Our Ypsilanti museum has over 30 wedding dresses. Most have enough information to know who wore them and when. Unfortunately the information on some has been misplaced or was never recorded over the years, Several of the dresses are on display this summer in the museum. Six are over 100 years old but in remarkable condition.
Before 1900 most of the wedding dresses were not white as is expected in this century. The average woman chose a garment she could wear many times after the wedding to everyday and special events. The oldest dress owned by the museum is made from dark printed cotton with a hand made lace collar. Cotton can be laundered many times, if done carefully. We washed it here very carefully for the present display, and it was really soiled. The colors are still bright and the fabric still in good shape. This wedding dress was used by Marian Hortense Ely Riggs for her 1850 wedding. She lived only 10 years after the wedding but her dress was preserved and given to the museum by Marian Willoughby in 1993. It is displayed in the north west corner of the museum dining room.
Also in the dining room you will see the 1884 wedding dress for Mrs. Dusbiber, Bill Dusbiber"s mother. This dress is silk and cotton and the cotton is beginning to disintegrate in the worn sections. The fabric is heavy and so is the lining for an August 4, 1884 wedding. Most dresses of the late 19th century had stays in the waist and heavy lining or tape at the hem line better known as "dust ruffles".
In the parlor Mrs. Annie Crary Glover's 1870 wedding dress is beige silk. It is made with cotton lace skirt under the reddingcoat. It was probably worn with a small bustle. The other wedding dress in the parlor is the 1902 sheer white cotton dress for the May wedding of Gladye Collins to Samuel Ballantine. This has a bib collar and lots of lace insertion and ruffles.
The craft room upstairs has the wedding dress of Sarah Ellen Good Jones in 1875. She was the wife of William Jones the president of the Normal College. This is made of gray cotton. The fabric is very durable and warm to wear.
The other wedding dresses on display are from the 20th century. The 1940 white oyster satin wedding dress in the Milliman room is made of the fabric popular then. It has a train, veil, lace rosettes with a pearl center and a zipper closing. Wedding dresses in the costume room include the off white oyster satin 1929 dress with train for Margarite Breakey. The rolled back collar is unusual. The oyster satin 1940 dress for Alexene Fox Clow has the popular sweetheart neckline. The satin 1950 dress for Mrs. Dell has what is known as a scoop neckline and the train is lined. Mrs. Fred Peter's 1938 wedding dress has applied velvet flowers. The 1970 50th Anniversary wedding dress for Rosena Schaser Warner is in the upstairs hall. The embroidery and bead work is distinctive.
If the dresses have 22" waists they are too small for the museum to display at this time. The museum attempts to rotate the display of dresses in storage.