Written by KAREN NADLER COTA Sentinel Lifestyles Editor
Saturday, 13 April 2013 07:55
ROSSFORD - One of Ohio's largest privately-held collections of historic wedding gowns is to be found right here in the city.
|Judy Sikorski (right) talks about a vintage wedding dress with Sarah Buehrer (left). (Photo: Enoch Wu/Sentinel-Tribune)
That collection is soon to be broken up permanently. But before it is, the public is being offered a single chance to see many of the gowns at once, in a gala luncheon and style show slated for April 20.
Rossford United Methodist Church will be the setting for a "Weddings Through The Decades" event which will feature actual wedding gowns dating back to the late 1800s, many with historical ties to Rossford's earliest families.
It will take place from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Many of the gowns to be shown belong to Judy Sikorski of Rossford. of Rossford.
“I have been collecting these gown for over 50 years and since storage is now a problem I thought it might be fun to show them before liquidating the collection,” which numbers about 300. “Not only do I have brides’ dresses but I also have the bridesmaids’ dresses, mother of the bride and flower girl dresses.”
That’s not even counting an additional 200 or 300 vintage non-wedding gowns, hats and accessories she owns and sometimes loans out to area high schools as costumes for plays and musicals.
Sikorski said her near-obsessive collecting of wedding finery began with the dress her own mother wore when she wed in 1935.
“It was dark green velvet and I’ve saved it all these years.
“I became interested in the history of the wedding gown and discovered that during the war years, few people could afford a big wedding and many young women were married in regular nice dresses.”
However, the opposite was often true of weddings from the 1920s and earlier, as well as the 1950s forward, when bridal fashions and fabrics were often elaborate and costly.
“One day while searching through items in a Rossford garage sale, I found this lovely silk wedding gown from the early 1920s. I bought it and soon became hooked. As a challenge, I began adding a gown for each decade until I had reached the year 2000 and I vowed to stop collecting them.”
Sikorski found it easy to collect dresses up to the 1950s because they weren’t so big, but “after that, storing such full gowns just ate up too much space. Some of these from the ’70s and ’80s started getting huge. From the floor to the ceiling in a big closet is where they were until I decided that it was time to let them go.”
Honesty compels Sikorski to admit that her long-suffering husband “helped me decide” it’s time to say farewell to her beloved dresses.
Friends who know about Sikorski’s collection encouraged her to share them with the public in a fashion show.
“Weddings Through the Decades” is the result, with others lending especially historic gowns for the show. The 30-plus dresses will be grouped in decades, with three gowns per decade beginning in 1898 when Rossford was first settled.
“We have one more than 100 years old, that came in just last week,” Sikorski said. “Some are so fragile they can’t be worn. Those will be shown on mannequins.”
Some of her flower girl dresses are also “extremely rare,” circa late 1800s. “Rare because children wore their good clothing for more than one occasion or passed them on until they were worn out. Few of these dresses survived.”
The newest bridal gown is from 2010. Some of the newer dresses will be sold following the event.
Guests — who are encouraged, but not required, to come in period dress — will arrive at 11 a.m. for a social time and photo opportunity, and be served an elegant buffet luncheon done in the tradition of a wedding shower at 11:30.
Afterward they will be able to wander the “shops” set up in the narthex where various dealers will be selling wedding veils and assorted items that pertain to weddings, including repair and re-creation of damaged or deteriorated veils.
One will feature a display of different things that can be made out of an old wedding gown that no one wants anymore.
“Many times I’ve heard a lady complain that her daughters don’t want her dress, so Nancy Rust has found a way to take a dress apart and make bonnets, book covers, hankies, teddy bears and a beautiful christening gown, along with many other items that can be given as memorial gifts to their daughters.”
Ticket-holders will enter the sanctuary where the models will walk the aisle wearing the gowns, escorted by “groomsmen.” Some of the dresses will be worn by the granddaughters of the original brides.
There will also be a film of old wedding photos taken throughout the decades, the oldest from 1880.
All tickets will be sold in advance. Prices are $20 for adults and $10 for children 12 and under. The price includes the buffet, and a chance at an “opportunity” drawing featuring many gift items.
A good portion of the proceeds will go toward local youth activities.
If you go:
• No tickets will be sold at the door. All tickets will be sold in advance.
• Prices: $20 for adults
$10 for children 12 and under
• Purchase tickets at Inside-Out Self Storage, 194 Dixie Hwy., Rossford, or at Rossford United Methodist Church at 270 Dixie Hwy.