The Hope Chest Tradition



I think we have all grown up hearing about the Hope Chest but how many of us in these days have participated in the tradition?  It came from Europe to the United States in the 18th Century.  It is based on the idea of a woman’s goal of being one day married.  Also called a “dowry box”, it follows the idea that a woman brings with her value to the union.

A Hope Chest can be used in one of two ways.  It can be created by a mother for her daughter at a young age or a girl can begin one and add to it until she completes it.  It can also be used as an heirloom to be added to and passed down from generation to generation.


A Hope Chest is a box that can be as large as a trunk that is at the end of a bed.  It is often made of Cedar because it repels bugs and fungus and gives its contents a nice smell.  Hope Chests are for collecting items that you will need when you move away from home when you get married.  The tradition started with the “hope” of a small girl or her mother to get married.  In previous times, it was important that a girl get married young.  The chest was a place to collect and protect the items you would need when you left the house.


Typical items you would find in a “hope chest” would be your “trousseau” which could be linens, possibly china, towels, quilts, and sometimes photos of the family.  These could be given to the young girls as gifts or collected over time by the girl herself.  Once she was married, the chest would travel to her new home and would be a comfort to her as she made the adjustment.


The actual chest could vary.  Often it was made of cedar, as mentioned before, but could also be made of Oak. The chest could be a plain variety with just the grain of the wood as decoration. Many were fully decorated with carvings that could be customized with something that was important to the bride-to-be. Sometimes they could be painted to add color and a personal touch.Traditions are born in the hope of all women for their envisioned wedding day.


Traditions are born in the hope of all women for their envisioned wedding day. How can they be used today in destination weddings to the Riviera Maya? Although today this tradition has died in many cultures there is still some much emotion in creating a virtual hope chest before the wedding, such as buying the things you will need for not only the wedding but for your new life as a married woman.


A well-known tradition that has survived these days are the “something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue”, which is also portable and can easily be brought to your wedding here in Playa del Carmen, Cancun, or Tulum.  Another tradition is to bring the photos of the relatives who cannot be there, whether they are deceased or cannot make the trip to your destination wedding in the Mexican Caribbean.

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Make me a part of your tradition and memory of your whimsical wedding adventure by allowing me and my team create the fantasy from your childhood through bridal hair and makeup.  The photos from your day will be a tradition and memory in your family forevermore.

-Doranna De Bortoli & Team



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