Daybreak found Sagacia sitting at the table huddled among a of pile books. Books with bookmarks in them, books opened and stacked on top of each other both face up and face down–Sh-h! Don’t tell the librarian!–and books standing open to illustrations.
Stepping into the kitchen in her robe and fuzzy bunny slippers, Simplia was astonished to see her friend up so early, magnifying glass in hand, poring over a copy of 1001 Arabian Nights.
“How long have you been up?” she asked, reaching for the teapot.
“Maybe a couple of hours” Sagacia mumbled, slowly turning pages. “I got to thinking about what we were discussing the other day; you know, what the bride’s mother really wants?”
She stopped turning pages and looked up. “I think she wants a photograph that will last forever, a photograph of herself at a proud moment looking young and beautiful, wearing a beautiful gown! Her daughter, too, of course! She wants something she can show her grandchildren and pass down for all time as proof of the family’s beauty and honor.”
“And say ‘Photo, photo, in the hall / Who is the fairest of them all?’” Simplia recited.
“Something like that,” Sagacia replied. “I mean, what if there had been wedding photographers at fairy tale weddings?”
“Would an illustrator do?” Simplia asked, sipping from her hot teacup.
“Exactly what I woke up thinking at 4:00 a.m. this morning! So, I just decided to look up some of them. Some real fairy tale wedding pictures.”
Simplia sat down, and her friend pushed some open books in her direction.
“This is Viktor Vasnetsov’s ‘Frog Tsarevna’,” she said.
“Nice!” Simplia responded. “I could live with that wedding dress! But what about Vasilisa’s favorite artist, Ivan Bilibin?”
“I couldn’t find any wedding pictures from him! I was surprised, too.”
“I know this one.” Simplia said, picking up another open book. “Bluebeard, back when he still seemed like a nice guy.”
“Right!” Sagacia said. “And the illustrator was Edmund Dulac.”
“With a lavish, photogenic setting to boot!” Simplia observed. “But, who’s this?” she asked, holding up an image she was sure came from the hand of Kay Nielson. “Is that a wedding?”
“Well, it’s en route to the wedding,” Sagacia explained. “Closest I could come for Tam Lin and Janet. They’re returning to her father’s house to be wed.”
“I see,” Simplia affirmed, picking up a volume of Perrault’s French Fairy Tales.
“Ah! And here’s that most famous wedding: Cinderella and her prince.”
“Yep. Gotta have that one,” Sagacia said. “And gotta have George Cruikshank! And this one is…”
“The Frog Prince!” Simplia interrupted.
“What an intimate, family wedding that must have been,” Sagacia noted, “but a nice banquet, I see.”
“Probably a long one, too. As far into the night as the princess could make it last!” Simplia laughed.
“Many, many courses, I’m sure! No need to rush to dessert!”
And this one?” Simplia asked.
“Thumbelina, and Harry Clark.”
“That’s who she married?”
“No,” Sagacia said. “He was the illustrator of that Hans Christian Andersen Tale! I loved that one when I was a child!”
“And who created this?” Simplia asked.
“Anonymous,” Sagacia sighed. “Khosrow and Shirim in their gorgeous pavilion. One of those tiny, intricate Persian fairy tale scenes painted by some master exclusively for some king.
“And I know this one!” Simplia said. “Aladdin! Maybe not the wedding, but the proposal.”
“That’s what I think, too, and Sterret knew enough to make the characters Chinese, not Persian or Arab like that Disney bunch.” Sagacia stated. “She caught the moment vividly, if you ask me.”
“I recently saw one set of real life wedding photos that included the proposal,” Simplia boasted. “A cousin with a cell phone camera!”
She took a sip of tea. “But the thing that still gets me is that there just doesn’t seem to be any connection between a beautiful wedding and a beautiful marriage. Just like in real life, right? That’s what Bride-to-Be in Brandenburg’s mother doesn’t seem to get.”
“I’ve made a few notes about that, too,” Sagacia said, shuffling through her papers. “Here.” She held out a list. “Which of these famous couples had a wedding? Any wedding at all! Doesn’t have to be extravagant!”
Simplia took the paper and began to reflect on the stories of the famous lovers Sagacia had listed under the title “Wedding Quiz.”
“I suppose you mean, a wedding where they married each other,” she said, glancing down the list.
“Oh, yes!” Sagacia replied. “I should have been more specific.”
~ WEDDING QUIZ ~
Which of these famous pairs of lovers had weddings?
1. Orpheus and Eurydice
2. Lancelot and Guinevere
3. Tristan and Isolde
4. Rapunzel and her Prince
5. Jacob and Rachel
6. Pyramus and Thisbe
7. Eloise and Abelard
8. Layla and Majnun
9. Odysseus and Penelope
10. Romeo and Juliet
Simplia marked her list and, in truth, she scored pretty high, so she poured herself another cup of tea and sat down to look at more wedding pictures as a reward.
How did you do on Sagacia’s quiz, dear magical friend? Check your answers in a comment box below.
Do you have a favorite wedding illustration from 398.2 you’d like to share? Provide a link to a public domain image, and we’ll add it to Sagacia’s collection.