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Annual garden party at national historic site features historic wedding re-enactment

COURTESY PHOTO - Mollie Reel is a volunteer at Philip Foster Farm who is coordinating the wedding recreation at the upcoming garden party. She is also playing the role of the bride.

Didn't receive your invitation?

No matter — all are invited to bear witness to an upcoming historic wedding at the Philip Foster Farm.

Mary Charlotte's Garden Party, scheduled for Saturday, July 20, will feature a re-enactment of Max Foster and Mary Elizabeth Welch's nuptials in the 1860s. The gathering is a celebration of the life of Philip Foster's wife Mary Charlotte and other pioneer women.

The event will feature a reception with dancing and refreshments, along with an opportunity to take photos with the bride and groom.

"Weddings back then were events, but they weren't huge, so we had to balance excitement with being historically accurate," said Mollie Reel, 18, a volunteer at the farm who has been coordinating the event and will play the role of the bride. "Everyone will be dressed up like the 1860's, will talk like it's the 1860s and will keep in character while they talk to the guests . . . I've worked here for 10 years, and it's been a dream of mine to bring it all together and create a historical wedding."

Young graduates of the farm's finishing school camp earlier that week will also assist at the event by serving snacks and writing thank you notes for guests.

The garden party typically highlights clothing from the era, often featuring a fashion show.

"Clothing is a way into what womens' lives were like," said Jennifer Goldman, Philip Foster Farm's programming director. "Bonnets were like blinders. What did that mean for daily life? Bringing stories out with clothing has always been part of the garden party."

Along with the outfits members of the wedding party will wear, many of which are reproductions of dresses from the time period, additional historic dresses will be on display.

The event will also feature tours of the recently-opened Lucy House, dancing demonstrations and lawn games.

"We've always used the event to talk about pioneer women," Goldman said. "There's not as much written history unless they kept diaries, but they were so busy, there's not as much detail."

If you go

What: Mary Charlotte's Garden Party at Philip Foster Farm

When: Saturday, July 20. The farm opens at 11 a.m., and the event begins at 1 p.m.

Where: Philip Foster Farm National Historic Site,

22725 S.E. Eagle Creek Road

Cost: $5 per person or $20 per family


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