A SPECTACULAR collection of vintage wedding dresses is to go on show in a celebration of marriage

The St Mary’s Church flower ladies in Steeple Ashton are to put on show around 40 vintage wedding dresses, most from 1911 onwards, but including one from early Victorian England and another which bears a tag dating it at from around 1780, plus flower arrangements, for a weekend titled The Steeple Ashton Wedding Flowers Festival.

The oldest dress belonged to Mary Mariss of Roxby, north Lincolnshire, who died in 1865 aged 95. It has been passed down over the years to her direct descendant, Steeple Ashton resident Jo Campbell,who is also putting on show the dress worn by another ancestor, Ann Mariss, at her wedding in Bradford, West Yorkshire in 1843, as well as her own wedding dress from 1972 and her mother’s from 1944.

Most of the dresses are being provided by villagers and will be displayed together wedding photographs and re-creations of the floral bouquets carried by the brides, as shown in the photographs.

Interestingly, the two early dresses are not white. White wedding dresses started to become popular after Queen Victoria set the fashion in 1840. They are also much smaller than modern day dresses, reflecting the generally smaller stature of their owners.

The festival will fill the village church of St Mary’s, a magnificent 15th century Late Perpendicular masterpiece, over the weekend of July 13-15, enhanced by trees and shrubs supplied by Lowdens of Atworth.

Mrs Campbell said;” I have been co-ordinating the display of flowers for many years and will step down at the end of the year. The idea of a show of wedding dresses just came to me.”

A grand ticket-only preview evening with wine and canapes, at £6 a ticket will, open the festival on Friday, 13 July 13. After that it is open 10.30am-4.30pm on Saturday, July 14, and 1pm-4.30pm on Sunday, July 15, entry £3.

The money raised will pay for the church flowers at Christmas for the next few years. For the rest of the year the church flower ladies pay for them or provide the flowers from their gardens.

Tickets for the grand preview are available from Steeple Ashton village shop, or from Petra Brown on 01380 870696 and Jo Campbell on 01380 871171.