Outlander Costumes: The Wedding

Written by: Melissa Bowers


Hey everyone! So, this is my first post! A little introduction is definitely in order. By day, I am a registered mechanical engineer that designs air conditioning and plumbing systems in Phoenix, AZ. My family originally has ties to the Boston Area (WICKED PISSAH! Go Sox, and Bruins &Celtics).  My parents actually summer in Rhode Island now and winter in Phoenix! The best of both worlds!  In this article, I intend on sharing a unique perspective on the costumes used in Outlander and in The Wedding more specifically. I actually have a lot of experience with costumes like these and let me tell you how I know they are spot on...

About ten years ago, I started attending the Arizona Renaissance Festival here locally. At that time, my husband was selling swords and daggers for a friend. I know what it is like to carry a dagger on you, much like Claire had in Episode 8 when BJR took her dagger out to cause her harm. I also know what it is like to put a corset on and still function all day (you cannot possibly do this task by yourself. When we see Mrs. Fitz help Claire out with her clothes during the Castle Leoch episode, this is truly for real. I have an assistant known as Daniel, my husband!) Since I live in Phoenix, I have had a chance to meet HERSELF (Dr. Gabaldon) more times than the average Outlander fan would. She regularly will sign books at the Ren Fairs around the country, and she also signs books at her local bookstore, the Poisoned Pen (http://poisonedpen.com/). (Check this page out if you would like an autographed book and you are unable to attend an event!)

With all these personal experiences, I have a little bit of a different prospective on the costumes of the 14th thru the 18th centuries, because I have worn them quite a bit. You can get into character as a “playtron” at the historic festivals just by spending some money and getting some costume pieces that were worn of the era. You also do not have to break the bank to purchase these items. Mind you, I understand that there is a difference between 15th Century and 18th Century clothing, but the same elements come in play. Most people did not have very many outfits at all. A woman and a man were lucky to have two complete outfits, and it was not uncommon for the same pieces of clothing to come up in different combinations over and over again because of how scarce new clothing was (we have already seen that this season with both Claire and Jamie). The clothes were made on a loom, and it took quite a bit of time and effort for a seamstress to make a set of clothing for an individual. So you had to take care of the clothes you had, they had to last you a good long time.

Of course, the epitome of the fantastic costumes that Terry Dresbach designed for Season 1 was showcased in the Wedding Episode. This episode is by far my favorite episode of Season 1, for a LOT of reasons. Outlander was published in 1991, which means that there are fans out there that waited 23 YEARS to see the Wedding come to life. What better way to do that than through awesome costuming! 

The work that Terry did on Cait’s dress is nothing less than spectacular in this episode. She refers to the work done on Cait’s dress as being unique in the world of costumes for a number of reasons (a huge amount of research was done alone on materials that would reflect the candlelight in the kirk alone). Mica was used on the dress (a mineral formation), as they did not have sequins in the 1700s and Terry and Ron wanted the costumes as authentic as possible, to put the audience in utter FAIRY tale mode. The embroidery done on the dress hasn’t been done in over 100 years.  Working with the Mica took literally 50 hours by itself. The costume weighed 30 pounds. As such, Cait could NOT walk in this dress easily. She had a special golf cart that was rigged for her to be transported around the set in the dress. This was probably easily almost a week’s worth of work that Cait had to do with this dress on. Wow, talk about a committed actress. We already knew that. Cait, being her very humble self, gives all the credit to Terry on that one. Such is our humble CLAIRE!

Jamie’s outfit too CANNOT be underrated. We literally see Jamie for the first time as a gallant warrior, and his costuming befits this for the episode. Jamie mentions that when he saw Claire in her dress, “it was as if I stepped outside on a cloudy day, and suddenly the sun came out!” This was definitely the effect that was desired on Jamie. However, Mr. Fraser’s wardrobe was also very signficant. We finally see Jamie as a grown man, not just this little boy that tags along with his godfather and uncle! We hear Jamie utter his full name wearing his full regalia “It is Fraser, James Alexander Malcolm MacKenzie Fraser!” I love the backstory too about how he is to be married only once, and would do so in a way that would make Ellen Fraser proud (his mother). As such, the plot had Murtagh go to a Fraser widow in town to get a new kilt for the occasion.

It was definitely worth the extra effort that Murtagh went through on Jamie’s behalf. Diana says it best in the book when she refers to Jamie at the wedding. She says "A Highlander in full regalia is an impressive sight--any Highlander, no matter how old, ill-favored, or crabbed in appearance. A tall, straight-bodied, and by no means ill-favored young Highlander at close range is breath-taking.” Who are we to argue with Herself? Sam is definitely the visual imagery we are craving after reading this excerpt from the book. 

The costumes really come together well in the final love scene of the episode, aka “Encounter #3”. This is truly the first time that Jamie and Claire make love with one another. The first time was all about his virginity. The second time was about exploring Claire and being mesmerized by what happens if he does a great job, and the third time is about love. In the middle of the lotus position while running the action, we see Mrs. Fraser wrap the tartan around both of them, in a wonderful image of the two of them being together truly. Did anyone else have their TV screen melt at this point? I know I sure did!

I will be sharing more of my takes on this season regarding costumes and as well other elements and topics that Mary and Blake wish for me to tackle, and also what you the fans wish for me to tackle. As always, any feedback (both good and bad) is GREATLY appreciated. You can also find me on Facebook, Twitter, and on the Blog section of Outlander Cast. I want to thank Mary and Blake for giving me this opportunity to share my feelings on the blog. I hope this is only the beginning of something great for the Outlander Cast Blog!

Until the next blog, God Bless and CARPE DIEM!




What was your favorite costume from The Wedding or Outlander Season 1 overall?


23 comments

  1. The wedding costumes where my favourite's too but can't wait to see the red dress costume next season

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  2. Caroline,

    Thanks for your comments regarding the wedding costumes. I am also looking verra much forward to the costumes in DIA! Terry Dresbach sure has a lot of visual imagery she can pick up based on what Herself has described for the clothing in the French Court! Verra awesome comment! First comment received and responded to! Hoping to see more great comments!

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  3. Loved the post and that amazing dress - breath TAKING! Terry said in an interview that Cait is probably not a very big fan! ahah it was hard wearing it! I'm excited for next season and the infamous red dress as well. Also going from Paris and the luxury back to Scotland and Culloden will be interesting!

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  4. Yes, an amazing dress but so hard to act in or do ANYTHING in, for that matter! It will be interesting to see the contrast between the French Court of King Louis and what will be going on in Culloden! No wonder Cait was happy to spend most of Ep 7 in her shift, or in Jamie's Fraser tartan, LOL! Or in nothing much at all. Oh, she is used to it. I am sure the catwalk required the same concentration!

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  5. Aside from the wedding dress, Jamie's highland regalia for the wedding, and their wedding night shift and shirt, I really love the earthy wildness of all the highland dress, men, women, children, rich and poor, and the men (especially Jamie and Dougal) in their dashing bonnets. Love Claire and Geillis in their gowns, gloves, capelets, shawls, oh my! Don't look forward to the French frou-frou although I'm sure some it will be pretty. And both Sam and Cait said they'll be glad to get back to the wool and earthier colors.

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  6. Aside from the wedding dress, Jamie's highland regalia for the wedding, and their wedding night shift and shirt, I really love the earthy wildness of all the highland dress, men, women, children, rich and poor, and the men (especially Jamie and Dougal) in their dashing bonnets. Love Claire and Geillis in their gowns, gloves, capelets, shawls, oh my! Don't look forward to the French frou-frou although I'm sure some it will be pretty. And both Sam and Cait said they'll be glad to get back to the wool and earthier colors.

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  7. RL, I agree with what you say 100%. The work on the costumes in Season 1 was amazing. Terry is so great at what she does, and she is also great when it comes to social media. She actually replies to tweets! Yep, the French Court stuff will definitely be frou-frou! It will be an amazing contrast when they get back to Scotland and Culloden at the end of Season 2. EVERYONE is dressed in such great garb, from the laird all the way to the peasants that are being portrayed by extras. She designs the costumes for all! There was another fabolous outfit from the Wedding that I will cover in another blog soon! Having to do with Claire and a Caitriona tie-in!

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  8. As pretty as the extravagant costumes were, I would have preferred this huge part of the budget, to be spent on setting up the hot springs scene. Ron said it was too difficult, and was afraid for the actors health. Really? The only reason it was too difficult, might have been there wasn't enough money left to do it. After all, how hard could it be to set up a cave scene like the one Dougal used to stash all his Jacobite supplies? Then add a little shallow wading pool. Heat it and presto, the most important part of ending S1 The cost for this (since the cave scene was already set up) would have been a drop in the bucket versus the cost of one dress. Priorities anyone? Obviously, not for further development of Jamie's character.

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    1. I think that they could have done the awesome Wedding and the hot springs scene together if the season finale would have been in two episodes, not just one. Jamie and Claire have a very passionate relationship, and the hot springs scene ties that all together for the end of Outlander. We know that Jamie seeks to please Claire (hello, NOT A NEWS FLASH!) That part was SO HOT in the book, about loving to hear her squeaks and them being in the springs and the only reason that she didn't drown from the pleasure was because Jamie was holding her up! HOT, HOT, HOT! I hope we see some sort of makeup scene in the beginning of Season 2 since we all missed the hot spring. But I think the Wedding isn't what caused us to miss out. We needed 17 episodes for this season, and an extra episode in the Abbey with the hot spring at the very end. Even though I love the boat, it ain't the same!

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    2. I don't think budget harpooned the grotto scene. It was 'The Search'. If we only had 16 episodes to get this story told, wasting an entire episode on the dumbest section of the book was literally shooting themselves in the foot. The decision to cram the rescue and the Abby all into the final episode virtually guaranteed that the grotto scene wouldn't make the cut. Given that the Abby is relocated to Scotland and there is still the rather large threat of capture and the much more abbreviated time-line, realistically, Jamie was not about to be engaging in sexual activity of any kind in that short of a span of time after being sexually brutalized.

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  9. Very true Kendra....if we can only have 16 episodes, you cut all but the first 15 minutes of the Search, you expand on To Ransom a Man's Soul and then you go ahead and include the hot spring scene. It has to be in another hour of television than the rape scenes however. You cannot go from rape to lovemaking with Claire in the same 60 minute time period, totally agreed there. I am also happy that although they showed a lot of Mr. Fraser, we didn't see little JAMMF. If we are going to see that (like we saw little BJR), it needs to be during a time of his own free will, not while being violated.

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  10. Very true Kendra....if we can only have 16 episodes, you cut all but the first 15 minutes of the Search, you expand on To Ransom a Man's Soul and then you go ahead and include the hot spring scene. It has to be in another hour of television than the rape scenes however. You cannot go from rape to lovemaking with Claire in the same 60 minute time period, totally agreed there. I am also happy that although they showed a lot of Mr. Fraser, we didn't see little JAMMF. If we are going to see that (like we saw little BJR), it needs to be during a time of his own free will, not while being violated.

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  11. I admire the positive attitude you have for S1 and for upcoming S2. The wedding was very good and yes the sex was HOT. You are absolutely right about this episode not being the cause of leaving out the hot springs There were too many added episodes or extended and made up scenes that were unnecessary. When Ron thought the storyline arc was E6 then the real story was left behind. His main goal was reaching E15 and E16 and his belief these two and E6 were sure winners for an emmy. He left the the pinnacle of the story (Claire and Jamie at the stones)by the wayside and gave us a mere 15 minutes, while devoting 45 min to the witch trial. Ron has no intention to give us a make over for leaving out the hot springs. What he has already revealed is a depressed Jamie and a Claire left to deal with her pregnancy alone. What we will have is further history (made up) on Frank. Don't be surprised if Roger never shows up to tell Claire Jamie is alive. Frank may have that line to deliver. Hope I'm wrong on all accounts, but Ron says he is not going by the books. Sad

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  12. Woah, spoilers! Just FYI, some people haven't read the books!

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  13. Very true Kendra. Even though most of us in these blogs have read the books, I am trying to stay as spoiler free as possible for the people that are just watching the shows. I do not mind talking about the events of Season 1, but we should not be talking specifically about anyone in Season 2. Jamie Fan in Disguise, thanks for your comments (they are appreciated) but Kendra is right, we want to keep this as spoiler free as possible.

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  14. Sorry,Kendra I'm not used to responding to only show watchers Reading the books and then knowing Ron has said he gets his kicks out of shocking the readers by veering off from them, has me just a wee upset.

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    1. While I have read the first 4 books and chose to stop, I know Blake, at least, hasn't read them. I totally get your frustration! There are certain choices that he makes that leave me scratching my head.

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    2. Kendra Klasek I apologize again for the spoiler. Is there a way to edit and remove the section with it? Hopefully, before any future non-readers should run across it and be upset.

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  15. I know it gets frustrating when we canna spoil certain things. However, in a way, I am envious of the non-book readers. They have NO preconceived notions of what they want to see in Season 2 and beyond. They will want to see things based on the show, but not based on the book. We have to realize that they are doing the very best that they can with the decisions that they make. They give HERSELF the dailies and script review as well. If DG is in favor of the decisions made, that is good enough for me. BTW, I was the one that gave Kristin the bit about HERSELF being distracted by Sam's trousers during the Scottsdale book signing for the ComicCon panel. It gave everyone a good laugh. Did you notice that Sam poured Cait another drink after that was said? Coincidence, I think not!

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  16. Melissa, I totally agree that we need to trust in Ron and Company to satisfy both book and non-book readers. And yes, if Diana is happy......but there is no way I would trade my experiences in reading the books (over and over and over since the first one in the early 1990's). They have meant too much to me over the years. that said - I'd like to get back to your post and thank you for the details and insights on the costumes. Terry and her team have been amazing, and I have been so grateful that she has let us "in" to the work that has been, and is being, done on the costumes. You were so right to remind us all how incredibly beautiful The Wedding was, and how appropriate ALL the costumes have been. The amount of work involved is awesome. Thanks for reminding us, and giving us such insight.

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  17. Barbara,

    Your comments are so insightful and respectful. I do totally agree about the books. I wouldn't trade my experiences with reading the books for anything. Sometimes though, I get a little envious when it comes to those that haven't read the books and how they might interpret an episode (no preconceived notions based on the books). No matter what people say, a book reader will always have a preconceived notion of how she would like to see a scene played out. Then, the writer and the producers have to do the best they can to portray things visually in a way that will make the majority of the viewers (and the book readers) happy. It is nearly an impossible task. It is great to get the visual imagery from the book in the form of the costumes we see on the screen. Having worn some of these costumes, I have a lot of appreciation for the amount of time it takes to create these works of art, and also the extra effort it takes to still be able to act and do anything else (horseriding) and the like in the costumes. I often compare what Caitriona does with Claire to what Vivien Leigh did with Gone With The Wind. They were both in every scene in their respective projects, in cumbersome costumes and still gave great performances in parts that are both based on bestselling books were people had LOTS of pre-conceived notions about what they wanted to see. Thanks again for your kind words and for your awesome blogs!!!

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