Monday, December 31, 2012

The dress

I'm just back from a week in Texas celebrating the holidays with some of my favorite people. Now I'm back and ready to ring in the new year in New York (the NYE hotspot for those who like cold weather, big crowds, and super expensive covers at all bars--which, it turns out, is a lot of people). As today is the last day of the year, it also means the official end of my self-sanctioned wedding planning reprieve. You know, because I'll be so much more ready to tackle everything in 2013 as it's coincidentally also the year I plan to get organized, learn to invest, and write the dramatic second and thirds acts (well and the latter part of the first) of a screenplay. Now that I've had a few months off, I'm pretty pumped about figuring out the logistics (although, again, I promise to not make this into a wedding planning blog, because I now know that's really a thing). One of the things I was hopeful to check off my list early was the wedding dress. I found something perfect (although somewhat different from what I'd originally envisioned) that I'm really excited about. But this post is not about that dress.

While I was visiting my family in Arlington, my mom's cousin came over and we started talking about wedding dresses. She mentioned her own wedding dress as being ideal for a summer farm wedding. It was the same dress that I'd been reminded of a few weeks earlier when visiting my uncle in DC. My mom's cousin was not the first wearer of the dress. It graced its first wedding in 1908 when it was worn by my great grandmother. It was then worn by my grandmother when she got married. (She and my grandfather have been married now over 70 years.) Two of her daughters, including my mom, have worn the dress at their weddings. And then in addition to my mom's cousin wearing it at hers in (I believe) the early 80s, it has, over the years been worn by bride characters in two different plays. I know most of this because another aunt, who did not wear the dress, recorded the whole history and distributed it to the family. Definitely a worthwhile undertaking, but considering how long it took my mom and I to find that history, I thought it might be worth recording the story here as well.

Anyway, during the conversation, it became apparent that the dress itself was actually present in my aunt's home, carefully store in an archival box. My mom's cousin insisted I try it on as a possibility. The handmade lace was a bit torn in places, and I could tell before I put it on that it had probably seen its last wedding. But it was beautiful and, considering it came from 1908, it was remarkably well-preserved. It involved a couple of layers and a petticoat, and one of the layers had a turtleneck that felt a little like it was choking me. Nevertheless, I'm glad I got the chance to try it on and join the many admirable, and evidently slender-necked, women who have worn it before me.

Here is my somewhat poorly scanned copy of the photo of my grandmother wearing the dress. The inset is a picture of her mother wearing it. 

My mom wearing the dress.

And here's me, as of last week, with my grandmother. As you can see the sleeves were shortened at some point, and the sash was an addition of my mom's cousin.
While it won't be worn in my wedding, it's a beautiful heirloom. I have a sneaking suspicion my own dress won't have quite that staying power. At any rate, I want to wish all my readers a Happy New Year! May 2013 bring great things and one more unproduced screenplay in the world!


  1. What a beautiful story! I don't think we have anything like that in my family. I hope the dress continues to be preserved even if it is not used in a wedding.

  2. It looked gorgeous. Maybe it could be worn to just walk down the aisle. Then change for reception and any where you had to actually move around. Have two wedding dresses. Might at least be fun for a onetime photo.

  3. Lovely post! I'm glad we got the picture of you in the dress. Mom

  4. Thanks for posting. I really wanted to see a photo of you in the dress.

  5. What a cool story! It's amazing how that dress is still in such good condition. I am also happy with the dress you will be wearing on your wedding day!