More than any other month of the year, June has always been the most popular month to get married. In true fashion, the Gardner Historical Museum has chosen this month to display its bridal exhibit.
The exhibit consists of wedding dresses donated for display by local residents. The oldest dress dates back to 1894 and is made of flour sacks. The newest dress in the collection is from the early 1990s. Some of the dresses include a wedding picture of when the dress was worn. The exhibit also displays jewelry worn on the special days, and marriage licenses from past generations.
This is the second year the Gardner Historical Museum has produced the bridal exhibit.
“We received such a great response last year, so it’s back by popular demand,” Shirley Brown-VanArsdale, the president of the Gardner Historical Museum Board, said.
Connie Wright and Sharon Kramer volunteered more than five hours to set up the display. The pair, sisters, have been volunteering at the museum for the past couple of years. They have decorated the museum in the past for Christmas, and other special occasions.
“We really enjoy doing it,” Kramer said.
She explained it can be difficult finding people to donate older bridal dresses, “because women didn’t have money to purchase a special dress in the past, and also many of them have deteriorated and fallen apart over the years.”
One of Kramer’s favorite gowns is the dress Eileen Hertzler of Gardner wore.
“Her dress had been in a box and under her bed for over 40 years, and she pulled it out last year for the exhibit, and it is in immaculate condition,” Kramer explained.
Some of the local residents of Gardner who have donated dresses for this year’s exhibit are Pat Rankin, Donna Pearce, Connie Mayberry-Green, Pat Cloud, Karen Casey, and Lynn Davis.
“The Bridal Exhibit is something different for the museum and everyone has really enjoyed it. Setting the exhibit up is our favorite thing to do at the museum for my sister and I,” Kramer said.
The house the museum calls home was built in 1893 by Herman B. Foster, co-owner of Gardner’s Bigelow-Foster Mercantile Store of the 1890s. It is an excellent portrayal of Victorian architecture and was one of the finer homes in Gardner at the time.
The museum has included in the exhibit an article clipping from the June 21, 1900 edition of the Gardner Gazette, which reported about a wedding which took place at the house. Foster’s niece was married at the residence on June 14, 1900.
The article describes the flowers and how the bride, “entered the parlor and was attired in a gown of rich brocaded white satin and carried bride’s roses.”
A cake was enjoyed by the guests following the ceremony. It was custom at the time for a ring along with a button to be baked inside of the cake. When the cake was cut, whoever was fortunate to receive the ring in their piece was to be granted good luck for the year, and whoever received the button was deemed with bad luck.
The Bridal Exhibit is on display until the end of June at the Gardner Historical Museum. Museum hours are from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday and from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Friday evenings. For more information or to donate a dress for next year, please call (913) 856-4447 or visit the Gardner Historical Museum’s website at www.gardnerhistory museum.org