Friday, January 27, 2012

The Wedding Dress: To have and to hold?

When I started the hunt for my wedding dress the mission parameter was simple: Spend as little as possible, wear it and sell it.

Being a bit of a tomboy, I never saw myself in a big boofy dress so it’s a mystery how I ended up at the bridal boutique at all, but when I put on that dress I felt like a princess and heard the voices of angels singing. That was it. The methodist utilitarian voices
of my upbringing were instantly quashed by the silent but sure realization that there was no other dress in the world.
Just this one.

As I write this, the dress is hanging up in the spare room. I haven’t dry cleaned it, haven’t folded it gently into a big lavish box, tied with a big bow. I have not swathed it in the recommended acid free paper. The only thing I have done is take to it with a scrubbing brush to remove the mud from the bottom. With the considerable circumference of the hem, lining and three layers of petticoat, that was a whole day of scrubbing. Even so, it’s in pretty good condition.
So now I have this big awkward thing that doesn’t fit in the wardrobe, is too tall for the coat rack, everywhere I put it it’s in the way of something and I worry that it will get knocked down, something will get spilt on it or it will get moldy or moth ridden. There is no good place for it. So it just hangs there.

But I am not ready to sell it.

A friend recently celebrated her ten year wedding anniversary and it was a delight to see her photos – still as gorgeous and in love as the photos from their wedding day ten years ago, and looking just as beautiful in that dress.

I remember a wedding dress fashion parade the staff put on at the rest home I used to work at. Residents and staff and their families donated old wedding dresses to be worn and paraded (in chronological order) for the occasion. The oldest dress was from 1923. My Mum was the only person who could still fit into her own wedding dress to model it. I was left with the last dress after everyone else had chosen - a puffed sleeve shiny lacy thing from the 80’sthat I thought at the time was hideous and is probably a vintage treasure!
So it becomes evident that for many people, it’s more than a dress, it’s an embodiment of the optimism, love and joy you felt at the time. Possibly the biggest investment of time and money you will ever put into an item of clothing, and probably the most memorable one. What also impresses me is the amount of pride, warmth and tenderness that comes with these sharing experiences.

So now I am asking myself, what would it take to sell it? What would I be giving up and what amount of money would make that worthwhile?

Fortunately for me, I don’t have to make a decision right now. I don’t’ regret buying this dress, because even if I never wear it again it is still worth every dollar I paid for it to feel as fabulous as I did on the day, and continue to feel in my photos and memories.
What did you do with your wedding dress? Do you still own it? Have you worn it or bought it out of storage since your wedding day? What about special clothing/costume you bought for other significant occasions in your life – your formal/ball gown? Graduation gown?


thePunk said...

your so sweet Claire! I think that you should wear it every now and then, sometimes jump on the bed or even wear it at breakfast time. my dress also undrycleaned sits at my parents house in a box. Needless to say it wasnt elaborate or expensive but thats irrelevant. its nice your mum can still fit hers. I cannot fit mine yet - I was a perfect size 8 back then. not worth selling because youll never make that much money for it and why let it go for song? i want my daughter to play with mine like I did with my mums until it was in tatters. literally. wearing her dress bought me so much pleasure.
Whatever happens to your beautiful dress. the memories will always remain!

Annelise said...

I adore your dress! Mine is in the same condition as yours - hanging up in the spare room taking up too much space - but I definitely want to keep mine. I just need to get around to having it professionally cleaned and boxed. I have the veil and shoes that my great-grandmother wore at her wedding in 1899, and the shawl that my great-great-grandmother wore at her wedding in 1867, and they are very precious to me. I'm so glad they decided to keep them and pass them down.

Vivi said...

Darling Clarie you looked so beautiful on your wedding day that it still brings tears to my eyes to remember it. Your dress is stunning but it was the person inside it that made it glorious.
My wedding dress is 11 years old now. Never dry cleaned and hanging in the spare wardrobe with plastic over it. My Mum made my dress and she believes that she was channeling my Nana when she made it (Nana was a seamstress by trade). So my dress will stay with me. I don't get it out, because honestly it's a sod to get back on the hanger, but I know it's there. And that makes me happy.

Rob Flattery said...

Were we Methodists?