By Dawn M. Chiossi
Love is in the air; The Pequannock Township Historical Society is planning a wedding, and everyone is invited. On April 25th, from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., they are planning a historical wedding reenactment and a special celebration in honor of Martin Berry’s 300th Wedding Anniversary to Maria Roome.
The Pequannock Township Historical Society was founded on May 7, 2014, when several dedicated and passionate individuals sought to protect and preserve the rich history of Pequannock Township.
Martin Berry was the son of the first family to settle in Pompton Plains. The wedding reenactment promises to be something right out of Colonial America, as the couple were originally married in 1720.
Filled with a sense of romance and intrigue, people often imagine what a historical wedding might look like: The costumes, food, music, goings-on, it’s fun to spin such a dream.
For these devoted volunteers of the historical society, they are doing much more than imagining. For them, the fun is in the planning. At a recent meeting, members let their minds whirl with ideas and concepts for the big day, and everyone is invited to step back in time and attend.
According to the historical society, the driving force behind this idea of a wedding reenactment and celebration was member, Carl Williams. But Williams is quick to say that the idea was very much a team effort.
Although Williams makes it clear that none of the details are final yet, and there are many loose ends that they must tie-up before the event takes place (such as the wedding location), they are elated over the whole brainstorm.
“Since it’s Martin Berry and Maria Roome’s 300th anniversary, we wanted to give a reasonable approximation of what the wedding would look like,” Williams says. “We thought it was a good idea to have a party,” he jokes.
They knew from the calendar that the couple was married on April 25th. Members pointed to the date of 1720 because that was when the Martin Berry House was completed. “Martin and Maria had to have somewhere to live as a married couple,” Williams says simply.
When asked what the weddings were like for a man of Martin Berry’s station and stature in 1720, Williams is enthusiastic. “Weddings in Colonial America were very different than what we are used to seeing,” Williams explains. “For one thing, the wedding ceremony itself was a quiet affair and very small. There would have been approximately seven people altogether: “Martin and Maria, the minister, Maria’s mother and father, and Martin’s mother and stepfather.” Williams mentions that the wedding itself would have taken place, not in a church, but in the parlor of the Roome’s home. “Afterward, they would move out to the yard or large space outside where guests could come for the reception.”
“In Colonial Times women would not wear what we think of as wedding dresses,” Williams states. “The wedding dress as people know it did not exist at that time. Couples would wear what they considered to be their best clothes. It wouldn’t be too far off from what we think of as Revolutionary attire. Women would wear dresses with bodices and lots of layers, men would wear waistcoats, below the knee britches, and stockings. The clothing would be made of linen or wool at this time.”
Since the historical society knew that Pequannock Township was a rural area, the foods at Berry’s wedding would have reflected that. “There would certainly be a variety of meats, roast pork (and this is what the society is thinking of for the reenactment), roast beef, some kind of fowl (chicken, duck or goose), there might have been potatoes, preserves, and certainly spring vegetables,” Williams explains. “What they considered to be dessert; we would think of it as more savory than sweet. Sugar was very expensive and from the Caribbean, so desserts would have been sweetened with fruits or dried fruits. There would be a cake, but there would be no frosting. It would be much more like a pound cake or fruit cake. Also, the cake portions were much smaller, which we would consider pastry sized.”
Beverages served were also different. Drinks would have been punches for the guests, there would have been cider, rum or beer. Like every Dutch community, the Berry’s brewed their own beer.
Although plans are barely underway, members of the Pequannock Township Historical Society are already excited for their own wedding reenactment and ceremony.
They have lined up period music to enhance the day. Talented vocalists and musicians Ridley and Anne Enslow will be singing, playing the violin, mandolin and hammered dulcimer. This is the type of music that might have been played in the parlors of George Washington or Thomas Jefferson.
Williams says that society hopes to have early colonial dancing to go along with the music.
Additionally, history will come alive at the wedding reenactment. Each “character” from Martin Berry to Maria Roome, to their respective parents, and even the minister, will stand up and tell the wedding guests about themselves and their lives.
“Some of the details of the characters will even surprise and intrigue you,” Williams promises.
Stay tuned for further information or details, and be sure to visit www.pequannockhistory.org/ and their various Facebook pages.