Wedding Dress Blues

photoWhen 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:

My dress is a Fink Brothers as well
My dress is a Fink Brothers as well

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?

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22 Replies to “Wedding Dress Blues”

  1. My gown was a Fink Bros. Original too. I have it boxed and under my bed where it has been for almost 30 years. Of course it isn’t the SAME bed and it isn’t in the same place it was 30 years ago but….Anyway, still love the dress. Thanks for posting!

  2. I had to laugh a little after reading, esp about the rich uncle part, only because my uncle worked for Fink Originals back in the early 60’s and 70’s and most likely designed a number of those dresses, his name is Robert N Work, but anyway, we always referred to him as our rich uncle because he was always on Brides Magazine when we were kids, anyway, glad to read what you wrote!

    1. I believe your uncle designed my wedding gown.
      You cleared something up for me. I thought his name was Robert Fink.
      I chose my gown in Modern Bride Magazine. Feb/March issue in 1977. I looked in stores and tried many on but not that one because they didn’t have it. I could have gone into NYC but it would have been such a hassle. I worked two jobs. Fresh out of college, I was broke too. No debts I paid off all my college bills as I went along in school.
      I walked into a very small local shop where I live. The owner came out and said I have just the gown for you!
      She came out of the back room, lo and behold it was the Fink gown from the petite collection that I had found in the magazine.
      I had the page folded up in my pocketbook and whipped it out. We had a good laugh. I tried it on and it was perfect. I was very thin, however unevenly proportioned. Flat on top and wider on bottom. The gown was I think a 7 petite. Unfortunately I lost weight and 3 days before the wedding Millie, the owner had to take the gown in.
      I think it was a sample gown. The label was torn out. Millie wouldn’t tell me. She charged me $249.00 plus alterations for the gown. I don’t know what it would have cost had it been with the label. The headpiece was $110.00. Millie was nice and gave it to me at cost, $60.00.
      I’m going to be married 40 years this August 6. Can’t believe how fast the years went by. I wasn’t looking this far ahead those days. I recently sent for that magazine on DVD.
      I found the ad for the gown as I threw mine out or it got lost in the shuffle. It was in black and white in the photo. It was very pretty.

    2. I wore a Fink wedding gown designed by your Uncle!
      The minute I saw it in the bridal magazine I knew it was “my gown”. It was absolutely stunning and I still love it.

  3. Omgosh Rebecca… Is Robert still around NYC? We worked together at Fink with Lenny, Carmella and Clarissa. 🙂 I was very present running his dresses across town in the garment district to the Modern Bride Magazine shoots! I think the contacts name was Bruce. Small world! 🙂

      1. It was! I left and missed the job terribly. I know at one point Carmella was sick and Lenny had decided to close shop … I’m not sure when he did as my last conversation with him was a long while ago. 🙂 The fabrics, the appliqués, the gowns were truly a piece of art 🙂

    1. I am another of Robert Work’s nieces and yes very sad to say he did pass away. So nice to know his beautiful dress will still be appreciated and passed on to new generations. I really had no idea how talented and respected he was in the business until he was gone and I spoke to many of his friends. I found a article where he was interviewed when he first started and his dream was to design beautiful dresses that all women could afford and that is what he did. He could of gone anywhere and made beautiful expensive dresses but his dream was to make every bride be beautiful. I dearly miss him

    1. I would love to see the photo I may have the original photo from the magazine. He saved everything I have photos and sketches of hundreds of dresses.
      Thanks momfeld for opening up the subject of fink originals it’s fun to hear stories of brides he made happy

      1. I’m so glad I wrote this post! I will have to upload a pic of my wedding dress as well. Currently, I am sitting on the couch and feeling bit lazy, but I will get to it this week. Thank you so much for your input. This has certainly been an interesting discussion!

      2. Oh wait, I just realized I did post my wedding dress in this blog post, as well as my mother-in-laws.I would love to see any pictures of your dresses, Angela and Sandy.

  4. I loved your story! My mother worked for Fink Brothers in the 60s and 70s, then later again in the 80s and 90s. Her gown was of course a Fink Original.
    She originally worked on sewing the gowns themselves. Later on she was a cutter, a piecer, she cut the lace and also made the buttons. Her best friend also worked at the factory, while her best friend’s mom worked in the Manhattan show room.
    So sad to hear that Robert passes away. I remember Lenny when I used to visit the factory, I think there was another brother, Artie maybe? I used to love to visit, I was fascinated by all those sewing machines whirring away making dresses. Big giant green sewing machines.
    Thanks for sharing your story.

    1. I love the dialogue happening here on this blog post. Very interesting and fun to hear all your stories about your experiences with the Fink Brothers. It’s so great to hear from you all!

    2. My mom worked at Fink Brothers also in the 60’s and 70’s in Brookyn, between Franklin St & West St. I do remember Lenny (and Artie too, I think) and also Jerome. Different times, indeed. Our mom’s had to know each other if your mom worked in that location. :- )

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