Something OLD, Something NEW
Historical bridal museum recalls the romance of the Victorian era.
written by - Jeannie Biosh

Within these cheerful cottage walls, a century's worth of bridal gowns awaits delighted visitors.

With the arrival of Valentine's Day comes the reminder that spring is not far off. Flowers in bloom, love in the air and wedding invitations to be mailed bring back the excitement of youth, romance and the chance to start anew.

The House of Victorian Visions Bridal Museum, located in Orange, California's Old Towne District, offers more than just nostalgia in nuptials -- it's the only museum in the western United States offering a permanent collection of antique bridal gowns and accessories.

Eve Faulkner, the museum's owner and creator, has spent the last 15 years sharing and teaching Victorian wedding traditions. Faulkner's passion-turned-hobby began in the early 1980s when she and her husband, Rick, were raising foster children in a former boarding house. It was then that they started opening their parlor to host wedding receptions as a creative solution to raising money for their church. Twelve years later, they had hosted more than 800 nuptials.

Eve Faulkner welcomes visitors and brides-to-be from near and far. "Women learning about women is the primary reason I created the museum," she says.

It wasn't just a Victorian setting that the Faulkners provided for their customers. "The brides began asking what Victorian women wore on their wedding day.That was the beginning of a lifelong research project for me, which rekindled my personal love of weddings and the rich, formal customs of the Victorian era," Faulkner explains. Located in a charming 1894 cottage, Faulkner's House of Victorian Visions Bridal Museum is open to the public and offers brides-to-be the opportunity to embrace the era and apply its traditions to their own journey down the aisle.


The experience begins with the Queen. Her Majesty Queen Victoria, with her portrait greeting visitors in the museum lobby, was indeed the author of the era. "She was also the first bride to wear white. Her gown was made of white satin and Honiton lace," recounts Faulkner. "Until then. women simply chose their most formal dress, which was any color. Victoria herself defined the white wedding." Then follows a host of traditions. "The Victorian wedding was rich in symbolism," explains Faulkner, pointing to a glass case displaying an original Lady Bru bust, with a wax orange blossom headpiece typical for the time. "Flowers and fruit were symbols of fertility, and anchors on the bride's stockings signified hope as well as strength in the marriage -- or 'no more free sailing,'" Faulkner jokes.

Beyond large double doors awaits the main exhibit area, a pretty rose-colored room with intricate stencil work and an exquisite chandelier.