Wedding celebrated during Civil War Days
PIPESTONE -- Saturday will be a big day for Chuck Ness, chairman of the Pipestone Civil War Days Committee. Not only will it be the first day of the two-day Civil War Days, which takes place every two years in Pipestone, but it also will be his o...
PIPESTONE -- Saturday will be a big day for Chuck Ness, chairman of the Pipestone Civil War Days Committee.
Not only will it be the first day of the two-day Civil War Days, which takes place every two years in Pipestone, but it also will be his only daughter's wedding day. Kathryn Ness will marry Ethan Heller in a wedding that will observe several traditions of the Civil War period.
The wedding, open to the public, will take place at 11:45 a.m. at the Billy Yank Tent, located at the bottom of the Song of Hiawatha Pageant Grounds Hill. A brief description and history of Civil War-era weddings will take place prior to the actual wedding.
Period dress will be an integral component of the wedding, Chuck Ness explained.
"The bride and groom, and the parents and the official, will all be dressed in Civil War-era clothing," Ness said. "The bride will not be wearing a white dress, as only very wealthy women owned white dresses. ... Women generally had three dresses, and their wedding dress became their best dress."
The wedding dress for Ness' daughter was designed and commissioned by Joy Melcher, who he said is "a foremost expert in women's wear in the Civil War era." Melcher is a former Pipestone resident.
As for the groom, Ness said he will be clad in a white shirt, bow tie and frock coat that was typical of the Civil War period. He and the bride will repeat vows that are common today -- in fact, Ness said standard vows have remained essentially unchanged for 200 years.
When the wedding concludes, people in attendance will likely notice something different.
"The interesting thing at the end of the ceremony is the pastor or whoever was officiating would never say, 'Would you like to kiss the bride?'" Ness said, noting a true gentleman would never display such affection in public.
One aspect of a usual Civil War-era wedding won't be observed, Ness said.
"Traditionally, Civil War weddings had two bridesmaids, and they had the same exact dress as the bride," he said. Ness' daughter is not having any bridesmaids.
Following the wedding, a small reception for family and friends will take place. The couple will be part of other events later in the day.
"We've already got a banquet planned with all the Civil War re-enactors, so they (bride and groom) will just use that as their traditional meal," Ness said. "And, the bride and groom will entertain at the grand ball later that evening."
The banquet dinner is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. at St. Leo's Church, while the grand ball is set for 8 p.m. on the Courthouse lawn.
Among the numerous events also scheduled for Civil War Days is a special program by actors who portray Abe and Mary Lincoln. They will be on the grounds both Saturday and Sunday to answer questions, and a performance set for 5:30 p.m. Saturday will feature reflections on the presidency, their lives and their time in the White House.
"In this poignant presentation, they reveal much about their lives together, beginning with their courtship, early marriage and the tumultuous years of the Civil War," Ness said. "This program will leave an impression on all who attend."
Several other activities are planned in conjunction with Civil War Days. For more information, visit http://www.pipestoneminnesota.com/cwd/Home.html .