicholas I, in the wedding dress, 1884.
The requirements were most stringent for brides in the “first level” of the royal family, that is, those who could ascend to the throne one day. The ceremony itself was a big event where even the minor hiccup could be seen as a bad sign. The wedding dress was also fastened a lot.
A wedding photo of Georgian Prince Konstantine Bagration by Mukhrani and Princess Tatiana Constantinovna.
The “wedding attire” was established by Emperor Nicholas I in 1834, and it applied not only to the most important participants in the ceremony but also to the guests. The design of the wedding dresses was the same, but some adjustments of style, embroidery and decoration were allowed with regard to fashion trends and the bride’s taste.
Princess Elisabeth in the wedding dress and crown, 1884.
General goods; THE NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY
Wedding dresses were made of silver brocade and decorated with precious stones and embroidery with stumps. Two mandatory accessories were a long train and an ermine coat. It was the kind of outfit that was impossible to put on without the help of waiting ladies.
During the church ceremony, the bride had to wear a wedding crown with a diamond tiara on top. There were also ceremonial earrings and a necklace.
Russia’s wedding crown.
Diamond Fund in Moscow has in its collection the only Romanov wedding tiara left in Russia today. It is worn by the Empress Maria Feodorovna, the wife of Paul I, at her wedding and then by other brides in the imperial family.
Diadem with rose diamond.
The tiara has the shape of a kokoshnik with a huge pink diamond in the middle. In total, the diadem contains 175 large Indian diamonds and more than 1200 small round diamonds. The central row is decorated with large free-hanging diamonds in the form of drops.
Tsarskoye Selo (Russia), Grand Duchess Elena Vladimirovna from Russia and Prince Nicholas of Greece and Denmark on their wedding day in the portrait hall of Catherine Palace.
The bride’s jewelry can either come from family farms or be made especially for the occasion. For example, for her wedding to Prince Nicholas of Greece, Grand Duchess Elena Vladimirovna, granddaughter of Emperor Alexander II and cousin of Nicholas II, wore a Cartier diamond headdress and a diamond-shaped cross decoration.
The wedding between Nicholas II and Alexandra Feodorovna.
The Hermitage Museum
In total, a royal wedding dress weighed 25-30 kg. Just standing in it all day was a difficult task, let alone moving! Sometimes brides became so exhausted that they had to be carried around.
Alexandra Feodorovna and her wedding dress.
Hermitage Museum; General goods
According to tradition, brides in the Romanov family donated their wedding dresses to the church afterwards. However, Alexandra Feodorovna, Russia’s last empress, Niklas II’s wife, decided to keep hers. That’s why her wedding dress has survived to this day (you can see it at an exhibition in the Hermitage). Many people at the court did not approve of the empress’s decision and were convinced that her rejection of a hundred-year-old tradition would bring bad luck to the family.