Saying Yes To The Dress

Revisiting the fashionable styles of yesteryear, Bosque Museum community exhibit displays beautiful collection of vintage wedding dresses

CLIFTON – Saying yes to the dress is said to be as important as saying yes to a future husband. And with that said, brides over the decades have worn some splendid wedding dresses, which hold so many dear memories within the fabric folds, the appliques, the tulle skirt, the satin bodice, the “something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue.” As such, wedding gowns and suits are often saved by families, safely tucked in a closet.

The latest exhibit at the Bosque Museum is a Community Exhibit displaying wedding dresses on loan from the community. The public can view this fun “Say Yes to the Dress” exhibit until October 30.

“I know that our community values history that there must be a diversity of dresses in the closets of Bosque County, so I decided it would be a good fit for the Bosque Museum,” Museum Director Erin Shields said. “We put the word out to our members, volunteers, and to our newsletter subscribers, and had a fantastic turn-out!

“On set-up day, the museum had the mannequin forms out and display case open, and everyone came, bringing dresses, shoes, and even a cake topper! I've really loved seeing the brides bring their families by to see their dress on display. It proves that history is not only the distant past, but the recent past, too!”

Janice Linberg Bertelsen was ready to part with her wedding dress when she and her husband Bellamy downsized from their family home in Clifton. The young couple – they were 24 and 21 – were wed at St. Olaf's Lutheran Church in Cranfills Gap by Bellamy’s brother-in-law, Rev. David Jorgenson.

As a young girl, her daughter Julie Davis used to love playing with the dress and she thought her mother looked just like a movie star on her wedding day Aug. 15, 1964. And because of those dear memories, Julie just could not part with the dress. Luckily, the museum’s special exhibit was an excuse to keep the gown.

As it was very delicate the dress went to New York for special cleaning, and Julie worked to restore the veil's missing faux pearls – this without either of Julie’s parent’s knowing.

The real blessing of family came together on Aug. 6 just prior to the Bertelsen’s 58th anniversary, when the dress and exhibit were viewed not only with the bride and groom, but with Julie and their four granddaughters, an ultimate bride's dream. Happy Anniversary to a beautiful couple always and forever.

A previous Bosque Museum Textile Exhibit in 2019 featured another Bertelsen wedding dress – one worn by Julie's grandmother Johanna Christensen, on her wedding to William "Bill" Bertelsen in 1932 at St Olaf's Lutheran Church in Cranfills Gap.

A third gown from the Bertelsen family also has been on display in the past. It is the gown Alice Tergerson Bertelsen wore when she married Martin Jack Bertelsen in 1904, also in the St. Olafs Church in Cranfills Gap. They are Julie’s great-grandparents. These last two dresses are part of the museum’s permanent collection.

Another special dress is on loan for the present exhibit came from Van and Mary Massirer and their daughter Laura Massirer Scott. It is the dress Van’s mother Agnes Ida Leola Gohlke wore when she married Van’s father Edwin in Clifton in 1931. The wedding took place at the bride’s parent’s home.

The oldest dress on display is one from 1924 that belonged to Clara Alice Smith which she wore in Kowanda, Nebraska when she married William Saunders Vincent. The dress is on loan from Sharon Mooberry.

Each dress on display is exquisite and they hold so many dear memories for the families loaning them to the museum. The Community Exhibit is on display until Oct. 30. The Bosque Museum is located at 301 S. Avenue Q, Clifton. Opening hours are Thu.-Sat. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. and Sun. noon-5 p.m.

For nostalgia’s sake, and to show the broad scope of the county archive, unique photographs courtesy of the Bosque Collection featuring Bosque County couples over the decades on their wedding day are also included in this article. Back when Bosque County was established in 1854, pioneer brides wore dresses refurbished from their mother’s and grandmother’s dresses.

Because of their often humble circumstances, bridal elements were borrowed from friends and neighbors and traditions from their country of origin were sometimes incorporated. For example, the elaborate traditional Norwegian Bunad headdress was recreated with textiles and flowers into the “Norwegian Crown,” which you can see in some of the vintage photos. 

Photos courtesy of BOSQUE MUSEUM & BOSQUE COLLECTION

©2022 Southern Cross Creative, LLP. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

1 comment

  1. Saranne Penberthy 28 August, 2022 at 15:33 Reply

    This exhibit was such fun to see and this article expands the comments presented on site.

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