Beautiful gowns of varying styles were exhibited in Irvinestown Presbyterian Church over the weekend for the Beautiful Brides Wedding Dress Festival in aid of church funds.

Members of the host church and its sister churches, Tempo and Pettigo Presbyterian, kindly lent their wedding dresses for the occasion, which were displayed alongside wedding cakes and floral displays to set the scene. Each dress was accompanied by a photograph of the bride wearing it on her special day.

Running from Friday, May 24 to Monday, May 27, the event was well-attended by members of the public who thoroughly enjoyed perusing the dresses which spanned over five decades.

The oldest dress on display was worn by Beatrice Irwin as she married John Nevin on February 9, 1943.

The most recent wedding dress which was on exhibit over the weekend was that of Harriet, the new Countess of Erne, who recently married John Crichton, the 7th Earl of Erne, at Crom Estate on May 4. Her dress was custom made in London by the designer Suzanne Neville.

Cherry Armstrong, a member of Tempo Presbyterian Church, explained that she had made her own wedding dress which she proudly wore during her ‘big day’ back in 1978.

“40 years ago there was a lot more dress making,” she said, adding that she learnt to sew during her Domestic Science lessons in school.

Cherry explained that her dress, which had floaty batwing style sleeves “must have been on trend” at the time.

She bought the fabric from Hickey’s in Dublin along with the dress pattern.

“I remember making it at home and it did take me some months. I suppose I did bits at it and I had to do the lining of it and then make the outer bit. I probably spent quite a while at it,” she said.

Cherry noted that it was lovely to see her dress included as part of the festival. She said: “My dress hasn’t been out in years and I must admit, when I looked at it I thought, ‘did I actually do that,’ because I don’t sew very much now. I mean, I would take up a hem and maybe sew something straight like curtains but I haven’t made clothes in years.”

Cherry also contributed to the Wedding Dress Festival by baking traditional fruit wedding cakes which could be sampled over the course of the weekend.

She said: “Mrs. Gilliland, who would be one of the eldest ladies in Tempo Presbyterian, she had a recipe from an old Presbyterian women’s magazine which was of significance to her and she passed me the recipe and asked me would I make some cakes for the Wedding Dress Festival.”

She continued: “So I made the recipe, I made it in three cakes so that they would have a fruit cake to cut up each day. Mrs. Gilliland donated me the ingredients and I made the cakes.”

Commenting on the success of the Wedding Dress Festival, Cherry highlighted the great work of Alma Kinnear, the main organiser of the event.

“There was an awful lot of work by Alma and her team, and everybody. There was a lot of work to it. I think she needs a lot of praise for inspiring us,” she said.

She concluded: “It was an excellent event and each wedding dress was beautiful in its own way.”