Even the most modern weddings still follow some of the most time-honored traditions. And choosing to put together a bridal trousseau certainly may be one of them.
What is a Bridal Trousseau?
A bridal trousseau is a collection of possessions, such as clothing, jewelry, and linens, that a bride assembles to prepare for her wedding day and for marriage.
A bridal trousseau can be so much more than just the lingerie set you plan to wear on your wedding night. It can be a collection of items you intend to wear throughout your rehearsal dinner and wedding day, along with items you plan to bring on your honeymoon. It might even include a few prized family heirlooms you intend to bring with you into married life.
According to Aleah and Nick Valley, founders of Valley & Company Events, it may be a collection of jewelry to be worn, your undergarments and dress, shoes, a veil, and wedding lingerie. "While there is a modern twist on the classic trousseau, the idea is still steeped in tradition but can be personalized and modified to what the bride holds dear," they say.
Meet the Expert
Aleah and Nick Valley are the founders of Valley & Company Events, a full-service wedding planning company based in Seattle, Washington.
Ready to get started on putting together your own bridal trousseau? Read on to learn more about the history of this tradition, its meaning, and how you can incorporate it into your modern-day wedding.
The History and Meaning of a Bridal Trousseau
The tradition of a bridal trousseau dates back hundreds of years. “It was often thought of as a symbol of status. A bride’s family could fill a chest with dresses, linens, and housewares to prepare her for her new married life,” says Aleah and Nick Valley. As tradition would have it, the fuller and richer a trousseau was, the higher the bride’s status. In literature references, a trousseau has symbolized a family's financial status, domestic arts, leaving home, and virginity.
From Victorian times, the trousseau consisted of brand-new outfits to see a woman through her wedding, honeymoon, and newlywed days. Unless a family was wealthy, garments in a trousseau often were hand-sewn by a mother, aunt, grandmother, or the girl herself, if skilled with a needle.
Over time, the tradition has transformed, ultimately leaving the symbolism of status and class behind. However, brides are still incorporating ultra-personal items that fit their own style and aesthetic. “While today’s bride might not know she’s creating her own trousseau, she is doing so by collecting gifts from her bridal shower, setting aside her grandmother’s diamond earrings, stowing her mother’s veil and lace table runners, and other goods that she’s using either for her wedding day or transition into married life,” says Aleah and Nick Valley.
Bridal Trousseau FAQS
What are some of the traditional items that make up a bridal trousseau?
Every bridal trousseau is certainly different, but there are some similarities that shine through. “A trousseau could include everything from pottery to jewelry, dresses, family heirlooms, quilted bedding, money, and other items to prepare for a new home,” says Aleah and Nick Valley. You’ve heard the saying "something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue, and a silver sixpence in her shoe," right? Your bridal trousseau is the ideal place to keep all of those treasured items, with the addition of the sixpence (or a penny) for good luck, as well as your getting-ready attire and undergarments as you prepare for your wedding day, honeymoon, and married life.
As you're packing for your honeymoon, your bridal trousseau can definitely come in handy. Add in things like your swimwear or cover up for the pool so you don't forget to pack essential items amidst the wedding planning chaos.
Where is a bridal trousseau kept?
Traditionally, a bridal trousseau was kept in a cedar hope chest, a handmade box, or a beautiful trunk. Often, it’s something that is an heirloom keepsake, passed down through the family. A more modern trousseau might be housed in a variety of containers. “A trousseau may come in the shape of a sleek travel chest or a steamer trunk that includes everything from bridal shoes to perfume or a wedding morning robe that a bride can bring to the getting ready location on the wedding day,” says Aleah and Nick Valley.
Don't be afraid to get creative with what you choose to house your bridal trousseau. From boxes to bags, the options are truly endless. It's all about finding something that suits your personality and style.
How does a bride start to put together a bridal trousseau?
Putting together a bridal trousseau can come in so many forms. It can be your most prized possessions, or items handed down from generation to generation. Gathering items from those closest to you, such as your mother or grandmother, will help to put together a meaningful trousseau, while adding in items you plan to wear on your wedding day or your wedding night lingerie for later in the evening.
When should a bride start putting together a bridal trousseau?
It’s never too early to get some planning done. If you’re excited to put together the items you’ll wear for your wedding day, and perhaps those you’ll wear for your honeymoon, ahead of time, why not start right after you celebrate your engagement? A bridal trousseau may morph and change over time as items are added to it.
Are there any other uses for a bridal trousseau?
While a bridal trousseau is certainly helpful for keeping things all in one place before and during a wedding, it can also serve as the perfect addition to wedding photos. According to Aleah and Nick Valley, it's not uncommon for the bridal trousseau to be styled for photographs, incorporating things like written vows, a bouquet, a hairpiece, or any other token the bride might be carrying on the big day.
What should you do with your bridal trousseau after the wedding?
If you've put together your bridal trousseau in a beautiful hope chest, a special box, or a trunk, this may be a piece that will stay with you for many years to come. While some of the items included may be returned, such as your something borrowed or other family heirlooms, stowing other keepsakes in your bridal trousseau is a lovely way to commemorate your big day. You may also consider holding onto the box or trunk so that you can pass it down to your future daughter or daughter-in-law for their own wedding day.