Book weddings: Anne Shirley

The third wedding in the Anne series is arguably the most important. It is Anne’s.

… it was a happy and beautiful bride who came down the old, homespun-carpeted stairs that September noon—the first bride of Green Gables, slender and shining-eyed, in the mist of her maiden veil, with her arms full of roses.

The mist and maidenliness of a bridal veil recurs.

“But you are going to wear a veil, aren’t you?” asked Diana, anxiously.

“Yes, indeedy. I shouldn’t feel like a bride without one.”

The image of Anne coming down the stairs is a beautiful one, but relatively light on what wedding blogs like to call “details”. Diana describes Anne’s wedding dress in thrilling but unspecific terms as “a dream”, but we don’t get any more about it than that. Of course what is important about a wedding doesn’t lie in the cut of a bodice or the ruffles on a skirt … but all the same, I want to know what sort of sleeves Anne of Green Gables’ wedding dress had!

Gilbert, waiting for her in the hall below, looked up at her with adoring eyes. She was his at last, this evasive, long-sought Anne, won after years of patient waiting. It was to him she was coming in the sweet surrender of the bride. Was he worthy of her? Could he make her as happy as he hoped? If he failed her—if he could not measure up to her standard of manhood—then, as she held out her hand, their eyes met and all doubt was swept away in a glad certainty. They belonged to each other; and, no matter what life might hold for them, it could never alter that. Their happiness was in each other’s keeping and both were unafraid.

They were married in the sunshine of the old orchard, circled by the loving and kindly faces of long-familiar friends. Mr. Allan married them, and the Reverend Jo made what Mrs. Rachel Lynde afterwards pronounced to be the “most beautiful wedding prayer” she had ever heard. Birds do not often sing in September, but one sang sweetly from some hidden bough while Gilbert and Anne repeated their deathless vows. Anne heard it and thrilled to it; Gilbert heard it, and wondered only that all the birds in the world had not burst into jubilant song; Paul heard it and later wrote a lyric about it which was one of the most admired in his first volume of verse; Charlotta the Fourth heard it and was blissfully sure it meant good luck for her adored Miss Shirley. The bird sang until the ceremony was ended and then it wound up with one mad little, glad little trill. Never had the old gray-green house among its enfolding orchards known a blither, merrier afternoon. All the old jests and quips that must have done duty at weddings since Eden were served up, and seemed as new and brilliant and mirth-provoking as if they had never been uttered before.

I want to know what those old jests and quips are. It must have seemed obvious to Montgomery and her audience, but from a century later and an ocean away it’s hard to know if any of my guesses would be accurate.

Laughter and joy had their way; and when Anne and Gilbert left to catch the Carmody train, with Paul as driver, the twins were ready with rice and old shoes, in the throwing of which Charlotta the Fourth and Mr. Harrison bore a valiant part. Marilla stood at the gate and watched the carriage out of sight down the long lane with its banks of goldenrod. Anne turned at its end to wave her last good-bye. She was gone—Green Gables was her home no more; Marilla’s face looked very gray and old as she turned to the house which Anne had filled for fourteen years, and even in her absence, with light and life.

Montgomery gives her favourite characters the nicest weddings, and Anne’s has the same characteristics as Miss Lavendar’s: an outdoor ceremony; guest list made up only of long-familiar friends; officiants who are friends as well as ministers; a hearty lunch; and what for nowadays would be a very early goodbye. (And those old shoes make their appearance again!) Anne has no bridesmaids as all the girlfriends she would ask are either married or not able to attend, and she goes straight to her new matrimonial home to spend her honeymoon with Gilbert there.

Simple, straight from the heart, and relatively inexpensive. What more could you want? (Though I still want to know about the sleeves!)

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