It might have been three years in the planning, but according to residents of St. Mary of the Woods, it was worth the wait. The event was titled “Wedding Fashion and Fun,” and included not only a fashion show, but also games such as “Famous Couples in History Trivia” and the “Not-So-New Newlywed Game.”
In addition to the gowns and games, there were more than 50 photographs of residents’ gowns – most in nostalgic black and white. Finally, and the highlight of the afternoon, there were memories – lots of them.
This first-time event was hosted by Robin Hanna, director of life enrichment, and Cindy Kilgore, assistant to life enrichment director, and included more than 40 residents from St. Mary of the Woods Independent Living, Assisted Living and Nursing Center.
In saving the best for last, when the white runner was finally rolled out, it was all about the gowns.
There were 12 wedding gowns in total, five of which belonged to the residents and seven that were from families of the staff. Kilgore said that the oldest gown was from 1910 and that because they were so petite, they had to be modeled by the daughters of the staff – who were 10 to 14 years old.
Monica Gorris said one of the girls wore her dress and that she was “tickled to see everyone there.” She also said the “photos were great; everything went swimmingly.”
Eileen Gallagher thought it was “quite a presentation” and fondly noted that her dress stayed in the family.
“Two of my daughters wore my dress,” Gallagher said. “They got it altered.”
Many residents, such as Gertrude Berry, spent some of the afternoon reminiscing about her own wedding.
“I was always late for everything, and my husband said that if I was late to the wedding he wouldn’t be there,” she said.
With the pressure on, she nearly panicked.
“I couldn’t find my shoes, my mom had put them on the shelf; I had to wear my friend’s shoes,” Gertrude said.
When one of the other residents asked if she made it there on time, she smiled and said, “You bet I did!”
Morris, who was married for 32 years, affectionately recalled the surprising manner in which her husband proposed to her. “He asked me if I wanted to go to Europe, and when I said yes, he said, ‘OK, but we have to get married first.’”
While residents enjoyed the event, it was not without mixed emotions. “I was really happy with the event, but also kind of sad,” said Rosemary Burkhardt, who had been married for 59 years. “My husband has been gone three years and that still makes me sad.”
Other residents explained how different weddings are today. Helen Dzurec recalled that she had a nice church wedding around 9:30 in the morning and that they did not have the reception until the evening.
“We used the lunch hour to take pictures; I wore my dress all day,” she said.
Craig Sutton, who was married for 56 years and was one of the few men who attended, proudly said he and his wife-to-be financed their own wedding and that she baked the wedding cake.
“It was a fruit cake,” he said. “We had to borrow pans from the local bakery.”
Residents had a chance to win party favors in the “Favorite Couples in History Trivia” game. The game focused on famous couples from the 1940s and 1950s, quizzing residents on who celebrities were married to, and the circumstances of their marriages.
The “Not-So-New Newlywed Game” was a favorite among residents.
When asked about that game, Rita Connelly laughed and said, “In the car!”
“I enjoyed the questions they asked the couples, but the answer was often ‘in the car’ – when asked where they were proposed to, or where their first kiss was,” Connelly said. She found it funny because “the answers were the same for me. That’s what we did in those days, went for a ride.”