150-year-old wedding

Published 9:20 pm Saturday, October 1, 2011

Civil War wedding: Harriet and Jimmy Hall leave their wedding ceremony under a row of sabers held up by members of the 19th Virginia Cavalry unit of Civil War re-enactors, of which they are both members. The entire ceremony, from the invitations and gown to decorations and dancing, was Civil War-themed.

It’s been 150 years since the start of the Civil War, but it didn’t seem like it on the Shibui Ni Farm in Whaleyville on Saturday.

But for the cars that brought guests to the farm and the golf carts that transported them from the field where they parked, the entire event could have easily taken place at the beginning of the War. But in fact, it was an entirely different kind of beginning — the beginning of a marriage.

Jimmy and Harriet Hall tied the knot at the farm with about 60 family and friends in attendance. Many of the guests, as well as the bride and groom, are members of the 19th Virginia Cavalry unit of Civil War re-enactors.

Email newsletter signup

All the re-enactors and several other guests came dressed in period clothing. The dirt-floored shelter marked with hoof prints was modestly decorated with neutral-colored flower arrangements. The bride and groom exited under a row of crossed sabers held by members of the 19th Virginia Cavalry. Period dancing was held during the reception. Even the invitations featured a pair of crossed sabers.

The bride chose a Victorian-style dress with a high neckline, ornate beading, full sleeves and a long train to match the theme.

But the wedding didn’t go off without a hitch — hitched horses, that is. The groom and the rest of his unit rode in on their horses, and the bride, bridesmaids and flower girl arrived in a horse-drawn buggy.

It was an appropriate ceremony for a couple that met while doing Civil War re-enactments. Jimmy Hall even proposed to his bride at the campfire during a re-enactment.

“It was quite by accident,” Harriet Hall said of how she met her new husband. “Jimmy and I are both Civil War re-enactors. I had seen him previously when he was with the New York 7.”

The couple found themselves in the same unit together, and then she started giving him riding lessons.

“I’ve taught riding lessons for the last 30 years, and he was interested in learning how to ride,” she said. “We kind of developed a friendship and soon discovered we wanted to be more than just friends.”

When he proposed at the campfire, he put the ring on her finger before he popped the question.

“He didn’t give me much choice,” she jokes now. “But I would have said yes anyway.”

The entire unit was so happy for them, she said, that they insisted upon the theme.

“They said, ‘You can’t get married and not have a Civil War wedding,’” she said. “We thought about it and decided that would be the only way we could do this.”

It’s the third wedding the unit has participated in, commander David Fay said. But the other weddings were only Civil War enthusiasts, not members of their own unit. It was different this time.

“The ceremony is really great when it’s one of the family members,” he said. “In this case, both of them.”

The bride’s daughters, Linzey Drye and Jaime Pease, said the ceremony was beautiful.

“It’s different,” Drye said. “I’ve never experienced anything like it.”

As for the couple, they were relieved their big day had gone as planned.

“I think it went really well,” Harriet Hall said.

Her husband, who appeared just as nervous as his horse when he dismounted at the site of the ceremony, said they couldn’t have done it without family and friends.

“We had a lot of friends and family helping us out,” Jimmy Hall said.