Vintage bridal dresses on display - FOX 13 News

Vintage bridal dresses on display

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Here comes the bride! And she's wearing some of the coolest vintage wedding dresses from the late 1800s through the Great Depression.

It's a new exhibit at Heritage Village in Largo, featuring antique wedding gowns dating from the Victorian Era through the 1930s. They are scheduled to be on display from Wednesday, May 29 to Sunday, Aug. 4th.

Favorite vintage wedding gowns from Heritage Village's permanent collection will be on display in the parlors of the House of Seven Gables during regular half-hour tours. Before the white wedding gown was popularized by Queen Victoria in 1840, believe it or not, black and brown were popular wedding dress colors for women in America.

Most women couldn't afford to have a dress made just for a wedding or to buy one for just one occasion, so most American women in the late 1800s selected their best dress, then embellished it with trims and lace. And if they were truly thrifty, they could re-use the dress after the wedding as well.

To help promote the exhibit, the program, "Portrait of a Bride: An Evolving Silhouette" is scheduled for Saturday, June 8 at 1 p.m. in the Magnolia Room of Pinellas County Parks and Conservation Resources, located at 12520 Ulmerton Road in Largo. The program will focus on the ever-evolving history of the American bride from the 1890s to the present as told through 25 to 40 vintage and contemporary wedding gowns.

You can also learn about the origins of some wedding traditions we practice today. Back as far as times when making noise was supposed to ward off evil spirits, music has been a part of the wedding ceremony. Flowers were a sign of a girl's virtue. Orange blossoms stood for fruitfulness, baby's breath for fertility and when did we get so many bridesmaids? That's a more recent phenomenon, as the bride surrounds herself with loving family and friends, to help her prepare for her big day.

But remember those hideous bridesmaids dresses, so the bride always looked amazing? Well, those days are gone too.

"A lot of brides will fall in love with the $350 dress and they will just end up contributing to help out their bridesmaids, where the bridesmaids have a dress they can wear to your wedding and then pair it with a long necklace and some great flip flops, and wear it to the beach or on their honeymoon, or island vacation," said Molly Warfel James with Bella Bridesmaid in Tampa.

"This is not something you're going to regret looking at later?," we asked. "No, absolutely not! The colors are gorgeous, the styles are gorgeous," said James.

"I think every designer sort of looks to the past, to try and take inspiration for what they're doing right now. But there's always elements of vintage style, with any of these dresses," said James. "You can see elements of the 20s, the elegance with the lines. Then, there are more 60s, sort of the flowy ruffles and things, and sort of that preppy 50s look, with the more tailored, structured looks."

Through her collection, Leigh Anne Brown shares the stories of different wedding gowns and their importance in American history. Substantial emphasis is given to the social, economic and political events that surround each bride in her day and textiles used as influenced by the times in which the gowns were created.

The program is a fundraiser for the Pinellas County Historical Society and all proceeds will benefit Heritage Village. Tickets are on sale now in the Heritage Village gift shop; open Wednesday through Saturday, from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. A $10 entry fee includes entry into the program, cake and refreshment beverage. Limited seating is available; tickets must be purchased before day of program. For more information, contact the Pinellas County Historical Society at (727) 582-2233.

Videos about Heritage Village may be viewed on YouTube ( Audio descriptions of the historical structures can be accessed on the Heritage Village website.

Heritage Village is located at 11909 125th St. N. in Largo. This living history museum brings more than 150 years of local history to life. Tour 28 authentic buildings and structures, and experience historical Pinellas County through hands-on exploration. Paths wind through 21 acres and connect with the Florida Botanical Gardens and the Florida Gulf Coast Center for Fishing and Interactive Museum.

Heritage Village is open Wednesday to Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday, 1 to 4 p.m.


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