Originally created 05/16/04

Wedding to celebrate historic 1924 union



Tessa Boyle has taken the wedding adage "something old" to new heights.

Ms. Boyle and her fiance, Clayton Abbey, will be wed Saturday as part of the 18th annual Beech Island Heritage Day in a ceremony that re-creates a mock wedding held on the Sand Bar Ferry bridge in 1924.

From 1920s era gowns, suits, headdresses and automobiles, the couple, chosen from eight potential pairs for the period wedding, will exchange vows in front of a crowd of as many as 10,000 visitors at Granville Plantation.

"That's a lot of people," said Mr. Abbey, with a hint of disbelief.

Ms. Boyle is also awed by the size of the event.

"Ever since I was little, I wanted a big wedding with a bunch of people, but I never imagined it would be this big," she said.

She also never thought it would be possible.

After her mother died, Ms. Boyle said, she had little hope of her father being able to walk her down the aisle.

"We didn't have the money for it," she explained.

With her job as a hostess at Eejays' Restaurant in Aiken and Mr. Abbey's work installing vinyl siding, it would be difficult to arrange for a wedding ceremony with all the trimmings and trappings.

On the suggestion of her father, who saw a "couple needed" solicitation for the 1924-style wedding, Ms. Boyle contacted the Beech Island Historical Society about taking part and got the call back that she had been selected.

"I told my dad this is like a dream come true," she said. "It's going to be exciting."

That's the same feeling that Joan Harrison is experiencing.

"Every year we try to have a different theme that will attract people to come in," said Mrs. Harrison, who is coordinating the wedding. "I had no idea this thing would get to be so big."

She has heard the buzz surrounding the day's events, especially the period wedding.

After she spent the past few months researching the original mock wedding, which was held to symbolize the joining of Augusta and Beech Island by the Sand Bar Ferry bridge, Mrs. Harrison said the process has been rewarding but challenging.

"It's really not that easy," she said. "I've remodeled one dress, and I'm making another and making the hats. We've tried to keep it as close (to historically accurate) as we can."

Except for the location (it would be hard to close down the current Sand Bar Ferry bridge to stage a wedding, Mrs. Harrison said), she has done just that.

The groom and his groomsmen will be in vintage suits, and Ms. Boyle's dress - a flowing gown embroidered with lace and beading and finished with a 4-foot train - came from an antiques shop in Aiken.

"It's beautiful," the bride-to-be said. "I fell in love with it."

Although Ms. Boyle and Mr. Abbey would have never suspected such a grand wedding would ever take place in their honor, they are optimistic and grateful for the opportunity.

"I'm excited," Mr. Abbey said, "but ask me in a couple of weeks what I really think of it."

Ms. Boyle said she is more eager than anything else.

"I just can't wait to see how it all turns out," she said.

Reach Kamille Bostick at (706) 823-3223 or kamille.bostick@augustachronicle.com.

want to go?

what: 18th annual Beech Island Heritage Day
where: Granville Plantation, 6198 Atomic Road
when: Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
events: 1924 Sand Bar Ferry wedding begins at 1 p.m.; re-enactment of the last Sand Bar Ferry duel starts at 2 p.m.; vendors, craftsmen, food, tours and music throughout the day
COST: Free admission, $1 parking fee