Weddings Galore!

Press speculation about Kate Middleton’s wedding dress reached fever-pitch in April. It was designed by Sarah Burton, creative director of fashion house Alexander McQueen, and was described as the most eagerly awaited fashion moment of the decade.

Within 24 hours of the Royal Wedding the first high-street replica of the French lace and ivory satin gown was complete, and the original dress will soon be going on public display to showcase the craftsmanship that went into it.

Women around the world treasure their wedding dresses, and those who don’t pass their dresses on to friends and relatives often like to donate them to museums for prosperity. As a result TWAM now has around 150 wedding dresses in collection.

In fact, we have such a vast assortment of wedding dresses that we don’t usually accept them as gifts from members of the public. Recently, however, we were offered two wedding outfits that were so interesting and diverse we couldn’t turn them down!

The first dates from the 1880s – a time when many working class women still wore practical and reusable outfits for their weddings, rather than special-occasion dresses. As you can see, this fact doesn’t make the outfit any less impressive. This beautiful two-piece wedding suit was even featured on Antiques Roadshow in January 2011.

Two-piece wedding suit from the1880s

Brown wedding suit with glass bead embellishment c. 1880. Accession no. TWCMS: 2011.921

The brown silk and cotton suit consists of a long skirt and a tightly fitted, high collared jacket. The jacket is boned and mainly hand-sewn with hook-eye fastenings down the centre front. It has also been embellished with glass beading detail.

Wedding suit jacket c.1880s

Front of 1880s bridal suit jacket, showing orange, yellow and brown beading and pointed cuffs. Accession no. TWCMS: 2011.921.1

Back of wedding suit jacket c.1880s

Back of 1880s bridal jacket highlighting high, nipped waist and voluminous shoulder design. Accession no. TWCMS: 2011.921.1

1880s wedding jacket lining

The 1880s silk jacket is lined with floral cotton fabric and embedded with corsetry boning. Accession no. TWCMS: 2011.921.1

The second outfit is a cream empire line wedding dress from the 1960s with a round neck, long sleeves and a ribbon-tie waist. It falls above the knee, is homemade, and has an interesting matching bonnet rather than a traditional wedding veil.

Wedding dress c. 1960s

Homemade wedding dress from 1960s. Accession no. TWCMS: 2011.922.1

Back of wedding dress c.1960s

Back of 1960s cream wedding dress showing satin ribbon waist tie. Accession no. TWCMS: 2011.922.1

Bride in wedding dress c. 1960s

Photograph of bride in 1960s dress and bonnet on her wedding day. Accession no. TWCMS: 2011.922.1. Photograph courtesy of Mrs Andrews.

The dress was made by the bride’s mother from a Vogue bridesmaid dress design, as the bride favoured the shorter style.

1960s Vogue bridal design

Vogue bridal design pack from the 1960s. Accession no. TWCMS: 2011.923

If you would like to find out more about wedding outfits and traditions from past to present then look out for Sarah Cotton’s upcoming “Something Old, Something New” exhibition, which will open at South Shields Museum and Art Gallery in April 2012.

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