Dixie dolls turn out in paper for museum’s wedding dress competition

ST. GEORGE – Washington County residents of all ages faced off in a paper wedding dress competition Saturday in celebration of the St. George Art Museum’s “Here comes the gown: 150 years of wedding dresses” exhibit.

Eight groups, made up of teams of up to five people, worked for a chance to win prizes and bragging rights of creating the best paper wedding dress.


To watch videocast, click play arrow play-arrow in center of image at top of this story 


The dresses were constructed ahead of time and a contestant from each group wore their creations as part of the contest.

Desert Hills Middle School students, Christy Cosgrove and Aubri Denter, made a long column style dress.

“My friend and I just decided to do it,” Denter said. “Making the flowers was our favorite part.”

Showcasing the details of the backs of the dresses, Paper Wedding Dress Competition,
Showcasing the details of the backs of the dresses, Paper Wedding Dress Competition, St. George Art Museum, St. George, Utah, Feb. 7, 2015 | Photo by Candice McMahon, St. George News

The inspiration for the paper wedding dress competition came from the age old bridal shower game of taping toilet paper on the bride to be in an effort to make it look like a wedding dress.

When it was show time, contestants walked down the museum’s fashion show runway, wearing their creative paper designer pieces. Paper pieces layered, sewn, taped, hot glued or stapled together became remarkable pieces of art. Some were elaborate in scale, while others were simple yet did not lack beauty.

The People’s Choice award was given to Aspen Evens, Paxton Gibson, Selig Cosgrove, Erinn Milligan and Bailee Allen, all of Dixie Middle School.

“It was enjoyable but not something we would do for profit,” Milligan said. “It took us maybe one week to build. We all love art and thought this would be fun.”

The Judges’ Choice award went to Hurricane High School students Carli Holm, Liangying Zhae, Jileigh Heaton, Kayce Jaynes, Annie Bistline and Ashlyn Mecham.

“We all love art and thought this would be a great project for our art club,” Bistline said. “We actually sewed this dress. It took a lot of time.”

The People’s Choice and Judges’ Choice recipients each won a gift basket filled with goodies and movie tickets.

In the making

St. George Art Museum staff said they spent more than a year planning the exhibit that celebrates the history of the wedding dress.

“The idea just came to me at one point or other a year or so ago,” Museum Curator Deborah Reeder said of the exhibit, adding that when she envisioned it, she “wanted the dresses to really have a voice.”

There are 53 dresses representing 15 decades of wedding dress design currently on display at the museum.

Wedding dress worn by Margaretha Fuhrer Schlappi in 1855 on display at the "Here Comes the Gown: 150 Years of Wedding Dresses" exhibit at the St. George Art Museum, St. George, Utah, Feb. 7, 2015 | Photo by Candice McMahon, St. George News
Wedding dress worn by Margaretha Fuhrer Schlappi in 1855 on display at the “Here Comes the Gown: 150 Years of Wedding Dresses” exhibit at the St. George Art Museum, St. George, Utah, Feb. 7, 2015 | Photo by Candice McMahon, St. George News

Wedding dresses have not always been the fashion statement they are today, according to “The History of Costume” written by Blanche Payne, Geitel Winakor and Jane Ferrell-Beck, and brides rarely bought dresses specifically for the wedding. Instead, they would wear a best dress they already owned.

In fact, most dresses were not white, according to the book, they were black. Women of wealth wore white because bleaching techniques had yet to be perfected and white fabric was extremely expensive.

The oldest wedding dress on display in the exhibit belonged to Margaretha Fuhrer Schlappi, of Switzerland. She was married in 1855. The dress is a heavy, black satin, skirt and blouse, with a hat and a faux fur cape.

The most current dress on display in the exhibit belongs to Jamie Fowler Sweeney. It is a white satin strapless ball gown with a lace, seed pearls and rhinestone bodice, a beaded and rhinestone embellished waistband and cathedral train.

“Marriage is a very important part of life for almost everybody,” Reeder said. “Even if they are not married they have been to weddings, in weddings, going to be in weddings – quite the seminal event in life.”

See details about the St. George Art Museum ongoing exhibit, “Here Comes the Bride: 150 Years of Wedding Dresses,” under resources at the end of the photo gallery.

Click on photo to enlarge it, then use your left-right arrow keys to cycle through the gallery. 

Exhibit details

  • Here comes the gown: 150 years of wedding dresses exhibit on display through May 9
  • Where: St. George Art Museum, 47 E. 200 North, St. George
  • Museum hours: Monday-Saturday, 10 a.m.to 5 p.m.
  • Admission: Adults, $3 | Children ages 3-11, $1 | Current museum members, free
  • Contact: Telephone: 435-627-4525 | Email: museum@sgcity.org | Web page
  • Read more:  Wedding dress show opens at St. George Art Museum

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