In the Victorian era, many saw marriage as an economic arrangement from which the families of both the bride and groom — though often the groom — would benefit.
And typically, an event known as The Season precipitated all the upper-crust matches that would lead to these arrangements.
These days, couples in Western countries usually date casually — though online matchmaking has recently changed the face of dating and courtship dramatically — but traditionally, there were formal courtship rituals that evolved over the ages.
Courtship in the Middle Ages was often a matter of parents negotiating in order to increase the family’s power or wealth.
But most importantly, knowing the rules helped one show respect for everyone else, including servants, acquaintances, nobility and clergy. It was evident to many even then — social critics of the time popularly mocked the more ridiculous elements of Victorian society.
The magazine "Punch" published cartoons of farcical social scenes, and the satirist W. Gilbert penned humorous lyrics to comic operas skewering silly elements of the culture.
We'll take a glimpse into some of the rules that seem absurd to us today.
How did your grandparents and great-grandparents court and fall in love?
"Etiquette books were all the rage at the time, advising men and women on Victorian courtship rituals and what it means to be a proper lady or manly gentleman.
Status, property, and wealth were the deal makers or breakers.
Young people often didn’t meet their future spouses until after the marriage had already been arranged, and they were sometimes betrothed and married at very young ages.
Families who took part in the event had one goal in mind: To find their daughter a suitor.
No matter where they lived, the Victorian elite would send their daughters — in their mid teens and early twenties — to London for the sake of encountering a potential match.