Mar­ried to the past

His­tory-themed wed­dings are in­creas­ingly pop­u­lar across Canada.

Canada's History - - CURRENTS - by Mo­riah Camp­bell

Wed­dings to­day are com­monly as­so­ci­ated with sleek white dresses, cham­pagne flutes, and fine din­ing. But more and more cou­ples are choos­ing to cel­e­brate their spe­cial days by turn­ing back time.

On July 13, 2014, Janet La France and Chris Black cel­e­brated their nup­tials as if it were 1815. The wed­ding guests awaited the bride’s grand en­trance in the old­est stand­ing struc­ture in Win­nipeg: the former Grey Nuns con­vent and chapel.

The idea to have a his­tor­i­cal wed­ding grew out of the cou­ple’s shared love for the art of his­tor­i­cal re-en­act­ment. More than ten years ago, La France and Black met at a re-en­act­ment event, and ever since the cou­ple has par­taken in re-en­act­ments across Canada and the United States.

“It’s been a hobby of ours for quite some time, and it seemed like a good way to put our own spin on our wed­ding,” La France said.

On the day of the wed­ding, La France walked down the aisle in a cus­tom-made white cot­ton voile em­pire gown and a grey silk over­dress in­spired by paint­ings and orig­i­nal gar­ments from the early 1800s.

Black waited for her at the al­tar in an out­fit from his pre­ex­ist­ing re-en­act­ment wardrobe. His dark blue tail­coat and grey silk waist­coat com­pli­mented his fit­ted fall-front trousers quite nicely, and he added a beaver-felt top hat for some style.

Black, who changed out­fits sev­eral times dur­ing the big day, said the out­fits seem in­tri­cate by to­day’s stan­dards but were com­mon for typ­i­cal cit­i­zens of 1815.

“In this time pe­riod, peo­ple would have just worn their Sun­day best to get mar­ried,” La France said.

As they said, “I do,” the cou­ple was sur­rounded by eighty of their clos­est friends and fam­ily mem­bers. The grooms­men, who were fel­low re-en­ac­tors, wore re­gency-era out­fits, and the brides­maids wore dark blue em­pire gowns hand­made by the groom. The of­fi­ciant stood out from the wed­ding party, as he was styling 1730s-era garb. The wed­ding in­vi­ta­tions read, “cos­tumes en­cour­aged but not re­quired.”

“Some of our guests did go all-out and found a seam­stress to make them an out­fit. It was re­ally nice to have them there blend­ing in with us,” La France said.

After­wards, the new­ly­weds and their guests en­joyed a re­cep­tion at Fort Gibral­tar, a Win­nipeg his­toric site that repli­cates a North West Com­pany fort circa 1815.

As guests sipped tea and ate scones, a pi­anist and fid­dler played mu­sic of the time pe­riod.

The cou­ple made their own ta­ble run­ners with his­toric fab­ric and used their an­tique sil­ver­ware as dec­o­ra­tion. They even served a tra­di­tional nine­teenth-cen­tury drink called syl­labub that com­bines heavy cream, lemon, and wine.

Across the coun­try, Parks Canada’s Na­tional His­toric Sites are pop­u­lar lo­ca­tions for wed­dings. The most sought-after sites in­clude the Bar U Ranch in south­ern Al­berta; Ba­toche in Saskatchewan; Manoir-Pap­ineau in Que­bec; and the Hal­i­fax Ci­tadel in Nova Sco­tia.

Aside from be­ing a tai­lor of his­tor­i­cal cloth­ing, Black has in­ter­preted both na­tion­ally and in­ter­na­tion­ally since 1997. He vol­un­teers reg­u­larly at Fort Gibral­tar, where he por­trays a North West Com­pany part­ner of 1815.

La France has been re-en­act­ing through­out North Amer­ica for more than a decade and works as a ge­neal­o­gist at Le Musée de Saint-Boni­face in Win­nipeg.

Janet La France and Chris Black, stand­ing fourth and fifth from the right, are sur­rounded by wed­ding guests and fel­low re-en­ac­tors, at Mai­son de Bour­geois, Fort Gibral­tar, Win­nipeg.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.