Exhibit has 400 years of wedding dresses and customs are on display in Pilgrim Hall Museum

As the summer wedding season begins, the exhibit “Wedding 396: Four Centuries of Wedding Fashion in Plymouth 1621-2016” offers an interesting and fun look behind the veil, so to speak, at the evolution of gowns and wedding behaviors. Showcasing 35 antique and vintage gowns and outfits on mannequins, the Pilgrim Hall Museum exhibit is a visual feast of silk, satin, chiffon, lace, tulle and pearls in elegant designs.

“Wedding dresses tend to be cherished and taken good care of,” said Pilgrim Hall archivist Rebecca Piccirillo. “When they’re donated, they’re usually in very good condition. There hasn’t been a display like this in a very long time.”

Drawn from collections of the Plymouth Antiquarian Society and other historical societies, each dress is identified by its owner, information about the marriage and about the significance of the materials and style.

Queen Victoria of England popularized the white gown after she wore one for her 1840 wedding, but many 19th century brides chose color after new chemical dyes created new brilliant shades.

What’s more, the idea that a wedding dress was worn on just one day is recent. Until the 20th century, brides usually expected to wear their wedding gown for other special occasions.

The earliest outfit is a production from the first couple to marry in Plymouth Colony in 1621 – 396 years ago, as referenced in the exhibit title. Susanna White, who married Edward Winslow after each of their spouses died from sickness during the colony’s first winter, wore a red wool jacket tied in the front with blue ribbons and a matching long skirt. Winslow wore a high-necked jacket and pantaloons, both in black, a symbol of status at the time.
See More: Formal Dress

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