This is Mum and Grampa on her wedding day in November 1988.
Around 6 years ago, Mum and I were having one of those silly chats about my “dream wedding day”. She told me that she had saved her wedding dress for me to wear on my wedding day, however she’d since put it in the back of a closet and I didn’t know where it was. Then she passed away in 2018.
When we moved house last year, I came across her wedding dress in the closet and felt overwhelming emotion about it. I got it out and it felt so delicate, like I’d found a long-lost treasure. I stood in front of the mirror and held it up against myself, giggling to myself at how short the dress was (I’m 5’9” and Mum was 5’4”) and admiring how full and swooshy the skirt was. I knew through looking at photos of my Mum and Dad’s wedding that;
- Firstly, it just wasn’t my style – the 80’s Princess Diana influence was still going strong (note the puffy sleeves…)
- Secondly, my Mum was bigger than I am, so it was too big.
I was so touched that she kept it in pristine condition all these years for me to use one day, but I couldn’t exactly lug it around until I get married (a hoop skirt wedding dress in its box isn’t exactly rental friendly).
I wanted to find a way to keep something of it. I could perhaps keep a piece of material from it to use for myself one day, but the entire gown was silk with a lace overlay with pristine stitching so I couldn’t take anything from the main dress easily. I spent about two hours one afternoon just staring at the seams of the dress, working out which bit I could use. I got my sewing kit out and painstakingly unpicked and detached the continuous piece of lace that ran around the shoulder (like a peplum). Mum taught me how to use a needle and thread, sew and do simple alterations to garments, so this process made me feel connected to her. I detached the piece of lace and have kept it safe with her silk peony bouquet and her gorgeous beaded head piece for myself one day, they are all safe in my ‘Mum’ box.
I wasn’t sure what to do with the rest of it. However, I’m a huge believer in “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure” and I had this fantasy that if I shared it on a local community Facebook page, perhaps someone would stumble upon it and it would be their dream dress. About five minutes after I’d posted it online, a lady called Kirsty messaged me asking if she could have it and the reason she asked was just so beautiful that I could not say no; she hand makes burial dresses for babies who are premature, still born, or die shortly after birth.
I felt that this path was “meant to be” for Mum’s dress. Mum and Dad’s first born daughter, Krystyna, passed away at five months. After her death, Mum and Dad raised thousands of pounds for The Lullaby Trust which is a charity for those affected by Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. I think that Mum would be delighted to know that her wedding dress was being used to create something beautiful.
Kirsty soon messaged me after she’d collected the dress from me with an update of what she was working on. When I saw this image, it broke my heart because it was so beautiful, and I could never imagine the colossal heartache of losing a child. I cried for the parents who have lost a child, I cried for children who have lost parents, and I cried for my Mum.
“A wedding dress is both intimate and personal for a woman — it must reflect the personality and style of the bride.” — Carolina Herrera