French Weddings


Weddings and Courtships
Bridal Trousseau / Hope Chest

In traditional farming and crafting societies, care of a family was broken up into two halves. One half was the male domain. He would be responsible for bringing the farm implements, crafting tools, blacksmithing tools and other "tools of the trade" to a marriage in order to support and maintain the family. In return, the female brought in all that was needed for her domain - the tableware, linens, her clothing, candlesticks, and so on.

So, from birth, each baby girl was provided with a hope chest, or "bridal trousseau". Relatives and friends of the family would gift the child with items she would need for her marriage. As she grew and learned embroidery, she would work on items to go in that chest. Over time she would build up quite a collection - napkins, towels, tablecloths, curtains and so on. In this manner, by the time she was of marriageable age, she would be fully prepared to set up her own home, full of items of her own.

In modern times, the roles are far less rigid. It might be the woman earning the household funds with her carpentry skills and collection of tools. It might be the man who stays home, caring for the kids and running the household. Each half of the couple still brings into the new household a collection of their personal items. This includes their clothing, their personal effects and other items they contribute to the new combined home. While roles have changed, the woman will still want to make her mark on this new home - to decorate it with items she's treasured over the years and waited to put in her own home.

It's never to late to create your own trousseau! This can be a simple storage box, or a more fancy, carved wooden box for the foot of your bed or under the window of your living room. The key with a trousseau is that it is added to slowly, one item at a time. At each birthday, at each holiday, you make a list of things you'd like to add to your trousseau. You give the list to family and friends. Slowly you accumulate items you really adore.

Even if you have your own home now, a trousseau is a great place to store your most special items. This is a wonderful place for a pair of silver candlesticks, a fine tablecloth or two, and other items for romantic dinners or when you have guests.