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Melinda Martinez/The Town Talk "Alexandria Afire!" opened with a ball on the grounds of Kent Plantation House Friday. -05/11/07
Melinda Martinez/mmartinez@thetowntalk.com



Tia Owens-Powers / tpowers@thetowntalk.com Daniel Cockrell a guide at Arkansas Old State House Museum in Little Rock represents an 1830-40's father of the bride as Kent House Tour Guide Emily Rose walks down the front steps of the house in an 1840's style wedding dress during a reenactment of "Weddings in Time" at Kent House on Saturday, April 28, 2007.


Tia Owens-Powers/ The Town Talk Daniel Cockrell a guide at Arkansas Old State House Museum in Little Rock represents an 1830-40's father of the bride as Kent House Tour Guide Emily Rose (left) and Developmental Director Elizabeth Smith represent brides from the 1840's and 30's respectively walk down the front steps of the house in a reenactment called "Weddings in Time" at Kent House on Saturday, April 28, 2007.

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Kent Plantation House, Alexandria, Louisiana

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Tia Owens-Powers/ The Town Talk A crowd of visitors stands to welcome the brides during a reenactment of an 1830 and 1840 style wedding called "Weddings in Time" at Kent House on Saturday, April 28, 2007


Tia Owens-Powers / The Town Talk Father Chad Partain stands in front of the two couples representing fashions from the 1830's (left) and 1840's (right) during the "Weddings in Time" reenactment at Kent House on Saturday, April 28, 2007.



Father Chad Partain uses his stole to bless the intertwined hands of the couple in the marriage fashion of the 1830's as "Bride" Elizabeth Smith and "Groom" Jason Leatherman wear period clothing during "Weddings in Time" a reenactment at Kent House on Saturday, April 28, 2007.



Tia Owens-Powers / The Town Talk Lauren Hill (right) and William Watson (second from right) stand as witnesses in 1830 style dress during the "Weddings in Time" reenactment at Kent House on Saturday, April 28, 2007.


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Welcome to The Town Talk Alexandria-Pineville, Louisiana

http://thetowntalk.com/apps/pbcs.dll/frontpage

1800s weddings
Kent House celebrates Victorian-era ceremonies
By Bill Sumrall
bsumrall@thetowntalk.com
(318) 487-6417

Kent Plantation House employees and volunteers decked out in 1830s and 1840s period clothing recreated a Victorian era wedding Saturday.

Except for the 17 or so audience members dressed in 21st century clothing, some snapping photographs with digital cameras, the scene might have come straight out of a 19th century Dickens novel.

"We just like to show off the different costumes" and the different look in wedding dresses only 10 years apart in time, said Elizabeth Smith, a Kent House employee who portrayed "Mme. Louisiane Geautee," one of the two brides. Smith wore a light green dress in the 1830s style plus a woman's hat appropriate to the time period.

The other bride, "Mme. Ecrevisse de Beignet," wore an 1840s white dress, Smith said, noting that the color white for weddings grew in popularity after Queen Victoria wore white to her wedding. Prior to that, Smith said the only requirement was that the wedding dress be the bride's "best dress," which women of the 1800s continued to wear as a functional piece of their wardrobe after the wedding.

Among the re-enactors were Ian Beard, 27, and Daniel Cockrell, 33, who said they work for the Old Statehouse Museum in Little Rock, Ark. Both wore straw top hats along with period men's clothing to portray 19th century witnesses to the wedding. Cockrell said they both make an effort to "get it right" as far as their period attire.

Smith said this year marked her third 19th century wedding to "Sir Reginald J. Jolly-Grub, Esquire." Smith recalled that for a previous wedding presentation, she wore an 1850s period skirt.

The Rev. Chad Partain of St. Paul's Catholic Church in Mansura performed the mock double wedding ceremony, which took about 15 minutes, wearing period-appropriate vestments, including an authentic 1860s surplice and 1870s stole. He also spoke in both Latin and English for the service as appropriate to the time period.

Partain said there was no chapel in the Alexandria area until 1817 so a wedding outside at the plantation house was a likely event of the era.

The Kent House, a plantation house whose construction was completed in 1800, is one of the oldest standing structures in the state of Louisiana, according to its history. Partain said the wedding ceremony during the 1800s was "very similar to what we have." The Catholic service is shorter minus Mass, but he noted that there's "a beautiful solemnity to it." One difference is that the advice to the bride and groom given by the priest has been omitted since the Vatican Council, he said.

Alice Scarborough, director of Kent House, said the site of Saturday's "wedding in time" ceremony in the "parterre" garden facing the front of the house is also the site where real modern-day weddings take place on the property.

After the ceremony, Nippy Blair of Alexandria, one of the modern-day observers at Saturday's event, said, "I thought it was delightful, the wedding was wonderful. It was picturesque with the roses in the background. I think the priest did an excellent job."

Another modern-day visitor, Sarah McWilliams, 26, of Leesville, said she also thought the wedding was wonderful. Traci Watson, 24, also of Leesville, described the event as "definitely a unique experience."

"It was a wonderful experience," agreed Andrea Alford, 25, of Leesville, adding it was great to "get a bit of culture."

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