The Hope Chest became a wedding tradition that evolved out of necessity. In a previous era, many less fortunate families could not afford a dowry. As a means to attract a potential suitor, mothers began to teach their young daughters the essentials of homemaking. These qualities were seen as a value to young men and their families.
Dreaming of their wedding day, the young women began to knit, sew and embroider their own linen, towels and fabrics. In "hope" for a marriage proposal they began collecting their trousseau, their hand-made items and all the necessities that would be needed to set up their bridal residence. Soon, fathers began to build an elaborately decorate chest to store these lovely items. The "Hope Chest" soon became popular.
The Hope Chest began as a wooded box or trunk that was lined with cedar in order to preserve the gentle fabric contents. As it evolved, it became more elaborate. Expensive woods were used with decorative carved designs.
While father's proudly built the chest as a gift to their daughters, their mother had the honor of presenting it to the young bride and assisting her in filling it. It soon became a beautiful and expected wedding tradition. The Hope Chest was soon passed down from mother to daughter as a treasured family heirloom.
The tradition quickly caught on continued throughout Europe and became popular in the United States until approximately the early 20th century. Popularity increased again following World War I when the famed Lane Furniture Company began a romantic marketing plan to promote their new Lane Hope Chest.
Even today, those brides who have a traditional design style for their new home may enjoy the added decorative and storage features a Hope Chest brings to any room.
Hope Chest by Jessica McClintock.