I remember very clearly looking through family photos at my grandparents’ house as a small girl, and asking my grandma if she still had her wedding dress. At 8 or 9 years old, I already had it in my head that I wanted to wear her dress when I got married.
My grandma explained to me that one of my uncles had found some matches and started a fire when he was 5 years old, and the dress was among the things that were lost. I wonder now what emotions my question had stirred up – she certainly didn’t express them to me. Obviously, the fact that nobody got hurt far outweighed the loss of any dress. But as a kid, to me, the fact that dress no longer existed was tragic.
The romantic notion of wearing my grandmother’s wedding dress is kind of funny considering that, growing up, I attended the weddings of my mom and stepdad, and my dad and stepmom, and it never once occurred to me to wear one of their dresses. My mom’s was white and lacy and very ’80s – perfect at the time, but not something I would consider wearing in 2008. (Not to mention, I outgrew my mom somewhere around junior high.)
My stepmom wore a blue suit – something she would wear to her corporate job, and probably did. At 8 years old, this was a disappointment – I was expecting something white and foofy. Older and wiser, I now understand that weddings should be about what is important to the bride and groom, and don’t need to conform to someone else’s (or society’s!) expectations. But in any case, it wasn’t for me.
Mr. G proposed to me in September of 2007. Not long after, two friends came to spend a weekend with me, and one of them was also engaged, so we planned to spend some time looking at dresses. I had called ahead to the first store with a list of dresses I wanted to try on so they would have them ready, but when we walked in the door, I fell in love with the first dress I saw. It had just arrived that week, and wasn’t on my list. It was more than I had budgeted for, but I didn’t want to take it off. I tried on the others on my list, and didn’t like anything else nearly as much. And that was that.
Our wedding was an amazing day, and I had a wonderful time in that dress. Of course, I couldn’t know for sure then if I would ever have daughters, but I spent the money to have it carefully cleaned and boxed, just in case.
I have one friend who wore her wedding dress to Thanksgiving dinner the year she got married – the other married women in her family did the same. She said it seemed a shame not to wear it every once in a while. Other people I know have gotten theirs out to see if they still fit, or let their kids try them on. Meanwhile, I’m afraid to let mine out of the box.
This week, a friend posted on her Facebook page a link to Brides Across America. “I am honored to donate my wedding dress to such a worthy cause; gifting military wives with free wedding dresses for their big day,” she wrote. I am so attached to my dress, that I was humbled by her generosity. I told her that her decision was probably easier to make as the mom of two sons. She acknowledged that was true. “Either way, I had a great time in the dress and wanted to share it with someone who deserves a good time too.”
I agree with the cause, and the sentiment, but I still don’t think I could let mine go so easily. I can only hope that one day one of my girls wants to dance in it, too. And if not, well, maybe I’ll have a granddaughter someday …