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Event organisers Robyn Hedges and Ruth Willis will be bringing their own gowns.
“The gown I wore for my 1969 wedding was handmade by me, in New Zealand. I also made the mother-of-the-bride dress and my daughter’s wedding gown, about 21 years ago,” said Robyn.
Ruth will be exhibiting an intricately designed wedding gown of silk taffeta from 1878, which was worn by her great-grandmother Jessie Dallas nee Mathieson, at her wedding.
“It was my family’s wish that this wedding gown would be treasured and shared by the family’s future generations, and not be given to a museum,” said Ruth.
The idea for the exhibition came from the recent celebration of Ruth’s 60th wedding anniversary.
“I had a vision to bring the dresses to a younger generation, and thought an exhibition of different, older and unique gowns would be a good way to fundraise,” she said.
“It has just grown from there.”
Elena Chomic, from Lithuania, moved to Diamond Harbour 11 years ago with her husband, Georg. She is showcasing two Eastern European gowns that belong to a friend.
“These gowns were bought and transported from Ukraine in 2018 – they are both unique and cultural to the urban wedding gown fashion in the mid-20th century,” said Elena.
“Eastern European women used designed costumes for different occasions such as festivals, but the wedding gown was more decorated, interesting, and special.”
She said the history of the gowns is special, as they were handmade by the mother and grandmother together for the bride.
“The first gown was made for more than $1000. The second gown is more plain and simple, but it is also handmade, with little beads,” she said.
Elena will also be showcasing wedding ornaments and decorations from Lithuania, Romania and Ukraine.
The exhibition will include a 60-year-old horseshoe, an old-fashioned garter, dolls, top hats, walking sticks, a glory box, and linen and floral arrangements.
“People who travel from Europe have different wedding traditions than that of New Zealand; they often have made a special towel – which is used for bread,” said Elena.
“I am happy to show the gowns, especially to my friends and family who have also immigrated to New Zealand, as they are a part of my history, heritage and culture.”
The exhibition also features a designer gown.
Said Robyn: “We also have a Laura Ashley dress, a dress from 1912 and another from the 1920s, and a black wedding gown.”
All funds raised from Wedding Dresses through the Ages will go to the medical centre to progress with the planned extension of the building.
To learn more, visit www.diamondharbourhealthsupport.org.nz or call Gay Pavelka on 0272211128.
The support group also has a Givealittle page set up to receive donations called Diamond Harbour and Districts Community Medical Centre Expansion.
- Wedding Gowns through the Ages will be held at St Andrews Church Hall, 85 Marine Drive on Friday, October 6, and Saturday, October 7, from 10am-4.30pm, and on Sunday, October 8, from noon-4pm. The $10 admission includes free tea, coffee and home-baking.
By Sasha Watson