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Bellingham Bulletin

Lovely Mystery Day of Shared Memories & More Held at Senior Center

Jan 29, 2018 06:00AM ● Published by Pamela Johnson

This photo, depicting wedding fashions from 91 years ago, was just one piece of memorabilia of the many on display

It was the luck of winter: a freezing, windy, snow-covered day, but people came bearing their wedding photos, wedding gowns and charming stories that warmed the heart. The event was sponsored by the Bellingham Cultural Council in conjunction with the Bellingham Senior Center and monetary support from the Massachusetts Cultural Council.

Linda Trudeau, Bellingham Arts Director and chairperson of the Bellingham Cultural Council, said, “I thought the program would offer local history of what was worn by brides in this area from the early 1900s to the present, by our grandparents, our parents, ourselves and our children.”

The pictures were a living history of the different styles leading up to today’s looks in wedding attire. Some wore their Sunday best, lovely suits, shorter dresses, and long, more formal gowns. There were brocades, silks, lots of satins, and both heavy and light dresses with no trains, short trains, and long trains. Men wore suits or military uniforms and eventually formal tuxedos at times.
 
The photos were displayed for all to see, as were samples of different veils—short and long styles with bouffant veiling at the sides or on top as well as the more popular styles of the day. There were headpieces with crystals, pearls, fabric, bows, silk lilies of the valley, as well as floppy hats, crowns of flowers, and tiaras.

Some of the most popular gowns and styles that are trending today are proving that what is old can be new again, and, if you can wait long enough, history will repeat itself a lot more often than we realize. As for flowers that brides chose to carry years ago, bouquets seemed to be quite large with ribbons and embellishments and tulle.
 
“Today we are more likely to see brides carry single flowers, small hand-held bouquets, wild flowers, or those out of a garden, as was the case during wartime,” said Trudeau. “We also see many theme-type weddings of all kinds and lavish arrangements of flowers.”

The practice of tearing a piece of the wedding gown to bring luck and fertility to an unmarried guest ended, and in place of that the bride’s flowers or a garter is thrown. Before the 1900 era gowns were not often white but colors, and it was blue that was considered the color of purity. After that date new fabrics were coming on the market and softer, less-heavy materials.

In 1840, when Queen Victoria married Prince Albert, myrtle was in the flowers she carried; every royal bride has had it in her bouquet ever since. It is considered the herb of love. Have you put a penny in your shoe? Did you borrow something blue? Did it rain on your special day, a sign of good luck? All of these superstitions go back many years and are still in practice.
 One story from a member of the BCC was about her girlfriend going to the annual clearance sale for wedding gowns at Filene’s Basement in Boston. The bride-to-be was working and could not go, so the friend, who had great taste and knew the bride-to-be’s size, bought her gown, which fit perfectly and was beautiful; and the gown and photo were present to prove it. The cost of the gown—$25.00!

Adding to the day were musical selections in keeping with the theme; then local WNRI 1380-AM and 95.1-FM radio personality and popular vocalist Jeff Gamache provided the entertainment with an impressive musical program.
 
There were lots of laughs as many walked down memory lane once again. Someone once said that wonderful memories are like the paradise of the mind. So make sure to come to the next Bellingham Cultural Council program; it will be worth your time and effort. Check out all of the programs at the Bellingham Senior Center; there are many for you to enjoy.
In Print, Seniors, Life+Leisure, Community In the February 2018 print edition
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