Ford House rolls out more wedding dresses

By: K. Michelle Moran | Grosse Pointe Times | Published September 21, 2016

GROSSE POINTE SHORES — Showing up “fashionably late” to most weddings might be frowned upon, but it’s not too late for people to show up for “Down the Aisle: 100 Years of Ford Family Weddings.” 

The exhibition has been on display at the Edsel and Eleanor Ford House in Grosse Pointe Shores for approximately three months — it closes Nov. 6 — but whether you’ve already seen it or might want to see it again, Ford House officials say visitors will find several new gowns that have been rotated into the display. An added bonus: There’s no need to RSVP.

The exhibit has brought many new visitors to the Ford House, according to Colin Bowyer, communications and community outreach specialist for the Ford House.

“It’s an exhibition where we’re unveiling new things each week. Plus, it’s very unique,” Bowyer said.

Since it opened in June, Bowyer said, “Down the Aisle” has attracted more than 4,000 visitors.

“It’s really brought out families, grandparents, children,” he said. “You see such a great diversity of people coming in.”

Timed to coincide with the 100th anniversary of Edsel and Eleanor Ford’s nuptials in November 1916, “Down the Aisle” also opened around the same time that a new statue commemorating their union was unveiled on the grounds. The life-size bronze, which can be seen near the lagoon on the Ford House grounds, features the couple happily strolling together.

Because of the delicate nature of textiles — which can be exposed to so much light only for a limited period of time because of the risk of damage or discoloration — the dress display has been on rotation all summer, meaning that visitors have been able to see different gowns at different times.

Visitors still can see Eleanor Ford’s 1916 Russian-style gown, created by the famed House of Lucile; the gown and veil feature actual silver thread, which has tarnished over time, giving the dress and veil gray accents. Martha Firestone Ford’s detailed Carrie Munn gown also remains on view. In addition, visitors will find gowns designed by major names such as Vera Wang and Oleg Cassini.

Besides dresses, visitors will get an intimate glimpse into Ford family weddings over the last 100 years through personal photos, film footage from Edsel and Eleanor Ford’s rehearsal dinner, wedding favors and accessories from various weddings, Eleanor Ford’s wedding gift to Edsel — a Cartier billfold with her personal note to him, which shows that she called him “Ned” — and an actual slice of their wedding cake.

“With the exhibition closing, we want to make sure everyone’s seen it,” Bowyer said.

Whether it’s because the exhibition coincided with summer wedding season or whether it’s just the general public fascination with weddings, “Down the Aisle” has proven to be wildly popular.

“The exhibit has been an overwhelming success,” said Ford House President Kathleen Mullins in a prepared statement. “Visitors have been attending the exhibit from all over the region to reminisce about their own weddings or gather inspiration for an upcoming one. The exhibit is bringing multiple generations together, just as it was created to do.”

Admission to “Down the Aisle” is included with regular admission to the Ford House — including a grounds tour pass — and is free for Ford House members. The Ford House is located at 1100 Lake Shore Road in Grosse Pointe Shores, between Vernier and Nine Mile roads. For reservations or more information, call (313) 884-4222 or visit www.fordhouse.org.