Kew Gardens Cemetery to Celebrate Its History with Mock Victorian Wedding

By Ewa Kern-Jedrychowska on April 24, 2014 7:00am 

Slideshow
 Maple Grove Cemetery in Kew Gardens will host a Victorian mock wedding in May.
Victorian events at Maple Grove
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QUEENS — This takes "Til death do us part" to a new level.

A Kew Gardens Victorian graveyard is hosting a mock wedding in an effort to share its history and celebrate the people who are buried there, the organizers said.

Maple Grove, founded in 1875, has a 25-acre Victorian section, according to Carl Ballenas, president of the Friends of Maple Grove.

During several events organized by the cemetery, “we honor many of the people at Maple Grove, but we also want to honor the Victorian era when the cemetery was founded,” Ballenas said.

Last year, the group organized a Victorian funeral tea party to talk about burial customs from the era.

This year, the group picked wedding traditions instead.

“We want to make it interesting and give it a historical twist,” Ballenas said.

During the mock wedding, which will be held on May 17, young actors will play Jonathan and Mary Coward, “pre-Civil War sweethearts who were separated by the war and married 50 years later,” Ballenas said.

The couple, whose real marriage lasted only a couple of years, is buried at Maple Grove, Ballenas said.

Ballenas decided to use the opportunity to also talk about photojournalist Jacob Riis and his wife, Elisabeth, who is buried at the cemetery.

This year marks the 100th anniversary of Riis’s death, Bellenas said.

Actors playing Riis and his wife will be the best man and the maid of honor at the wedding. Jonathan and Mary Coward will be "married" by a performer playing Rev. Charles Camp, who helped lay the cornerstone for the foundation of the Statue of Liberty, Ballenas said.

Camp is also buried at Maple Grove.

Weather permitting, the wedding will take place in the Victorian section of the cemetery, followed by a reception at the Maple Grove center.

There will be Victorian music and a lecture focused on love stories between people who are buried at the cemetery. Inside of a cake, which will be served during the event, guest can expect to find various surprises, Ballenas said, such as pennies, which mean a fortune for their finders, according to the beliefs of the Victorian era.

The weekend before, the cemetery will also hold its first ever Victorian hat making workshop.

The organizers will provide all supplies, including straw hat bases, ribbons, flowers and feathers, donated by Materials for the Arts, a program which gives free materials to nonprofits and public schools.

Ballenas said he hopes that people who will participate in the workshop, will also come to the mock wedding wearing the hats.

The workshop will take place on Saturday, May 10, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. ($25) The Victorian Wedding Tea will be held on May 17 at 2 p.m. Tickets: $30; $25 for Seniors; $20 for Members. To make a reservation and for more details, call 347-878-6614.

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