100 bridesmaids for one bride

Published 9:21 am Friday, August 17, 2012

FRANKLIN—Nearly every woman attending Lorraine Greene Whitehead and Tilghman Phelps’ wedding will be in the bridal party.

That’s because Whitehead plans to have 100 bridesmaids.

“I have quite a few committed already,” the 57-year-old Sedley woman said. “I asked one person, and her friend was beside her and said she wanted to do it, too.”

Whitehead’s fiancé loves the idea.

“I think it’s something unique and I think it fits her personality,” said Phelps, who also lives in Sedley. “She’s a person that loves everyone and she has so many friends.”

Whitehead and Phelps will marry on Saturday, March 16, at the Regional Workforce Development Center at Paul D. Camp Community College. They plan to have a St. Patrick’s Day theme.

There will be no rehearsal dinner.

There will be no matching bridesmaid dresses.

“The women can wear a dress they have in their closet and haven’t had a chance to wear again,” said Whitehead, a reading specialist and teacher-parent liaison for Southampton County Schools.

And there will be only two groomsmen — Justin Phelps, who is the groom’s son, and David James, the groom’s best friend.

“I’m more of a personal type of guy,” said Phelps, a 58-year-old Norfolk Naval Shipyard retiree. “I’m not as open as she is. It doesn’t matter where you go, she’s just open to everyone.”

The bridesmaids will walk down the aisle in twos. Each will carry a single-stem flower.

So far, 52 women have agreed to be in the wedding including matron of honor Cheryl Stepp, who is Whitehead’s sister.

At first, the 56-year-old thought her sister’s wish for 100 bridesmaids was a joke. Yet, it didn’t surprise Stepp, the office manager for Highground Services in Franklin.

“Lorraine has always been this fairy-tale person,” Stepp said. “She’s always played dress-up, and as a teacher, she dresses up for the kids. She’s been an Easter bunny and a witch — all kinds of stuff.”

Stepp has warmed up to the idea.

“Everyone is very excited because they get to be in a wedding and wear a dress they haven’t worn (in a while),” she said. “It’s going to be a fun, gala event.”

Stepp’s daughter, Mandy Hewett, 32, of Nags Head, N.C., also will be in the wedding.

Stephanie Muir was honored when Whitehead asked her to be in her wedding. She was shocked when she learned Whitehead wanted 100 bridesmaids.

“I believe if anyone would do something like that, it would be her,” said Muir, a math teacher at Southampton High School. “She’s just fun-loving and kind of eccentric in a good way.”

The 48-year-old Franklin woman will wear a maroon gown she wore in her sister’s wedding four years ago.