Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

A final look at weddings in Steele County, Part III May 5, 2016

A groom's jacket from

A groom’s jacket from 1897.

 

WHAT ABOUT THE GROOMS? I wondered as I toured the Wedding Traditions of Steele County exhibit at the Steele County History Center in Owatonna.

 

Look at the fabulous detail on the back of this bridal gown.

Look at the fabulous detail on the back of this bridal gown.

 

Among the nearly two dozen bridal gowns displayed, I noticed only two dresses complimented by groom’s attire. What’s with that? I figured I knew the reason. Char Ost, a volunteer who helped with the project, confirmed my suspicions. The museum simply doesn’t have groom’s clothing in its collection (other than those displayed and some military uniforms) because the men continued to wear their suits after their weddings.

Makes sense.

 

The bride wore a blue grey wool suit at her 1944 wedding.

The bride wore a practical blue grey wool suit at her 1944 wedding.

 

I really enjoyed this exhibit. It gave me insights on how world events and the economy and personal wealth (or lack thereof) and tradition shaped weddings.

 

This dress had the longest train of all those on display.

This dress had the longest train of all those on display.

 

Here’s one final look at this exhibit from my perspective. You may notice things I didn’t if you were to view this display at the Steele County History Center. And that’s the beauty of a collective historical display. We each bring our own backgrounds, our own interests, our own experiences to an exhibit.

 

My favorite headpiece is this lovely hat worn by a bride in 1923.

My favorite headpiece is this lovely hat worn by a bride in 1923.

 

A crown headpiece, probably from the 1950s (I don't recall).

A crown headpiece, probably from the 1950s (I don’t recall).

 

Hair prep essentials.

Hair prep essentials.

 

Imagine fitting your feet into these tiny boots and then attempting to lace them.

Imagine stuffing your feet into these tiny boots and then attempting to lace them.

 

Vintage portraits are part of the exhibit, helping to tell the wedding story.

Vintage portraits are part of the exhibit, helping to tell the wedding story.

 

Look at the beautiful hardanger on this 1909 wedding gown.

Look at the beautiful hardanger on this 1909 wedding gown. Simply stunning in handmade simplicity.

 

FYI: To read my previous posts in this three-part series, click here. And then click here.

© Copyright 2016 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

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18 Responses to “A final look at weddings in Steele County, Part III”

  1. Marneymae Says:

    Omigoodness, that blue dress from the 40’s is gorgeous!
    I appreciate the handwork of the hat. That it shows the hands that made it. That time & care went into crafting it.
    Even the more simple groom’s clothing is nice. I don’t know the style name, but it seems both comfortable & elegant & not too fancy all at the same time.

  2. Beth Ann Says:

    Such a great exhibit. I think you would love the current exhibit at the Biltmore that I shared earlier—it is right up your alley. Thanks for a tour of someplace I can’t visit right now.

  3. I have enjoyed this series so much – beautiful captures – thanks again for sharing 🙂 Your shoe comment made me think of my bridesmaids having to help me buckle my sandals since I could not really get down there amongst all the layers and fluff to do it myself – ha! Happy Day – Enjoy!

    • I’m glad you enjoyed this exhibit as much as I did.

      I love that you wore sandals. And what a great story about the bridesmaids. By the time our wedding dance started, I kicked off my ballet flats that were pinching my toes. Enough of that uncomfortableness.

    • I would love to see the bridesmaids fashions throughout the years. By the Reception I switched into Isotoner slippers.

      • I mentioned that to Char Ost, whom I interviewed for this series. I suggested another exhibit, Wedding Traditions of Steele County II.

        Several years ago we had a wedding anniversary theme at our annual family reunion. I asked cousins to bring bridesmaids dresses, some of which were modeled. Everyone voted for their favorite. It was fun to see the styles and colors.

      • What a Fun Theme for a Family Reunion! I would be hard pressed since I have never been asked to be a bridesmaid. The 90’s fashions were a little out there – some of my high school girlfriends married in the mid-to-late 90’s.

      • The reunion was themed around celebrating the fictional wedding anniversary of my cousin Jeff and his fictional wife, Janet. One year on April Fool’s Day, Jeff sent a fake announcement to his parents, announcing his “marriage.” My aunt and uncle fell for the ruse and it is the stuff of family lore. So we decided to shower Jeff with gifts and even had anniversary cake for him at the reunion. Thus all of the wedding themed activities. To this day he remains a bachelor.

  4. Jackie Says:

    Loved your 3 part series on wedding wear and traditions. I sometimes wish I was from a different era…I think I could have wore some of those beautiful gowns. My gown was the high neck line and long lace sleeves, I look back now and think…”not flattering”! My Son Brice was in his cousins wedding and the their suits were all hand made and tailored to their body. My son then wore that very suit on his wedding day, and still wears it on special occasions.

    • I know precisely the style you describe because I wore the exact same style of wedding dress.

      Wow, a tailored suit. That really makes sense. I bet Brice looked dashing.

      • Jackie Says:

        It’s a very dapper suit indeed. At the time my nephew (the groom) was quite wealthy and he paid $1000 for each of his groomsmans hand tailored suits. There is even a tag on the inside of the neck with Brice’s name on it…. crazy young kids now days 🙂

      • That is a lot of money for a suit. But then brides spend a lot on gowns they only wear once. In that respect, the price for the tailored suit sounds more reasonable.

  5. Sue Ready Says:

    I really enjoyed your photographic tour of wedding attire through the decades. Your lens gave sharp images of details on the wedding attire. And yes the attire was so reflective of the times. i did note that to fit into most of these dresses one needed a very thin waist. My how body shapes have changed. Your three part posts made me feel like I had been right at the exhibit. Thanks and on another note enjoy your Mother’s Day and extra special now being a new grandma.

    • You are right in nothing that tiny waist was needed to fit into most of the dresses. That’s why they struggled to get them onto forms, even in junior sizes.

      A Happy Mother’s Day to you also, Sue!

  6. Thank you for sharing all of these great photos. They were very interesting.


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