Un Globe de Mariée

Today’s marriages are celebrated by a delicate scattering of perfectly-edited photos throughout the dwelling of a new couple. The dress and veil are stored in an attic, the bouquet pressed, the cake’s top layer frozen to await the passage of a year—we humans crave ritual, no matter what modern trappings surround us.

In the reign of Napoleon III, those rituals took form in the creation of un globe de mariée—a centerpiece for the couple’s formal dining room, crafted of wood, gold, and glass to house the most important mementos of their union. 

19th century brides favored orange blossoms above all else. Woven into crowns and bouquets, these could then be preserved in wax and make up the centerpiece of un globe de mariée, nestled on a cushion of crimson velvet for all to admire. Surrounding this, she and her groom would gather symbols significant to their story—brass-stamped roses for eternal love, four-leaf clovers for luck, sheaths of wheat for fertility, doves bearing wreaths for harmony. 

And then come the mirrors. 

Unique to each globe, the position of these mirrors lends as much narrative to the overall composition as their individual shapes. A central mirror speaks to the truth of the soul, lest a couple allow falsehoods to settle between them. Ovals were gifts of good fortune, while a cluster of tiny, diamond-cut mirrors represented the children they wished to bring forth. 

As time passed, the couple might add tokens of their life—a baby’s first curls, jewelry gifted on a twentieth anniversary, miniature portraits to mark their devotion. These were equal parts art pieces and treasure chests of memories, meant to be honored for not only the couple’s lifetime, but their future generations’ as well. If you should find yourself in possession of one, know that you’re holding two centuries worth of love in your hands. 

 

Photo Credits: Ruth Ribeaucourt

The Paris Market
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