Bridal Dresses Are More Than Satin and Lace at Oaklands Mansion


Stepping into the display of vintage wedding dresses at Oaklands Mansion’s 8th Annual Wedding Dresses Through the Decades is like traveling back in time. Not only do you see the fine craftsmanship of many handmade dresses with exquisite detail, but you will learn about the social and historical events of the time.

“I heard the behind the scenes stories [of every dress],” said Mary Beth Nevills, Education Director at Oaklands Mansion, and the coordinator of the event. “That adds a personal touch to all of them.”

The dresses on display are both from Oaklands Mansion’s personal collection, and from supporters of the museum. Each reflects its time, from the loosening of heavy boning in the early 1900s leading up to the flapperesque gowns of the 1920s to the suits worn by the brides in the post-war 1940s to the simplified dresses of the late 20th century following the lead of Carolyn Bessett when she married John F. Kennedy, Jr.

One of the dresses with a tale to tell is that worn by Pauline Herskowitz Weinerman when she married Jesse Weinerman. She bought her dress in 1929, just prior to the stock market crash and the beginning of the Great Depression. The Weinerman’s were engaged for six years while they saved up enough money to get married and pay for an apartment. The dress, a long all over-lace gown with chapel-length train and satin ruffles at the high neckline, was also worn by a number of Pauline’s friends. Like the jeans in the story The Sisters of the Traveling Pants, the gown miraculously fit many different sized women.

Another couple, Roseanne Knight Jacobs and Jimmy Jacobs, were both students at Central High School when they got married in 1961, one being 15 and the other 17. While they had permission from their families to wed so young, the school was not so happy. They were both suspended. It was quite a scandal! Now 72 and 74, they are still together.

One of the first to loan out her wedding gown for the show was Andrea Calfee. Andrea participated the first year of the event.

“My dress was on the cover of Bride’s magazine worn by Cheryl Tiegs,” said Andrea. “It was a sleeveless matte satin underdress with a voile overlay that included a long train. Light blue velveteen ribbons were at the neck, and down the front and back. My veil was elbow length with a headdress in the Russian style. My bridesmaids’ dresses had the same ribbon on their empire waist.”

Also on display are photos, accessories, and a number of bridal dolls. These dolls cover many years and styles, including that of Jacqueline Kennedy when she married John F. Kennedy, Sr.

Oaklands Mansion will offer a number of events during the exhibit, including Princess Day on February 9th, an author talk about How to Weed Your Attic: Getting Rid of Junk without Destroying History on February 19th, and Ladies’ Night on February 22nd.

The show runs from January 19 until March 3. The cost is $10 per person. A tour of the mansion in available for an additional fee.

Event Details

8th Annual Wedding Dresses Through the Decades
Oaklands Mansion
Address: 901 North Maney Avenue
Murfreesboro, TN 37130
Hours: Monday-Saturday 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Sundays 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Phone: 615-893-0022
Cost: $10