On a typical day, Rienzi is a sophisticated setting to ooh and aah at the stylish European decorative arts holdings of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. The former home of Carroll Sterling Cowan and Harris Masterson, who wed in this 1952 River Oaks residence designed by notable architect John Staub, is the epitome of class and good taste.
Then, why on earth was a bevy of gals and gents in a mishmash of nuptial duds occupying the museum's grounds — you ask?
Rienzi director Katherine Howe isn't shy about bringing back the original owners' penchant for partying. With a nod to the exhibition The Wedding Dress, on view through June 30, the ballroom, reception area and lanai, which was covered with swaths of flowing white fabrics overlooking rows of pink roses lining the fountain, served as the stage for the "Always a Bridesmaid, Never a Bride" party on Thursday.
It was gathering with a romantic — yet quirky — personality that had everyone chatting about weddings do's, wedding don'ts and nostalgic stories of days gone by.
Take Barbara Fowler, who was wearing the garment her mother wore to Fowler's 1964 wedding at St. Anne's. You could see the timeless, lace dress complete with elbow-length, white leather gloves and beaded purse in a photo Fowler brought to the event. So what if Lea Salomon's original wedding gown is now covering a chair in her living room. Salomon grabbed her daughter's elegant ensemble, added a few rhinestones to the headpiece and happily walked down memory lane.
Howe, in a flowing, sheer pink number she wore to her daughter's wedding, alongside security officer Cheryl Collins and docent June Bynum, dished out prizes for best costumes, which included an array of gift cards. Finger foods by Lola, indulgent cakes and plenty of bubbly, plus sentimental oldies by DJ Johnny J ushered guests to Smilebooth's photo haven, which was outfitted with plenty of accoutrements that made for comical mementos.
Saying "I do" — or "I don't" — were Emily Knochel, Peggy Walsh, Deborah Horwitz, Wendy Barreno, Esther Trioche, Victoria Ridgway, Sarah Henderson, Durham Kyle, Katy Schawe, Claire Petree, Elizabeth Suffield, Meredith Allison, Katie Hamman and Amelia Johnson.