The Morphing Wedding Dress

Ah, June! Anniversaries abound, including mine. Pictures of events from various decades posted on Facebook bring on an urge to tell the story of THE wedding dress.

Fortunately, its origin was in an era of the fullest skirts imaginable. I made the original version with twenty-five (yes, 25) yards of lace. The trick to getting all that fabric into the skirt was to take huge darts at the top and then gather the rest as tight as possible. I loved the dress as well as the guy I was marrying.

I didn’t get to see the next two versions since the Army had us too far away (New York City and Paris) to get back to Mississippi in days before one just hopped a plane for any occasion. Mama took the skirt off with plenty of fabric to play with and turned out two different versions for the next two sisters, Beth and Gwyn.

Being a little nearer (Fort Knox, KY) and with sheer determination not to miss all my sisters’ weddings, I made the last one. Mama transformed what looked like the last pieces of the lace once again for Ruth, the final sister. We were amused when news reports and pictures of Julie Nixon’s wedding dress came out shortly after the wedding and showed a version from some big-name designer. Mama could have sued for copying Ruth’s dress.  

The dress was not the only thing we had in common. Daddy performed all four ceremonies, and Papaw, the only grandparent we ever knew, gave us all away. The marriages, none of them perfect, all took. (My sisters are free to correct this assessment if they feel the need.) Two lasted more than four decades before completing the “until death do us part” promise, and the other two have passed their golden wedding anniversaries.

There were a few scraps from the wedding dress, passed on to me as the family hoarder. When our daughter began to plan her wedding, I asked the sisters for permission to use the last of the lace. They readily agreed, and I scrounged enough of the still beautifully white fabric to cover the bodice of her wedding dress and enhance the train and sleeves.

The one thing lacking in this tale is a good set of pictures. Three of us had photography issues. The best I can do is this offering of my picture where you can see the full skirt, taken by a cousin’s new black-and-white camera they had just bought for the bank where he worked; one of my daughter in her dress with the final relics of the lace, and a picture of the final version for the youngest sister hanging on my closet door, passed along once again to the family hoarder.

Having passed more than its projected points of usefulness, the time has come for that morphing wedding dress to disappear into the sunset. This hoarder bids it a nostalgic goodbye.

In less than an hour from my post, I do have a correction from a sister, but not about the perfection of the marriages. Beth made her own modifications for her dress (which I should have known) and sewed a fragment of the lace into a handkerchief for her daughter's wedding.