It was not until suppertime that Laura found courage to say that she and Almanzo had planned to be married so soon.
“We can’t possibly get you a wedding dress made,” Ma objected.
“We can finish the black cashmere and I will wear that,” Laura answered.
“I do not like to think of your being married in black,” said Ma. “You know they say, ‘Married in black, you’ll wish yourself back.’”
“It will be new. I will wear my old sage-green poke bonnet with the blue silk lining, and borrow your little square gold pin with the strawberry in it, so I’ll be wearing something old and something new, something borrowed and something blue,” Laura said cheerfully.
“I don’t suppose there’s any truth in these old sayings,” Ma consented.
Chapter 31: Wedding Plans, These Happy Golden Years
When Laura and Almanzo made plans to finally marry, and marry soon, Laura didn’t have time to make a proper wedding dress. Instead, there was a fancy black cashmere dress she had been making that she decided to wear instead, as she believed she could finish making it in time. However, Ma was concerned about Laura wearing black due to an old wives tale, or superstition, that would bring the couple bad luck.
The phrase “married in black, you’ll wish yourself back” is a superstition that dates back several centuries that Caroline Ingalls had learned. The origins of the phrase are unclear, but it was a commonly held belief in many cultures that wearing black at one’s wedding was a bad omen that would bring bad luck to the marriage.
One possible explanation for the superstition is that black was traditionally associated with mourning and sadness, and wearing black at a wedding was seen as a sign that the bride was not happy about the union. Another explanation is that black was believed to attract evil spirits or bad luck, and wearing black at a wedding was seen as an invitation for disaster.
While the superstition has persisted in many cultures, particularly in Western cultures, over time it has become less common and less strongly held. Today, many brides choose to wear black or other non-traditional colors at their weddings, and there is no evidence to suggest that this has any impact on the success of their marriages. But young readers particularly are surprised that Laura married in a black dress instead of a proper white wedding dress.
Laura and Almanzo had several difficult years following their marriage, including the death of their son and the loss of their house to a fire. But whether the black wedding dress had anything to do with it would have depended more on their personal beliefs.