Sunday, May 13, 2018

Wedding Dresses at Howell Farm

I know the rain and temperature plummet in New Jersey thwarted the plans my family made for me today. Who wants to go for a bike ride when it is 52 degrees, cloudy, and threatening rain when only a couple of days ago it was in the 70s, sunny, with low humidity? Change of plans. Time to look for something indoors to do. 

Yesterday I went to Howell Living History Farm for their two-day pop up exhibit of wedding gowns. Docent Kim hoped she could gather about 15 gowns to put on display. She asked everyone who works there, and the Friends of Howell Farm, and ended up with over 30 dresses dating from 1890 (found when someone donated farm equipment) to 2016. 

Of course not every year is represented. There is a sizable gap from about 1915 to the 1930's Kim attributes to World War I and the Depression. I wish I took note of the actual years.

In the earliest days of this collection, unless they were wealthy, women wore their Sunday best when getting married. They might have something made for the day, but it would show up again as their best dress. White was not a popular color for a wedding dress because it showed too much dirt. Women preferred ivory if they went with a light color, or light blue (seen in the church as synonymous with the Virgin Mary).

The dresses are arranged roughly chronologically. The names of the bride and groom are listed, and often a fun fact. There are also framed wedding pictures and other wedding ephemera to enjoy. As always, the exhibit is free, though they will happily accept a free will offering.

The oldest dress (1890). The little one was a flower girl dress.

If you are enjoying these pictures, check out my other posts about wedding dresses:

Grandmother's Wedding Dress on display in Columbus, OH
Mom's Wedding Dress on display at the Kuser Mansion in Hamilton, NJ

While cleaning up Honey Bunny's house I found her wedding dress in the attic. Sadly we had to toss it as it had disintegrated over the years. She sewed it herself. It was darling. However, even my inner archivist could see it could not be saved.

If you can make it today, the dresses will be on display from noon to 4. They are in the climate controlled building closest to the parking lot. If the weather holds out, you can stroll up to the farm to see the baby animals, farm house, and other sights seen on a turn-of-the-century working farm. Again, it is all free, though good will offerings are warmly accepted.

One note: the bridge near the farm has been removed. Best to approach the farm from Route 29 instead of the back way.

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