The bridal couple usually left for their honeymoon after the wedding breakfast. The honeymoon originated with early man when marriages were by capture, not by choice. The man carried his bride off to a secret place where her parents or relatives couldn't find her. While the moon went through all its phases-about 30 days-they hid from searchers and drank a brew made from mead and honey. Thus, the word, honeymoon. The honeymoon is now considered a time to relax.
In the early 19th century, it was customary for the bride to take a female companion along on the honeymoon. The bride wore a traveling dress, which may have been her wedding dress, especially if the wedding had been an intimate affair with few family and friends, or they were traveling by train or steamer immediately after the reception. Colors for the dress were becoming and practical--brown or black for mid-Victorian. But whatever she chose, the bride was advised not to wear something conspicuously new out of respect to the sensitivity of her husband who might not want people to know he was just married. If the bride was married in her traveling dress, she often wore a bonnet with it instead of a veil.
If changing into the traveling costumes, the bride and groom did so immediately after the cake was cut. Bridesmaids went with the bride to help her, at which time she gave them each a flower from her bouquet. By the time the couple was ready to depart, only family and intimate friends were present. As the couple drove off in a carriage pulled by white horses, the remaining party-goers threw satin slippers and rice after the couple. If a slipper landed in the carriage, it was considered good luck forever. If it was a left slipper, all the better.
The best man preceded the couple to the train or steamer to look after their luggage. No one asked where the bride and groom were going. It was bad taste. Only the best man knew, and he was sworn to secrecy.
Finally, upon their return from their travels, one final custom required that the groom carry the bride over the threshold to their new house. This would ensure that the bride did not stumble, which would bring bad luck.