Wedding Traditions in Early 1800s


As might be expected, pioneer wedding traditions were much simpler than today but there were few old maids and bachelors.

If possible, families provided their daughters with six knives, forks, plates, cups, and saucers, a good bed, bedding, side saddle, teaspoons, tablespoons, teakettle, wash tub, and Dutch oven.

The bride also received her clothes. Her wedding dress was inexpensive. She wore a cap trimmed with ribbons. The groom wore his best suit. Gifts weren’t expected.

Friends and family serenaded the new couple on the wedding night with horns, cow bells, and horse fiddles. Apparently this music was as inharmonious and loud as might be imagined.

The groom invited guests to an Infair the day after the wedding. Wedding guests gathered for a big dinner.

Male guests often raced on horseback to the Infair in a custom called “running for the bottle.” Whoever arrived at the groom’s home first received a whiskey bottle with a red ribbon tied around it. He took it to the party.

If younger siblings married first, the older ones “danced in the hog trough.”

-Sandra Merville Hart



“Infair,” Wiktionary, 2015/06/15

Welker, Martin. 1830’s Farm Life in Central Ohio, Clapper’s Print, 2005.