Dubuque Symphony Orchestra
Suitors keeping steady company on Sunday evenings for two years was a sign that the two might have serious intentions of marriage. The final announcement was kept a perfect secret. Not one of the family would dare divulge the secret that they were having a wedding in the family.
Patch-work comforts were quilted in the heat of
an upstairs room lest unexpected visitors would
suspect the approaching wedding. Pillows were
stuffed with goose and duck down saved from
previous butcherings. Dresser scarves were edged
with crocheted or tatted edges.
Finally the couple were publicly called - that is - it was announced from the pulpit by the priest or minister. “There is a promise of marriage between (girl’s full name) and (boy’s full name). If anyone knows of any reason why this marriage should not take place they are bound to make the reason known. This public announcement was made on three Sundays in succession. Never was the intended couple supposed to hear themselves “called” as the term was. Nor were they supposed to be seen at a public gathering, like a dance, until after the marriage was over.
The dowry was set up by both sets of parents of the couple, often a cow and a calf or $100 dollar bill,
and the amount was the same in value for each family
Preparations were in full swing. The whole house
took a thorough house cleaning from attic to cellar.
New carpets were laid, new curtains hung; woodwork painted, in all it was a complete renovation of the
All members of the house were arrayed in new clothing. Personal invitations were sent to relatives, neighbors and friends.
The best cook in the country, be it relative or friend, was selected to be chief cook. This did not mean that the cook named had any idea of the quantity of food needed, Her orders were, “Have enough food: better to have twice too much than not enough.” Chickens were killed, hams taken from the meat barrels in the cellar and boiled, cakes were made with special attention given to a three tiered white cake for the bride, and a three tiered dark cake (often fruit cake) for the groom. These two cakes were placed on large round cake stands, heirlooms of the families. In all, the preparation of the food, would surpass the Inaugural preparations.
Ice cream was brought in deep gallons of round containers packed with ice. A large cake of ice was
put in a tub in the cellar to keep everything cool
Candy and nut baskets were made to match the
choice of colors selected by the bride. They held
the place tags for seating the guests.
The groom came to the bride’s home to take her to church. There were two attendants to witness the marriage. A special choir was given the honor of
singing sacred hymns during the ceremony.