When Ben Romney of BYU-Idaho’s Applied Plant Science Department was initially hired he was tasked with creating a spring flower and bridal event for what was then Rick’s College. With the aid of the Home Economics Department, a women’s week was developed for mothers visiting their daughters in Rexburg. Women’s Week evolved into Mother’s Weekend that was disbanded when the three academic tracks were introduced. In the past few years, “we have collaborated with the Home and Family Department, kind of full circle, as we began in 1988 with the original show,” said Brother Romney.
The second annual fashion and floral gala, titled ‘Forget-Me-Not,’ was held in the Hart Gym on BYU-Idaho’s campus in Rexburg, Idaho, on March 26. Planning started in January for one of the largest events at BYU-I. Last year the fashion and floral gala attracted more than 1,000 people from the surrounding area.
“It’s kind of like a humongous wedding reception,” said Genet Orme, who heads the apparel design concentration at BYU-I and supervised the event. The event involved more than 120 students in two departments, each of whom put in weeks of researching, designing and creating the dresses, floral arrangements and refreshments.
This year’s event was divided into four sections covering several decades from 1900 to the present. The categories focused on the transformation of bridal dresses, floral arrangements and cookies during specific time periods. Fifty students sought vintage dresses and wedding photos to make the displays. Many of them reached out to their grandmothers or other relatives in order to find dresses from different periods, during which students enjoyed making family history connections. War brides made some of the dresses from the parachutes that saved their husbands’ lives, Sister Orme said.
Christine Gilbert, wife of BYU-Idaho’s president, Clark Gilbert, displayed her wedding dress at the event along with a picture of her and her husband at their wedding reception.
More than 60 students modeled the dresses that they had designed and sewn. Many of the students formed the patterns from scratch, said Sister Orme, all of which are appropriate for the temple.
When students came to her with questions, Sister Orme told them that whenever she is making a temple dress she always starts out on her knees asking for guidance because the dress is for someone “who is trying to do it right.” She also said that they wanted to showcase that modesty is a classic and timeless look that can be handed down through the generations.
Brother Romney said they used this year’s theme to turn the hearts of the children to their fathers — and mothers — “by having several students assemble their bridal bouquets as replicas of those used by their mothers, their grandmothers, or some other prominent person from a designated time period.”
The flowers and plants that formed bouquets, centerpieces and more than 150 feet of garland were collected from around the world. Students grew some of the flowers and plants locally, even with “the long, snowy winters of Rexburg,” said Brother Romney. Other flowers came from San Francisco, Thailand, Israel, Italy, Ecuador, Colombia and Hawaii. Flowers were also purchased through the FloraHolland market in Aalsmeer, Netherlands.
With an open house, a fashion show and a reception that portrayed the legacy of weddings, it was only fitting that the refreshments match. Students sifted through recipes to find a dessert that carried through the decades, said Sister Orme. The one they found that had remained relatively unchanged was the sugar cookie.
“From mixing the dough with grandma to licking the bowl with mom, everyone can recall their stories of making sugar cookies together,” said Cheryl Empey, a member of the Home and Family Department faculty. Forty-four batches of dough, which amounted to 2,000 cookies, were made for a crowd of more than 900 people. The decorations on the cookies also reflected the different decades, from the little black dress for the 1920s era, to the bubblegum flavored poodle skirt for the 1950s.
Overall, the event showcased the talents of students and the legacy of the past 100 years of weddings. Sister Orme said they wanted viewers to reflect on the legacy of eternal families that their ancestors gave to them and to contemplate what their own legacy will be.