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Happily Ever After: An Exhibit About Tying the Knot

About the Exhibit

Note: Closes Oct. 30, 2005

“Happily Ever After” explores the romance, rituals, myths and realities of weddings and commitment ceremonies across time, cultures and traditions. Learn about the fairy-tale promises, symbols and folklore of real and fictional wedding days, and leave with a fresh perspective on sacred and secular commitment.

A theatrical stage set presents one “Happily Ever After” moment frozen in time: a military-uniformed groom carrying his wartime bride across the threshold of their new 1940s home. Their future seems assured with the suggestion of a Niagara Falls honeymoon, a hope chest brimming with the bride’s linens, a dining room table laden with gifts and a double-wedding-ring quilt. The hopes and dreams of several young women – from an 1857 Scottish-Canadian bride to a contemporary Lao bride – can be imagined through their dresses and ensembles, displayed on a giant tiered wedding cake.

Sit at a linen-draped table set for a Victorian reception and watch commercial and home movie clips of popular cultural fantasies and stereotypical moments mixed with the humor and reality of courtship, proposals and wedding days. Popular wedding music of different periods creates a celebratory mood throughout the gallery.

Wedding photographs and gifts from the past 150 years will be on display, along with some of the symbols of the day – rings, garters, veils, bouquets, certificates and other “essential” accoutrements. An eclectic collection of borrowed and new cake toppers and a romantic Valentine setting will inspire couples of all ages to pose for a snapshot. References to wedding customs and folklore – with roots reaching back to Greeks and Romans, yet borrowed by couples throughout the centuries – can be found throughout the exhibit.