Eclipse comes out on DVD today, so OBS takes a look at Bella’s engagement ring and wedding dress from the books, and compares them to the era they’re modeled after.
There is a ton of speculation on the internet about what Bella’s wedding dress will look like, and the variety of the guesses is staggering. But if the film makers stay true to the novel, what will it really look like? Here’s a quick overview of turn of the century weddings.
“And for one second, I could. I saw myself in a long skirt and high-necked lace blouse with my hair piled up on my head.” (pg 277, Eclipse); “What do you think?’ she demanded…It was my Anne of Green Gables vision all over again…’It’s perfect, of course…Nineteen-eighteen?’ I guessed. ‘More or less,’ she said, nodding.” (pg 614, Eclipse); “The narrow sheath of the shimmering white dress flared out subtly at the train almost like an inverted calla lily…” (pg 57, Breaking Dawn).
While a beautiful idea, Anne of Green Gables was written and takes place around 1904, closer to the time Edward was born, but a good 15 years before he became a vampire. By that time tastes in cloths had changed dramatically. An Anne style dress would have looked quite a bit like Stephenie Meyer’s description, but that’s not the look she claimed she was going for.
Let me back up a little bit first: it was Queen Victoria’s wedding in 1840 that made the pure white dress a must have for weddings. During Victoria’s reign (which lasted until 1901), the virtue of women was of highest concern for her and her family, which was reflected in the fashion of the times. In fact, necklines rose from the day of Victoria’s wedding until after her death. An everyday outfit during the late Victorian era and into the Edwardian era (ending around 1910) that properly covered a woman could often weigh nearly 37 pounds, and would have included a corset. A wedding dress, which was designed to grandly send a woman into her home life, would have been much more extravagant, although no more revealing.
A wedding dress in 1918, on the other hand, would have been fairly simple. The US had just entered World War I and everything was being rationed, including cloth. The decade was also going towards what would be the “Roaring 20’s”; a time of raised hemlines and dropped necklines. A floor length, high neck dress would have been terribly outdated.
The biggest problem with getting an accurate read on Bella’s dress will also be what affords the film maker’s so room to play with the design. Alice describes it as “more or less” 1918, with some additions of her own, while later Bella and her mother say “Such a creative idea, designing the theme around Bella’s ring…To think it’s been in Edward’s family since the eighteen hundreds!’ The wedding wasn’t centered around the ring, but Edward himself.” (pg 45, Breaking Dawn). A wedding centered on Edward would be 1918, while one designed around the ring would be 1904 at the latest, since the ring was given to Edward’s mother before his birth in 1901.
“Nestled in black satin, Elizabeth Mason’s ring sparkled in the dim light. The face was a long oval, set with slanting rows of glittering round stones. The band was gold—delicate and narrow. The gold made a fragile web around the diamonds.” (pg 458, Eclipse)
The ring, as described in the book, is historically accurate. Since this is the ring Edward’s father gave to his mother, it would have been made in the 1890’s. Victorian engagement rings differed from what we think of as engagement rings today; they were larger and more ornate, and featured motifs such as snakes (like Queen Victoria’s) or hearts. Gold or Rose Gold was the standard. The Edwardian era introduced filigree work and tiny diamonds (as well as the use of Platinum).
Diamonds weren’t as readily available as they are today; and large, good quality diamonds even less so. The general public really only gained access to diamond jewelry after mines were opened in South Africa (what we consider “blood diamonds” now), around 1870. Still, small diamonds were the most accessible, so a ring with many small diamonds equaling a large karat would have been more common. Diamonds weren’t the most popular gemstone used for engagement rings at the time; birthstones of the bride were more common–Queen Victoria’s ring had an emerald. Diamonds were only fit for a man to give to his wife or future wife; a woman wearing diamonds otherwise was scandalous at the time. Bella’s ring (in the book) was based on pictures of Victorian and Edwardian era rings.
The ring from the movie is really a modern interpretation of a classical ring. The filigree detail was probably inspired by engagement rings from the 1900’s to the late 20’s or 30’s, but has a definite contemporary feel to it. It’s a good guess that the dress Kristen Stewart wears in Bella’s wedding will reflect the same idea.