When I was preparing to get married, my wish was to wear my mother-in-laws wedding dress. My own mom’s wedding dress was out of the question because my parents got married shotgun style. Catholic + pre-marital sex in 1966 = pink suit. My MIL’s dress was gorgeous. I mean it. It was made of the most exquisite Chantilly Lace, with beautiful long lace sleeves. The skirt was hooped like Cinderella’s ball gown. It was every young bride’s dream.
When I shared this wish with her, the woman couldn’t run fast enough up the stairs to the attic to retrieve it. I think the gesture made her happy. After all, she is the mother of 4 boys and none of them like to wear women’s clothing. To my knowledge anyway.
It was stored for well over 30 years in a large black garbage bag. Rolled up in a ball. I don’t blame her. What else was she supposed to do? And remember, she had 4 boys. I ran into the bathroom to try it on. I could barely get the arms up. And zipper it? I’d need a crow bar. I was 122 pounds and pretty damn fit at the time. All I could wonder was what did this woman eat? Cabbage? For every meal?
Besides that, it wasn’t in great shape. The lace was torn as if it lost a fight with a paper shredder and had started yellowing like old teeth. My heart lurched. I was incredibly disappointed. But there were options.
At a bridal expo I had recently attended, I met a man who preserved old wedding gowns. I can’t remember exactly what we paid, but it was a bit pricey. The dress came back with the same tears and it may not have been as yellow as old teeth, but it sure wasn’t white either. Not even close. And I did not want to be an ecru wearing bride.
Her dress was a Fink Brother original. Lucky for us, they had a store in the big city. We schlepped down there one day to meet with Mr. Fink himself. He remembered that gown and told us the lace came from France and resembled a large round tablecloth with just a hole in the center for the waist. No seams. I could have the lace replaced but it would cost thousands. Thousands I did not have. And since I didn’t have any rich uncles laying around, I had to give up my dream gown.
This is what I wore instead:
Not exactly Cinderella’s ball gown, but it did the job. And it was white. MIL’s dress is neatly folded in a box in an upstairs closet. I should have made a Christening gown out of it, but I couldn’t bring myself to cut it up. Who knows? Maybe the kid will pay thousands to get new lace. Anybody have any rich uncles they’d like to share?