August 22, 2011

my mother's dress.

Planning our wedding--or beginning to, anyway--has been incredible. For one thing, I love to plan. I love to make lists and organize binders, to zero in on details, to talk colors and fabrics and flowers and themes. There are girls who adore weddings and there are girls who just don't care so much. (I'm most definitely one of the former.) And visiting venues, talking to photographers--it was fun and exciting, but everything still didn't quite feel real. For whatever reason, there was still some sense of distance between what I was planning and those things actually happening.

Then, yesterday, I tried on my mother's wedding dress.

The two of us lifted the box from a top shelf in the upstairs closet, already giddy and curious, wondering whether it might fit and whether it would look the same on me as it did on her twenty-seven years ago. We set the box on my bed, raised the lid, and gasped: there's just something about a wedding dress, particularly one that's been preserved, that's both stunning and eerie, both breathtaking and a bit jarring... Sap that I am, I was already fighting back tears.

I stepped inside the first part of the dress and looked down, running my fingers over the lace as she buttoned up the back. It fit like a glove. The perfect length, the perfect size--as if, truly, it had been altered to fit my body. By now, of course, we were crying. The happiest, most joyful, sentimental tears.

She lifted the next piece of the dress--an airy sort of backwards jacket that adds sleeves--from the box. Next, there was the hat. (Remember: It was the 80's.) It's a beautiful hat, one covered in beads and lace, and she tilted it on the back of my head so that the white brim seemed to frame my face. 

I looked in the mirror.

And for just a moment, I saw part of a memory I'd never had. I saw the woman in the large wooden frame at the center of our mantle, the woman I'd never known but recognized instantly. I saw in myself, for just a moment, my mother before she was my mother.

There aren't words for that kind of moment. There's nothing I can say to do that scene justice. And the truth is, there are several pieces of my parents' wedding that will be part of mine too, but the dress has never been one of them. We've never planned for me to wear her dress--yesterday was more like practice for today, since we have an appointment at a bridal salon where I'll be trying on any and every style of wedding dress they have to offer.

But hers was first. Hers was the dress that made me first feel like a bride, like a woman preparing to be a wife. Radley's wife. And that moment--that realization--will forever be one of my best.


Ryan Adair said... [Reply to comment]
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ryan Adair said... [Reply to comment]

Beautiful Story! Made me wish my mom was on the same coast. Happy dress shopping! :)

I also love planning. I can't wait to be a future Mrs.

Ryan @ thismustbetheplaceryan ">

Alli said... [Reply to comment]

This is so beautiful. The way you write about this really touched me and I'm so glad that you shared. My own mom passed away just over three years ago and I'm planning my wedding now. I'll never get to share these moments with her but I do have her dress. I told my dad to save it because I'd like to have some part of it in my own wedding such as a bouquet wrap. I'm glad you had such strong feelings because it means a lot to me to know that you appreciate your mom being there. Hope you have many more wonderful moments while planning your wedding!

Tucker said... [Reply to comment]

what an incredible moment!! Cheers to many many more as you plan your sure to be beautiful wedding!xo

L!$@ said... [Reply to comment]

What a beautiful story! :D Good luck planning it all.

Mandy said... [Reply to comment]

what an awesome post!

missy. said... [Reply to comment]

what an amazing experience. i'm so happy you were able to share this with us. xoxo

Kate said... [Reply to comment]

This got me all choked up! I just love weddings!

Annie said... [Reply to comment]

Awww! That's incredible! That's a moment you'll surely cherish for the rest of your life.

When I was a kid, I wanted to wear my mother's wedding dress for my own wedding. And then she told me that she gave it to her sister to wear in her wedding, and doesn't know what happened to it after that. So my plan ended there. (It would've ended anyway since my mother and I have greatly differing senses of fashion. After all, she, too, got married in the 80s.)

But reading your post made me realize that I wish she still had her dress, so that I could as least see, and maybe try it on myself. There's just something about a dress that a girl's mother wears to her wedding, and for me, knowing that she wore it to cement and celebrate a decision from which she's never wavered, one of those decisions she's always known she made right.

Jasmine said... [Reply to comment]

Beautiful story, thanks for sharing. Just recently my mam told me some of her youth adventures and I suddenly realized how much we had in common and how similar her life was to the one I'm living currently. I'm really looking forward to those moments!

Wish you a lot of fun trying on all these beautiful dresses and hope you'll find the right one!

Irene said... [Reply to comment]

this is SO beautiful - I loved the way you worded it all, it almost seemed like we were in the room with you, watching you put on piece after piece of your mom's history. definitely a teary eyed blog reading, in the best of ways!

Jennifer Rod said... [Reply to comment]

such a beautiful moment. im so excited for you.

Ariel said... [Reply to comment]

I love this! So lovely!

Cat said... [Reply to comment]

Oh my goodness ... what a beautiful moment ... amazing!

❤ Cat brideblu

s a m said... [Reply to comment]

oh laura - what a moment. This entry is one of your best.

& I love this line : "And for just a moment, I saw part of a memory I'd never had."

Elizabeth and Kyle @ Love Is the Adventure said... [Reply to comment]

This post makes me so happy. I'm posting a link to it on my facebook so other people can come find you and read it. I hope that's okay - it's just so well-written. What an incredible moment!!

inastorminmybestdress said... [Reply to comment]

What a beautiful moment, this made me so happy. Congratulations on getting engaged, you guys are adorable!

nancy said... [Reply to comment]

wow. goosebumps!

Becca Boo said... [Reply to comment]

I'd love to see a scanned photo of your mom in it!!!