Photo by Heather Middleton
By Joel Hall
Throughout the month of June, Stately Oaks Plantation will focus on the traditions and customs of weddings. "Romantic Memories of Yesteryear: 1830-1869," an exhibit taking place at Stately Oaks during the month of June, will take visitors through the clothing, etiquette, and attitudes of people entering the sacred bonds of matrimony in the mid-19th century.
Starting in June, Stately Oaks also will offer special bridesmaid luncheons, and teas, to women preparing to walk down the aisle. Takers will have the chance to be served a full lunch with a romantically-themed chocolate dessert, as well as a guided tour of the "Romantic Memories of Yesteryear: 1830-1869" exhibit.
Martha Wilson, a volunteer docent at Stately Oaks and an expert on 19th-century clothing, said many traditions, such as wedding bouquets, veils, and white wedding gowns, became solidified in the mid-1800s during the Victorian era. She said the exhibit will talk about traditions, as well courting rituals.
"There was a great deal of change from one end of that period to another," Wilson said. "In the 1830s, it became common for brides, or bridesmaids, to carry flowers. In the 1840s, the tradition of wearing a wedding veil became more common. After Queen Victoria's wedding in 1840, the tradition of the white wedding dress became very common for the people who could afford it. Sometimes, they might buy a special dress for the occasion, but it was something they would wear over, and over, again. "June has become the traditional month of weddings because in the ancient days of the Romans. June was named after Juno, the Roman goddess of households and marriages," she added. "It's an interesting topic, and we thought other people might be interested in learning about it."
Among other topics to be addressed during the exhibit, according to Wilson, will be the history of pearls, the history of wedding rings and wedding invitations, the significance and origins of wedding cakes and flowers, the type of items traditionally found in a woman's 'trousseau,' traditions for the groom, and the significance of the 'courtship candle.'
The exhibit will feature several authentic 19th-century wedding dresses, as well as several reproductions cut from traditional patterns.
According to Historical Jonesboro/Clayton County, Inc. President and Stately Oaks Director Barbara Emert, there will be a special bridesmaids luncheons. For the cost of $25, a bride and her party will be able to get a salad, an entree, with two vegetables, and a dessert, in the Bethel Schoolhouse on the Stately Oaks property 100 Carriage Lane at Jodeco Road.
"We offer lunch tours for groups all the time," however, "our caterer is going to offer a menu that you would typically think about when you think about love," Emert said. "It won't be the emphasis on southern foods that we usually have. We think it's [the Bethel Schoolhouse] is an attractive place. I think gives you more of a feeling that this is a very special event, and a very private event."
For $18, brides will be able to have a bridesmaid tea, as well as a tour of the Romantic Memories of Yesteryear exhibit. Evening rehearsal dinners also may be able to be scheduled for $32 per person.
Tours of the Romantic Memories of Yesteryear exhibit will take place from June 1 through June 30, between the hours of 10 a.m. and 3 p.m., Monday through Saturday. For more information about group size requirements and booking for the bridesmaid luncheons and teas, call (770) 473-0197, or go online to or go online to Statelyoaks@historicaljonesboro.org.