Imagine your wedding day as national headline news, read from DC to Des Moines. You, your groom and your guest list are the subject of Washington’s biggest event of the year, and anyone who’s anyone is going to be there.
Marjorie Merriweather Post became accustomed to this tradition, as the bride in four of her own weddings, and the unofficial wedding planner for each of her three daughters. As the daughter of Charles William Postum, the founder of Postum Cereal Company (now Post and General Mills cereal) Mrs. Post was a distinguished socialite, with an eye for putting on spectacular events.
A regular host of Washington socialite dinner parties, Mrs. Post had a remarkable list of contacts, including Washington’s elite. Pulling from these contacts, Mrs. Post created the guest lists for each of the weddings she planned. These traditional white weddings stood apart from the rest because both the bride and her guests were all Washington socialites, and the events they attended were guaranteed to be grand.
Both as a bride and a planner, Marjorie Post had an extraordinary ability to envision an event from start to finish, scrupulously putting every last detail in place. In her second wedding to E.F. Hutton, Mrs. Post coordinated everything from her dress and flowers down to the color of the icing on the cake.
Very interested in fashion, Mrs. Post’s wedding dresses reflected the most prominent styles of the time. The first dress she wore to her 1905 wedding to Edward Close was very traditional, featuring a high collar and more fitted bodice. This changed drastically by her 1935 wedding to Joseph E. Davies, when she wore a dress of true Hollywood glam made of velvet with a seven-foot train. By her fourth wedding in 1958, she chose to embrace the popularity of the shorter gown, despite being nearly 70 years old.
Besides having an incredible eye for design, it was the way in which Mrs. Post carried out these events that made them a cut above the rest. By sending out reminders before the event occurred and thank-you notes in appreciation of all those attended, Marjorie Post had perfected the role of a socialite in gaining the respect of all who knew her.
Although Mrs. Post’s gatherings had a reputation for extravagance, and her guest list filled with Washington’s most powerful names, many of the traditions were no different than weddings of today. As a bride herself, Marjorie Post certainly had her bridal opinion, picking the color, style, fabric and design of her bridesmaids’ dresses. As the mother of three young brides, Mrs. Post had a strong hand in navigating their weddings as well, using her contacts to secure an amazing event.
Just as today, historic Washington socialite weddings were a monumental moment in the bride’s life, the planning as much of an event as the wedding itself. In observing the traditional ways weddings have been done in the past we can all gain a greater appreciation for the traditions we still carry out today.
For more information on Marjorie Merriweather Post visit the Hillwood Museum’s upcoming exhibit featuring all four of Mrs. Post’s wedding dresses and many other wedding artifacts.