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Say Yes to the Dress!

October 23, 2014

SAMSUNG CSCI received an email the other day from my Auntie M. Her attic was being reinsulated and the workers discovered her wedding dress from 1969. She had completely forgotten about it. Amazingly, it had not been eaten by moths or disintegrated, only yellowed. The reason she emailed me, she said, was because she knew I’d appreciate the story behind the dress.

Nana & I had gone shopping for wedding gowns and the beaded ones were so expensive, so we bought this one and Nana proceeded to hand bead the dress and the train with hundreds of tiny pearls and seed pearls. It truly was a labor of love, but just one more that she did lovingly,” wrote Auntie M.

My aunt was right. I did appreciate the Nana story and once again being reminded of her dogged determination. Nana may not have had the money for the dress her daughter wanted, but she had the resolve to make her something damn close.

SAMSUNG CSCThe second reason my aunt emailed was to ask if I (the organizer) had any ideas about what to do with the dress. My customary answer to anyone who asks what to do with a used wedding dress is “sell or donate.” Why keep something you only wear once that takes up so much room?

So, with the same determination as her mother had had sewing the beads, my aunt attempted to get the dress into fighting shape. Having been boxed up for 45 years, Auntie M spent eight hours on Sunday soaking and rinsing the dress. The result? White. Wedding white.

white dressBut after Auntie M sent me the before and after pictures, something happened. Suddenly this was no longer just some wedding dress (I should point out my aunt divorced her first husband, so no need to cue sentimental memories), it was now a testament to hours and hours of my grandmother’s handiwork. Just like the multicolored, hand-knitted afghans she made that most everyone in our family has that doesn’t match any room in our homes, but does make us think of her as we’re cuddled beneath it.

So while I’m still gung ho for getting rid of used wedding dresses, I will admit that sometimes when it comes to sentimental stuff, sometimes you’ve got no choice, but to keep it.

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9 Comments
  1. Love this story! And yes, if an item has sentimental value, its worth keeping. there’s plenty of other stuff to chuck or donate! CL

  2. elaine toth permalink

    Loved the story..
    by the way I still have my mom’s wedding dress..tucked away down in the Jimmy Hoffa closet!!

    Cheers
    E

  3. mark schwartzbaum permalink

    great story- great job auntie m

  4. Make a couch or bed pillow as a memory. I made pillows out of an old quilt. Could also be done with a dress and the lovely beads. Great story, keep some memories from it!

  5. Marilyn Solomon permalink

    Great story. I still have my wedding gown that has made it to 50 years this past Monday. I made 2 dresses from it using the train for one of them & I did wear them both. Great story! My Mom also made afghans for everyone, some have even been eaten by the dogs, but they still keep us warm & we will always remember her just like you remember your “Nana”. Be well. 😍

  6. Debra Topilow permalink

    Wow! Great story. You could dye it and wear it to a fancy dress party.

    Date: Thu, 23 Oct 2014 16:38:12 +0000 To: debra@topilow.com

  7. Auntie M permalink

    I never knew what had happened to this dress & was delighted to find it so many years later. Thanks for sharing the story. After the dress dried I took it to a dry cleaners where it will be sealed up tight with beads showing through a window type opening. It’s definitely a family heirloom. Any takers?

  8. Shelly Cohen permalink

    Great story. Forgot how beautiful the dress was ( still is). When I cover my grandkids with Nana’s afghans I always think how she is gone but her handiwork still lives on and keeps all of us warm. Nana did an incredible job on the dress and none of us can part with any of her beautiful works. Each blanket, each sweater, each tablecloth brings back a host of wonderful memories. Some items are worth keeping- this is one……….

  9. Richard Aberson permalink

    Dogged determination sure is the “Hallmark” of your family and I’d definitely would keep it for future generations.

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