One of the oldest known rituals, the centuries old tradition of holy matrimony, has been ever-evolving through the years.
Cultural influences and family customs bind bride and groom tying the knot and the history behind the ceremony sheds light into an important stage in the lives joined.
The Bartow History Museum examines the history of wedding customs and traditions in a temporary exhibit that opens March 28, at 6:30 p.m., with a reception and special program.
To Have and To Hold: Wedding Customs and Traditions features information and items from wedding ceremonies throughout the years.
Museum director Trey Gaines said several pieces in the exhibit are from local weddings and much of the information comes from the museum’s archives and collections.
“We have a great collection of wedding dresses and other objects representing weddings, including accessories, gifts, and books,” Gaines said. “We want people to come and see the exhibit and explore traditions associated with weddings.”
Among the collection is a dress from a wedding dating back to the 1850s made from sugar sacks, illustrating the use by some brides of readily available materials to make their wedding dress. The exhibit also contains video and pictures. Museum archives assistant Sandy Moore said the exhibit helps usher in the unofficial start to the wedding season.
“Everybody loves a wedding,” Moore said. “This is a good way to see some vintage wedding material and learn something new. It’s also a great way to exhibit some items from our collection and archives that are not on permanent display.”
A unique feature of the exhibit is a section dedicated to Tom Thumb Weddings.
Inspired by Charles Stratton, a little person who found fame with P.T. Barnum, and his marriage to Lavinia Warren in 1863, , the weddings featured children showcased as a wedding party — complete with bride, groom, bridesmaids, groomsmen and minister. Gaines said the mock weddings often were staged by schools or churches for fun or as fundraisers.
To Have and to Hold runs through Aug. 31 and can be viewed during museum hours Monday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $5.50 for adults and $4.50 for seniors and students.
Information: www.bartowhistorymuseum.org or (770) 382-3818.