Weddings. What a joy. I’m excited to be helping my oldest son and future daughter-in-law plan their wedding as they prepare to take their vows. Nowadays, wedding celebrations include banquets, toasts, honeymoons, and photo shoots.
But there was a time when friends and neighbors gathered to give the happy couple a send-off they wouldn’t soon forget. One that included a surprise visit in the dead of night and lots of clatter!
Past Wedding Traditions
It’s almost a forgotten bit of wedding traditions–the shivaree. If you’ve never heard of one, you’re not alone. A shivaree was a raucous and fun-loving way to celebrate a newly married couple’s nuptials. It took place days, weeks, even months following the actual wedding. The element of surprise was key.
Though more prevalent in the 1800’s, my parents have told stories of shivarees that took place in their growing up years (mid-1900s). According to them, the Shivaree began with a late-night wake-up call of banging pans and noise-makers. Then the group would serenade the couple with songs such as Let Me Call You Sweetheart. Afterward, the late-night visitors would join the couple for snacks and desserts, often provided by the newlyweds.
Shivarees of the nineteenth century were much bolder and at times down right ornery. I didn’t realize just how ornery until I did some research for a scene in my novel, Under Prairie Skies. Set in 1855, the scene has my main characters, Chad and Charlotte, and a host of others, traveling by the light of the moon to the unsuspecting couple’s home.
There, the bride and groom are awakened by rifle fire and banging pans. The barefoot groom is then blindfolded and spirited away in his nightshirt into the timber and left to fend for himself until daybreak. All the while, his poor, bewildered bride is wailing and calling his name. Not the best way to wish a new couple a joyous marriage! I won’t share any spoilers by telling how the scene evolves, but I will say Chad’s actions further endear him to Charlotte.
Though I’ve not participated in or even known anyone to be shivareed, my husband attended one for his cousin when he was a boy. So, when we married, he had me more than a little nervous we would end up with his extended family outside our bedroom window some dark night banging pans and serenading us.
My fears never came to fruition, but all that first summer, I did a lot of baking and learned to be a very light sleeper!
This week my new publisher (Scrivenings Press) is hosting a Launch Party Sweepstakes. I invite you to enter to win one of 3 great Giveaway prizes, including a chance at a $50 Amazon Gift Card, a $25 Amazon Gift Card, and up to 20 e-books, including my entire Prairie Sky Series along with some other great reads! Giveaway ends July 21st! at 9 pm!