Wedding exhibition draws community together

Samoan and Tongan wedding attire on display at St Michael's, Henderson.

Wedding exhibition draws community together
Wedding apparel from many cultures, past and present, drew the community together at St Michael and All Angels, Henderson, on the first weekend in October.

The church organised the exhibition to raise money to upgrade their carpark and convert one of their toilets into a shower for use by the homeless in the area.

About 40 wedding dresses were on display, along with suits and baptismal gowns. The oldest dress dated from 1929 and there was a bowler hat from 1908. One person donated a baptismal gown used by her great-grandmother in 1900. Indian, African and Pasifika cultures were also represented.

Many of the garments were donated by the wider community, including some from the personal collection of Ms Paula Chan, an award-winning bridal and fashion designer who often incorporates traditional Samoan elements in her designs. Some of her creations are displayed at Te Papa, the British Museum and the Auckland War Memorial Museum.

The exhibition finished on Saturday afternoon with a bridal fashion show followed by high tea. The stories behind some of the garments were shared through photos and video, and two couples talked about their marriages and memories of their wedding day.

St Michael’s vicar, the Reverend Nyasha Gumbeze said it was great to see more than 500 people enjoying the exhibition over the three days.

“The exhibition really exceeded our expectations in the way it brought the community together. People were so supportive and encouraging – it blew our minds,” she said.

The oldest wedding dress in the exhibition was this fragile garment from 1929.
Miss Samoa NZ 2010, Maree Angelica Wright’s wedding dress was designed by her aunt Paula Chan and featured fine matting on the bodice.