2. Brides at Their Wedding and 3. Brides Outside the House after They Are Married

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Forthcoming in Cesare Vecellio's "Clothing, Ancient and Modern, of Various Parts of the World", translated by Ann Rosalind Jones and Margaret F. Rosenthal, forthcoming from Thames and Hudson, London, in Autumn 2008. Copyright Ann Rosalind Jones and Margaret F. Rosenthal
Reproduction prohibited without permission of the authors and the publisher.

2. Brides at Their Wedding and 3. Brides Outside the House after They Are Married

Once their weddings have been announced and the parentado (as we call a certain wedding ceremony in Venice) has taken place, they usually dance at balls throughout several days and appear in public and receive all their relatives festively. And for this purpose they have dancing masters, whom they employ during these days, and they are elderly men. During the parentado, which includes both men and women, though they are usually kept separate, these dancing masters lead the brides out of their rooms into the portego [a long hall running down the center of the house, on the main floor] in the presence of their relatives and friends, who are seated there, and they teach them how to bow to everyone and so, to the sound of various instruments, they perform certain dances and then return to their rooms, where there are many women who dress them up, often changing their ensembles, and send them out beautifully attired and so well adorned that when these ornaments are added to their innate beauty, with which Mother Nature has usually been very generous to them, they look like brilliant suns.


For the wedding itself, they go to church with a large group of men and women, the relatives not only of the groom but also of the bride, preceded by musicians, with torches carried by servants, which are lit as mass is said. They attend this in great splendor, outfitted with carpets and cushions on which the lean and kneel. Once mass is said and the blessing of the priest has been received, they return home and then they are led to the house of their husband, where the festivities start again. For almost a year they continue to wear their hair down on their shoulders, with golden trim and an ornament on their head, such as a circlet studded with jewels of great value, some showing in a natural style and others by exquisite, careful art all their golden-colored hair, with curls in the style of the day and with so many valuable jewels and pendants at their ears and strands of pearls at their necks, instead of necklaces, that they are a marvel to behold. During this time most of them dress in white satin or some other silk, according to the season, which announces their fidelity and chastity. In the past they wore simple white, without any decoration, their hair embellished with curls on their forehead, and baveri and bracciali [veils for the shoulders and breast, and shoulder rolls covering the pins or ties that attached the sleeves to the bodice] trimmed with ruffles, and at their wrists, too, as you can see here. But starting six years ago, they’ve changed all these things completely, with the addition of a new hairstyle: they wear two horn-like points artfully made of their hair, attempting to imitate the goddess of chastity[1]. Their garments are white but with beautiful designs woven into them, and their baveri have high lace collars, beautifully constructed of standing openwork lace, as are their bracciali; and in a lovely style, they pad their bodices, elongated well below the waist, and wear the usual ornaments, of greater rather than later value, as can be seen illustrated in the ensemble here. And when they go out, they are accompanied by many older married women of their clan and by a great number of servants. And they wear a long train.

[1] Vecellio refers jokingly here to Diana, the Roman goddess associated with chastity and often represented with a crescent moon on her head.

© Ann Rosalind Jones and Margaret F Rosenthal.




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