IT’S the big day that every little girl dreams of at some point in her life.
And of course, it’s all about the dress. A new exhibition at the South Shields Museum and Art Gallery in Ocean Road, is taking a look back at weddings over the last 100 years.
Something Old, Something New celebrates all that is magical about weddings.
On display are wedding dresses from across the generations, invitations, gifts, newspaper clippings and photographs.
Adam Bell, assistant keeper of social history for Tyne and Wear Museums and Archives, said: “Weddings are something that everyone can relate to. Even if they haven’t been married themselves, most people have attended one. It’s a day that everyone enjoys.”
He added: “Looking through our archives, we realised that we had a lot of beautiful wedding dresses, and it would have been a shame to keep them locked away.
“We’re expecting this exhibition to be very popular, and hopefully it’s something that everyone will enjoy coming to see.”
The exhibition also looks at some of the high-profile weddings throughout history, including the Royal wedding of Prince Charles and Diana Spencer, and the celebrity weddings of Ashley and Cheryl Cole and the Beckhams.
Pointing out his favourite items on display, Adam chose a portrait of Emerson Muschamp Bainbridge, founder of Bainbridge’s department store. Adam said: “The reason we’ve got this portrait on display is because Mr Bainbridge used to allow his employees one night a week off work for courting purposes.
“I think it’s interesting that back in the 19th century, a shop owner would allow his staff time off work to basically find a wife or husband.”
Adam also pointed out a pair of pyrex jugs and a pyrex casserole dish, which were bought from Binns in Sunderland on April 9, 1941.
Adam said: “These items were left in the shop overnight to be collected the next day, but unfortunately there was a terrible bombing raid that night and the shop was destroyed.
“Luckily, a friend of the couple was a manager there and actually managed to get into the store and rescue the jugs and dish from the rubble. They’re made of glass but were still intact. It’s amazing.”
The exhibition also looks at weddings across different cultures, like Chinese, South Asian and Persian.
The oldest item on display is a Chinese wedding outfit from 1900.
More unusual items on display include movie props like Star Wars lightsabers and alien cakes, used in the wedding of a Newcastle couple who appeared on BBC3’s Don’t Tell The Bride, as well as divorce greetings cards.
Adam said: “We wanted to celebrate all kinds of weddings. I think it’s interesting to look at how different the ceremony is in different countries – each culture has its own traditions.
“Jewish weddings are performed underneath a kind of Gazebo called a chuppah, and we’ve got one set up, and underneath it there’s a table with kosher wine and a silver goblet as well as the traditional glass that the couple stand on during the ceremony. It’s very interesting to look at the different things that different people do, and of course, we felt it was important to represent all different types of weddings.”
The exhibition uses real-life wedding stories of people from around the North East, some of whom came forward after an appeal in the Gazette’s Cookson Country column.
The boards include wedding pictures and stories about the couples. Among them is the story of a gay couple who had a civil partnership.
Headphones are also available for people to listen to the stories of people who have tied the knot over the years.
Interactive games invite people to guess the year that weddings took place judging by the photographs and also complete wedding outfits.
A TV screen will also show wedding photos supplied by local people on their big days from the last 100 years.
Something Old, Something New is on display at South Shields Museum and Art Gallery in Ocean Road.
Entry is free, and the museum is open from 10am to 5pm on weekdays and 11am to 4pm on Saturday.
It runs until September.