The Wedding Dress……

Shortly after a couple’s engagement announcement the bride’s wedding dress becomes the focus of everyone’s attention. The Mother of the Bride has dreams of shopping expeditions with her daughter. Whoever is monetarily responsible for the dress starts seeing dollar signs and wonders where it will end. The Mother of the Groom anxiously waits to see if she will be included in the selection process, anxiously makes broad hints regarding inclusion in shopping expeditions or does not care because she has daughters and knows she has had or will have a turn. This is only my observation of the MOG. I have alway been an MOB.

At one time custom-made wedding dresses or gowns were the norm. During WWI, the Great Depression and WWII, more formal wedding apparel was not the norm. During the late 1940’s and through the 1950’s wide-skirted formal gowns with waists, flounces, trains and long veils became the dream of most brides. The sixties found bridal apparel more informal with less frills, sequins and lace. The past forty years, or so, there are a wide variety of wedding dresses from which to choose. A bride can try on an assortment of styles until she finds one she likes and have it fitted to her specifications.

In honor of the new Duchess of Cambridge, I have gathered together an assortment of my family’s wedding gowns over the past sixty years. There is one picture of my cousin wearing the white shirtwaist our great-grandmother Myrtle wore on her wedding day. Grandma Dorothy fashioned a skirt and shawl to complete the outfit and cover up the fact that no one was really small enough to fit into Myrtle’s clothes.

I hope you enjoy the fashion show………

GGMa Myrtle’s shirtwaist early 1900’s is worn by my cousin at our
church’s Mother-Daughter banquet the year we had the bridal fashion show.

June 18, 1950 – This dress was first worn by my mother’s cousin earlier that year. My G’ma Dorothy altered the dress for my mother to wear. She carried a bouquet of flowers fashioned around a white Bible. Her sister was a junior bridesmaid and her sister-in-laws were candlelighters.

March 24, 1957 – My mother’s sister was the fourth bride to wear the gown. By this time my grandmother Dorothy had twice altered the dress. My aunt and uncle were the first bride and groom to be married in our church. This wedding was the day before my 6th birthday. I was a flower girl and loved every minute of the experience. There is an 8mm movie of the event somewhere. I love to watch it.

May 4, 1957 – My father’s sister and her bridegroom were the second couple to be married in our church. And there were still no pews for the guests to sit in. 1957 was a very good year for me. I was a flower girl twice, six weeks apart. Fun stuff!

1970 – My first wedding dress was made by my Aunt Mary. The dress had an empire waist with very nice lace sleeves and bodice. I reallly liked my veil, too.  My bouquet was fashioned around the same white Bible my mother had carried at her wedding. My littlest sister was my flower girl and next youngest sister and brother were candlelighters. My other two brothers were ushers. My sister closest to me in age was my Maid of Honor and my singing sister provided two solos. She sang “One Hand, One Heart” from West Side Story and “A Time for Us” the Love theme from Romeo and Juliet. You know I always wondered if the marriage was really legal, since the MOH was 16 when she signed the marriage certificate. If only I had looked into that, we might have saved a lot of time, trouble and money 25 years later. 

March 20, 1982 – My youngest sister was the second bride in my family of origin. Here she is with my next youngest sister. Aren’t they beautiful? My  oldest daughter was a candlelighter and the two younger ones were her flower girls/ring bearers. She, too, carried the white Bible bouquet.

November 1984 – My second to the youngest sister is wearing a beautiful fitted jacket over a long skirt she made herself. I love the way her veil complements her hair and dress. That is a ditto on the white Bible bouquet. I have always thought she was the most elegant of all of our brides. She is standing with our dad in the bride’s room we all used for our wedding dress-up party. Once again, my youngest daughter was a flower girl and the two oldest girls were candlelighters.

June 1985 – My sister Deb married her Air Force Captain in this beautiful dress. This dress was her second choice. The first one was being custom-made somewhere in the Phillipines and never did arrive. She scrambled and found one a month or so before the wedding. In this wedding my oldest daughter was a junior bridesmaid and the two younger ones were candlelighters. Keri knows how to light candles! There is a white Bible somewhere in there. This sister bride guilted me into singing “Whither Thou Goest” at her wedding. Ironically, her favorite arrangement of the song was the one sung at Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip’s wedding.

October 12, 1985 – My Aunt Mary’s oldest daughter was married in this beautiful gown. We had a great time at the wedding in Massachusetts. This cousin’s entry in the best wedding story hall of fame is about her new husband’s emergency room visit after he was stung by a bee in the park where the wedding pictures were being taken. He had to have his brand new wedding band cut-off because of the swelling. 

July 19, 1986 – Aunt Mary’s second daughter was married nine months after her sister, in her sister’s altered gown. Altering to share runs in the family. My family drove to Massachusetts for this wedding and had a nice two week vacation. One week for driving, wedding prep fun and wedding; one week at the cottage on Jeness Pond. In retrospect I am sure we drove my aunt crazy. Thanks again auntie M and cousin T, great party, good food, family memories are still with us.

May 29, 1993 – Our first wedding in the next generation was my middle daughter. Isn’t she beautiful? Her dress was princess style, very much like Ariel’s dress in Disney’s The Little Mermaid. She wore my veil and carried the white Bible, of course. Her two sisters were her attendants. My youngest sister’s son and my second youngest sister’s daughter were ring bearer and flower girl. At the rehearsal dinner, my nephew asked when he would get his bear costume. Still laughing!

August, 1997 – Youngest daughter’s first wedding dress. Her sister’s were her attendants and her cousins were her  candlelighters and flower girl. I like the way the veil headpiece is anchored at the back of her head and her hairdo was gorgeous. If you look close you can see the white Bible under the flowers she is carrying.

What are your family wedding memories? Right about now I am wondering if my mother had plans for her white Bible from the very beginning. It would be just like her ………..

©2011 Susan Kendall.  All rights reserved

About Lily

Born in Topeka, Kansas in the middle of the 20th Century, daughter, granddaughter, niece, sister, cousin, mother, aunt, grandmother, great-grandmother, friend, reader, spiritual, writer, cook, crafter, junker...... twice-married, former non-profit executive in retread mode... currently living a bucket list life in a remodeled schoolhouse.....
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