Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Down the Aisle with 12 Ford Family Wedding Gowns

The first three wedding gowns on display when we entered the South Cottage were worn by fourth generation brides [great-grandchildren] of Edsel and Eleanor Ford.  Two were brides of Calvin and Henry Ford III, sons of Edsel Ford II and his wife, Cynthia Ford, and the third, was the granddaughter of Josephine Clay Ford.

The gown on the right was worn by Sarah Fox, bride of Calvin Ford.  The strapless, tiered, Oscar de la Renta gown had a black ribbon sash.  Their wedding was July 11, 2011 in Grosse Pointe Farms. The reception was held on the grounds of Edsel and Eleanor Ford's estate.

[Internet Photo]

The gown on the left was worn by Emily Haigh, bride of Henry Ford III.  Their wedding was May 31, 2014 in Grosse Pointe Farms.  Angel Sanchez designed the mermaid style gown with a crumb-catcher bodice.  The reception was at Greenfield Village in Dearborn.

[Photo courtesy of Century of Love, Ford House]

~ Gown of Lindsay Ford to Thomas Buhl on September 16, 1995 ~

[Photo Courtesy of Century of Love, Ford House]

The docent told us the gowns in this room would change during the exhibit so several gowns of great-grandchildren could be displayed.

The second room we entered is where Eleanor Clay Ford's Wedding Gown was displayed, as well as her bridesmaid's gown.  

She and her bridesmaids wore exotic, turn-of-the century, Russian-style dresses with Russian head-dresses of pearls and rhinestones purchased at renowned designer House of Lucile in New York. [Owned by Lady Duff-Gordon, who survived the Titanic sinking four years earlier.  She's the designer who did away with those horrible restrictive corsets and made tea gowns famous.]  

Eleanor had four attendants including her sister, Josephine, but our docent didn't know which lady in the photo was Josephine.

[Photo Courtesy of Century of Love, Ford House]

~ Bridesmaid's Gown ~

~ Descriptions of Eleanor and Edsel's Wedding ~

Photo of my daughter Lori and me with Eleanor Ford's wedding gown in the background.

Two other rooms contained the remaining eight wedding gowns, one room for gowns from grandchildren's weddings, and the other from children's weddings.  

In the grandchildren's room, Cynthia Layne Neskow Ford's wedding gown by Priscilla of Boston is shown below.  She married Edsel Ford II on Sept. 28, 1974 in Tequesta, Florida. Her gown was ivory silk cloud satin, embroidered with Alencon lace, and she wore a cathedral length mantilla draped over a Juliet cap.

[Photo Courtesy of Century of Love, Ford House]

Wedding Gown of Elizabeth Hudson Ford, daughter of William Clay Ford and Martha Firestone Ford.  She married Charles P. Kontulis II in June, 1987 in Grosse Pointe Farms, MI.  The gown, featuring a lace bodice and full satin skirt, was designed by Henri Bendel of New York.  Elizabeth is the youngest grandchild of Edsel and Eleanor Ford.

~ Bride with her father, Wm. Clay Ford ~

[Photo Courtesy of Century of Love, Ford House]

Wedding gown of Josephine [Jo] Ford, daughter of Josephine Ford, Edsel and Eleanor's only daughter.  She married John Ingle, Jr., on June 26, 1971 in Grosse Pointe Farms, MI. Her gown, designed by Walton-Pierce Company in Grosse Pointe, was white embroidered Swiss silk organza with a high neckline and short puffed sleeves.  Her veil was attached to a headpiece of embroidered silk organza.

[Photo Courtesy of Century of Love, Ford House]

Wedding gown of Lynn McNaughton Ford, daughter of Benson Ford, Sr., and Edith McNaughton Ford.  She married Paul D. Alandt in June 1975 in Grosse Pointe Farms, MI. Lynn's embroidered silk organza gown featured long, slender sleeves ending in fluted organza.  She wore a cathedral-length French silk illusion veil with a cathedral train.  The gown was designed by Walton Pierce of Grosse Pointe.

[Photo Courtesy of Century of Love, Ford House]

The first wedding of Edsel and Eleanor Ford's children was Henry Ford II to Anne McDonnell on July 13, 1940 at Southampton, Long Island, New York.  The Catholic wedding was said to be 'the wedding of the century.'  There were 1,100 guests in attendance including John F. Kennedy [Jack] who was a Harvard student at the time and dated one of Anne's sisters.  JFK's sister, Kathleen, was one of the bridesmaids.

The designer of Anne's gown is unknown, but the New York Times wrote "the bride wore a girlish gown of white tulle, very simply made", with transparent sleeves, long white gloves, a "voluminous veil" and long train.

[Photo courtesy of Century of Love, Ford House]

Benson Ford, the second son of Edsel and Eleanor, married Edith McNaughton on July 9, 1941 in Grosse Pointe Farms, MI.

The designer is unknown, but the gown had sheer sleeves and a bolero jacket.  It was made of white silk marquisette - a fine, gauzy fabric - over satin, and trimmed with princess lace. The skirt had bands of lace and was finished with a very long train.

[Photo courtesy of Century of Love, Ford House]

Edsel and Eleanor Ford's only daughter, Josephine Clay Ford, married Walter Buhl Ford [no relation] on January 2, 1943 in Grosse Pointe Farms, MI.  The reception was held at the home of her parents.

Her gown was designed by American designer Mainbocher, and featured a hooped skirt, embroidered with seed pearls and silver thread.  Her veil was held in place by a coronet of seed pearls and crystal.  Her bouquet of white violets, and her white satin mitts added to the quaintness of her bridal ensemble.  

[Photo courtesy of Century of Love, Ford House]

The fourth and final gown was worn by Martha Firestone, granddaughter of the founder of Firestone Tire Company, who married Edsel and Eleanor's youngest son, William Clay Ford on June 21, 1947 in Akron, Ohio.  It was said to be the biggest society wedding in Akron's history.

Martha's Belgian ivory lace gown was designed by Currie Munn, a fashionable New York designer. The long veil extended to the end of the train.

While Anne, Edith and Josephine are deceased, Martha is still living [91 years old], and very active.  The docents said they see her frequently at Ford House.

[Photo courtesy of  Century of Love, Ford House]

The gate house as seen from inside the estate before exiting.  It was a full day at Ford House. I hope you enjoyed visiting the wedding gown exhibit with me, vicariously. For local readers, I highly recommend seeing this exhibit.  It's the only way to fully experience the beauty of the gowns, and well worth the time.  The exhibit is open thru November.  This lengthy post was primarily for readers unable to attend the exhibit, and a visual memory of my visit. It's the closest I'll ever come to attending a Ford wedding!  ;-)


  1. Thank you for sharing this! I love the gowns and seeing the photos of the brides in their gowns!

  2. Beautiful gowns. Thank you so much for sharing this. Blessings, Martha

  3. These posts have been so interesting, Phyllis. And what a fun outing to share with your daughter!

  4. What beautiful gowns! I especially liked seeing the photos of the brides wearing them, along with the photos of the gowns themselves. I'm sure the exhibit was breathtaking in person - thanks for sharing it with those of us unable to attend.

  5. What a lot of research you've done! Very interesting!

  6. I got married there earlier this year and cannot say enough positive things about the entire experience of working with their manager and the service, food and venue. The coordinators from wedding venues managed my wedding, and were impeccable wedding Angels.

  7. As a vintage fashion enthusiast, I can't thank you enough for your detailed and very interesting take on this exhibit. So glad you and your daughter got to see this exhibit and thank you for taking the time to write about it as well as to include all these great photos! From one Phyllis to another Phyllis.... ;-)


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