Happy 133rd wedding anniversary to Oscar and Constance, who married on 29 May 1884. Last year, to mark the occasion, members of the Oscar Wilde Society attended the unveiling of an OSCANCE memorial at St. James’s Church, Paddington by the couple’s grandson and honorary patron of the society, Merlin Holland.
Although Oscar was in the public eye by then, the uncertain health of Constance’s grandfather, John Horatio Lloyd, ensured that their wedding was an unexpectedly low-key event. Admittance, by invitation only, was restricted to family and close friends. Nevertheless, the event was covered extensively by the press of the day.
According to the Edinburgh Evening News, Oscar ‘bore himself with calm dignity’. He deprived the gossip columnists of copy by wearing a perfectly ordinary blue morning frock-coat with grey trousers, although he did display ‘a touch of pink in his neck tie’.
The ceremony may have been subdued, but the bride and groom were jubilant. The Lady’s Pictorial reported that:
The newly-married pair, as they came down the long aisle arm-in-arm, looked as hundreds of newly-married people have looked before – the bridegroom happy and exultant; the bride with a tender flush on her face, and a happy hopeful light in her soft brown eyes.
Constance’s lovely dress was described in society magazine Queen as a:
…rich creamy satin dress…of a delicate cowslip tint; the bodice, cut square and somewhat low in front, was finished with a high Medici collar; the ample sleeves were puffed; the skirt, made plain, was gathered by a silver girdle of beautiful workmanship, the gift of Mr. Oscar Wilde; the veil of saffron-coloured Indian silk gauze was embroidered with pearls and worn in Marie Stuart fashion; a thick wreath of myrtle leaves crowned her frizzed hair; the dress was ornamented with clusters of myrtle leaves; the large bouquet had as much green in it as white.
Lady Jane Wilde, Oscar’s mother, looked resplendent in grey satin, trimmed with a chenille fringe and topped off with a high crowned hat adorned with ostrich feathers. It was reported in the Lancaster Gazette that she:
‘“snatched” her new daughter to her heart with some effusion’.
After a modest reception at the Lancaster Gate home of John Horatio Lloyd, the newlyweds boarded the boat-train to Dover and travelled on to Paris; ‘few married couples ever carried better wishes with them,’ gushed the Aberdeen Evening Express.
Lovely to think of them sharing such happiness. Read Wilde’s Women for a full account of their marriage.