Married to Society


President Maggie Rosenblum and Vice President Emmy Yambrek smile for the camera.

In mid-December, teenage girls swarm the Peabody Hotel as they get married into society in their beautiful white ball gowns. Junior Cotillion has been a Memphis tradition for over 90 years. Cotillion invites juniors and seniors from Hutchison School, St. Mary’s Episcopal School, and any other girl who is related to a member of cotillion. Girls wear wedding dress-like ball gowns to symbolize getting “married to society”. The cotillion ceremony introduces juniors as new members of society and invites seniors back to enjoy their year in society before they go to college.

Each year Junior Cotillion picks a charity for its members to give back to with monetary funds and volunteering. President Maggie Rosenblum and Vice President Emmy Yambrek felt that it was very important to give back to those in the homeless community as they have lost and suffered a lot during this pandemic. Each member of cotillion contributed by making care packages including: socks, gloves, deodorant, lip balm, hand warmers, and other necessities that will help the homeless get through this winter safely.

The president and vice president of Cotillion has to manage the budget, respond to emails, send forms, order the food, book a band, and have any other extra details ready for the big night. This year, Maggie was also given the extra job of addressing all of the invitations with her business, Maggie’s Lettering. Maggie and Emmy describe the characteristics of the Cotillion president to be respectful, responsible, creative, and “kind because it is one of the most important qualities to have”. When choosing a president for next year, seniors had to think about which Junior possessed these qualities to be a great president for next year.

The senior class votes on the president and vice president for the following year, keeping in mind the qualities listed. The President alternates years between St. Mary’s and Hutchison. For example, this year St. Mary’s was the president and Hutchison was the vice president, and next year Hutchison will be president and St. Mary’s will be President. At the Cotillion rehearsal, Maggie and Emmy announced the upcoming President, Callie Hutton, and her Vice President, Gracie Shy. They were so excited to hold this new role and be apart of organizing and planning cotillion for next year.

The day of cotillion can be very exciting and stressful as girls are getting ready to be presented into society. Many people get their hair and makeup done and get ready with their friends. “The whole day was so exciting, especially knowing what the end of the night had in store.” recalls Ella Woodmansee. While the girls are getting ready for the ceremony, volunteers are helping with putting the ribbon name cards on the seats, putting a program on each seat, and placing the flowers in the perfect spot.

Getting ready for the big day requires multiple important decisions. Picking out the perfect dress is equally stressful and fun. Each girl needs to find their idea of a perfect dress that is simple but unique. Girls started finding dresses late September in anticipation for the event. Another equally important choice in preparation for Cotillion is choosing an escort. Escorts need to be someone who is responsible and shows up adequately and on time. Maggie’s advice is to “bring someone that you will never look back and regret bringing because its a really fun night. You never want to feel nervous but be comfortable and have a great time.”

McCadden Wilbourn says, “It was so nerve racking being presented in front of the big crowd” but adds, “The best part is walking out with your friends at the end to celebrate a fantatsic and memorable night.”