Call me old fashioned - go on, I am - but I can't help liking the idea of a dowry. Not the bribe to catch a husband with, but the type of dowry made of textiles to fill a new home, crafted by a young woman with the skills taught by her mother and local community. I like the idea of setting aside your best handmade pieces to share with somebody.
I've never been to the Marshfield School of Weaving in Vermont, but I would like to. They've got classes in natural dyeing, spinning, and weaving household goods to start with. They also have a weaving intensive devoted to 19th century dowry textiles - how amazing would that be!?
This reminds me to 1) learn how to weave and 2) recommendThe Age of Homespun by Laurel Thatcher Ulrich.