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This article is from the Encyclopedia of North Carolina edited by William S. Powell. Copyright © 2006 by the University of North Carolina Press. Used by permission of the publisher. For personal use and not for further distribution. Please submit permission requests for other use directly to the publisher.

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Womanless Weddings

by Lisa Brantley Kobrin, 2006Cast from "The Womanless Wedding," ca. 1890  Trinity College drama group. Image courtesy of Duke University Archives.

Womanless weddings, often staged by men's civic and fraternal groups, were popular entertainment in North Carolina and other southern states prior to the advent of television. They consisted of a mock wedding in which males dressed the roles of the entire wedding party, including the bride, mother of the bride, bridesmaids, and flower girl. These events were often fund-raisers, since many in the community were more than willing to pay admission to see their male neighbors in ridiculous female attire. Some organizations continue to stage womanless wedding fund-raisers.

"Tom Thumb" weddings, a "cousin" of womanless weddings, were also popular in the early primary grades of the state's public schools. These were usually yearly events in which the youngest students played the bride and groom and their classmates the wedding guests-many of them dressed as nursery rhyme characters.

Image Credit:

Cast from "The Womanless Wedding," ca. 1890  Trinity College drama group. Image courtesy of Duke University Archives. Available from https://www.flickr.com/photos/dukeyearlook/3176880865/ (accessed June 12, 2012).

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Comments

Comment: 

Hi; I'm 86 years old and at my former high school, the WK Kellogg School in Delton, Michigan the school presented a "Womanless Wedding" which was an incredible evening of fun. It was held on the big stage in the gym and there was an SRO audience. I was about 12 or 13 and I had a friend in it. There were several teachers and the baby in the buggy was a small man who was the school janitor. I have a professionally taken photo or two and would be happy to e-mail copies if you are interested. Thanks,
Donn J. Moyer, Tacoma, Washington.

Comment: 

please need help in getting a script of a womanless wedding

Comment: 

Hi Brenda -- thanks for visiting NCpedia and asking this interesting question.

Here are some sources that might help with some additional information -- and the second source from 1918 includes a script:

Hinson, Glenn, and William R. Ferris. 2009. The new encyclopedia of Southern culture. Volume 14, Volume 14. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press. 

Hunt, Mrs. James W. [from old catalog]. The womanless wedding Franklin, Ohio, Elridge Entertainment House. 1918. https://archive.org/details/womanlesswedding00hunt (accessed March 19, 2014). -- Includes a script

Depew, Arthur M. 1932. The Cokesbury party book: 52 planned parties with 60 games and stunts. New York: Abingdon-Cokesbury Press. 

Johnson, Theodore. 1928. Baker's stunt and game book. Boston: Walter H. Baker company. 

Good luck!

Kelly Agan, NCpedia staff, Government & Heritage Library

Comment: 

The photo refers to a Trinity College drama group. Trinity College became Duke University. Try contacting the Duke University archives through their website here:

http://library.duke.edu/uarchives/about/ask/index.html

Mike Childs, NCpedia, N.C. Government & Heritage Library.

Comment: 

I have a picture but no script. Is is possible to get a copy of the script of the Womenless Wedding?

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