Rosa-Maye Kendrick Harmon's wedding table (Kendrick Collection, TESHS)

The American Wedding

Courtship & Marriage Rituals, 1889-1929

A Whole-House Exhibit at the Trail End State Historic Site

August 1996 - December 1996

Niagara Falls in winter (Private Collection)

Honeymoon Trips

FOR UPPER-MIDDLE class newlyweds, the wedding trip or honeymoon was an opportunity to get to know one another without the pressures of family and friends. Catering to these lucky newlywed couples were honeymoon resorts. Most were associated with famous natural features such as geysers, mountains or waterfalls. Hotels at Niagara Falls, the California Coast and Yellowstone National Park were extremely popular among honeymooners both before and after the turn of the century.

Just an hour or two after their Greeley, Colorado, wedding in January 1891, the newly joined Mr. and Mrs. John B. Kendrick left on their two-month wedding trip, one which included a stop at the famous falls - which may very well have been frozen at the time:

We stopped 1st at Brown Palace Hotel, Denver, Colorado, then Paxton Hotel (the old one of that name), Omaha, Neb., then to the famous old Cattleman's hotel in Chicago, the Palmer House (bought furniture for ranch home in Chicago), then to Niagara Falls, then to Albany, N. Y., and down to New York City by boat, then to Philadelphia, then to Washington, D.C., and back to Greeley.

At nearly all these stops, Eula and John had certain social obligations. They had letters of introduction to friends of their friends, business contacts and merchants. Eula, as a newly-married Victorian society matron, had to pack for every social occasion that might present itself during her wedding trip: morning dresses in which to make morning calls, luncheon dresses for lunch, afternoon dresses for afternoon calls, tea dresses for tea, dinner dresses for dinner, ball gowns for dancing, and nightgowns for sleeping – if she had any time left over! She also needed hats, coats, boots, slippers, gloves, parasols, purses, muffs, jewelry, collars, cuffs, cosmetics and perfumes, plus a wide variety of feminine articles such as stockings, garters, chemises, camisoles, petticoats, bustles, corsets, and in the winter, a wool union suit for warmth.

A Victorian bride was advised to camouflage her newlywed status while on her honeymoon. When one couple arrived at their hotel in Niagara Falls, fresh from the wedding reception, they very carefully spread newspapers over the floor of their room before changing from their traveling clothes. The paper served to catch any stray grains of rice which might have betrayed their newly married status to the hotel staff.

While rail trips were common, cruises were also popular, especially after the turn of the century. After they were married in 1929, Manville and Diana Kendrick took a honeymoon cruise from Baltimore to San Francisco via the Panama Canal, then back East by rail. Two years earlier, Rosa-Maye Kendrick and Hubert Harmon had combined a temporary move with their honeymoon: they took a cruise to London, England, where Hubert had a new job.

Trail End

 State Historic Site