The word trousseau is from the old French Trousse or bundle. It has become known as the word for the collection of possessions, that a bride assembled for her marriage to take to a new home.
In the past this was a mother daughter activity getting ready for when the daughter married and left home. Victorian ladies would sew their wedding dress, honeymoon clothes (negligees, nightdress and undergarments) and a few day dresses. Wealthy ladies would have these clothes made up for them and would have a ‘Trousseau Tea’ inviting friends and family to come and see the luxury gifts – I wonder how competitive this got scanning the gifts of others and comparing them to yours!
In my mother and grandmother’s day women gradually collected items, which were in those days expensive compared to incomes, like linen, tea towels, sheets, blankets and china, too costly to be given as wedding gifts. This helped young couples have the basics for their new life. These were all kept in a ‘bottom drawer’ or chest and in America a girl would have a ‘Hope Chest’ – I wonder if this literally meant she ‘hoped’ she would marry?
Some Trousseaus included things like a book of handwritten family recipes passed out through the female lines, family photos where important for brides whose marriage took them to far away places and favourite childhood toys might have found themselves tucked amongst the linen.
In the UAE they have a version of the ‘Trousseau Tea’: the family is asked to the bride’s house to see the gifts of family and friends not forgetting what the groom has bought her - a way to impress how he will look after his bride.
By the 1950’s although the ‘Trousseau Tea’ had waned guests had the chance to see who had given what as the Wedding gifts were opened before the day and were laid out neatly labelled at the reception.
Today brides have a kind of virtual trousseau where friends and family are asked to look at lists choosing the present they would like to give. Have Bridal Showers, where more personal pampering gifts for the Bride such as candles, luxury toiletries, bridal accessories and jewellery are given, replaced the Trousseau Tea?
We have gone full circle. For those who have already a home the Trousseau returns to the original idea of those special items you need for the wedding day and honeymoon.
At Vee Pretty we can help with ideas for that all-important trousseau, as special today as it was hundreds of years ago. For you, a lingerie case or nightdress embroidered with your new initials, garters, and buttons and for your home towels and pillowcases. There are also many lovely gift ideas for your bridesmaids, the mothers or any one special you would like to thank.