Penny Wedding Reel

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PENNY WEDDING REEL. Scottish, Reel. D Minor. Standard tuning (fiddle). AAB. Composed by Nathaniel Gow (1763-1831). A ‘penny wedding’ is one in which the guests all contribute a dish for the after-ceremony celebration, or one in which the guests all contribute something to the new couple to defray the cost of the festivities.

The Penny Wedding, 1818. By Sir David Wilkie (1785-1841). The fiddler at left is a likeness of Niel Gow (1727-1807).

John Grant writes in The Penny Wedding (1836, p. 2)

It was not an uncommon sight to witness from three to four hundred persons present at a penny wedding, enjoying themselves, alternately eating, drinking and dancing; and as every man paid for what he eat and drank, besides contributing his share towards the remuneration of the fiddlers, and as the ceremonies connected with the wedding lasted four days, the profits on the articles supplied to such large concourses of people were a great acquisition to young couples, who married for love and had little to begin the world with, putting thme in possession of a sum varying from ten to thirty pounds, according to the estimation in which they were held by their friends and acquaintances.

Source for notated version:

Printed sources: Carlin (The Gow Collection), 1986; No. 311. Gow (Fifth Collection of Strathspey Reels), 1807; p. 13.

Recorded sources:

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