Couples can renew vows with Louis Lorimier re-enactor at the Red House

Thursday, June 1, 2006

The ceremony will use a script from one of Lorimier's weddings.

Debra Baughn's research into her family history unearthed an interesting nugget: Her ancestors were married by Cape Girardeau founder Louis Lorimier in 1801.

And, Baughn surmises, since there were no churches around, the nuptials very well may have taken place at Lorimier's home, the so-called Red House along the Mississippi River.

From those little bits of historical fact and conjecture, Baughn came up with an idea. Why not hold a wedding party at the Red House Interpretive Center, inviting married couples to renew their vows in much the same fashion as her ancestors took theirs?

"I just thought it would be a neat event to do at the Red House," said Baughn, who volunteers at the re-creation of Lorimier's home. "We also thought it would be a neat way to help celebrate the city's bicentennial. And we need the publicity."

The couples will recite vows at 2 p.m. June 24 in front of George Dordoni, who acts in traditional garb as Louis Lorimier, who was the French Canadian commandant. There will also be dulcimer music, wedding cake and drinks. The Red House will be decorated for a wedding as well.

Period dress is welcome but not required, said Jane Randol Jackson, chairwoman of the Red House Interpretive Center.

Jackson said couples should find it fun to renew their vows "the old-fashioned way."

The proceeds from the $10 charge will go into the Red House Foundation. Currently, the foundation has a little more than $21,000 in its coffers, but Jackson said the board would like it to reach $100,000. The interest from that amount could be used for repairs and to help fund other events at the Red House.

Jackson hopes as many as 10 couples will participate.

Dordoni, assistant director of international programs at Southeast Missouri State University, has been portraying Lorimier for almost a year now, starting with Libertyfest last year.

Dordoni puts on his best French Canadian accent, which he says he learned growing up in Miami, where he came into contact with many vacationing French Canadian tourists.

During the wedding ceremony -- which will take place in front of all the couples at once -- Dordoni will read from a script of one of Lorimier's weddings.

"It's been fun, and this will be fun," Dordoni said. "He was an interesting character, let's put it that way."

335-6611, extension 137

Want to say 'I do' again?

WHAT: Renewing your wedding vows with a Louis Lorimier re-enactor performing a traditional 1800-style ceremony.

WHEN: 2 p.m. June 24

WHERE: Red House Interpretive Center

COST: $10 per couple, with proceeds going to the Red House. Mail checks by June 17 to Red House Interpretive Center, A.C. Brase Arena, 410 Kiwanis Drive, Cape Girardeau, Mo., 63701

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