“Will you marry me?” my boyfriend asked me several months ago, and of course, I agreed. He is a great man. He works a basic job, but it pays the bills. He makes more than me, teacher pay is its own category of shitty, but I like my job. We decided to have our wedding in the summer so that I wouldn’t have to worry about getting a substitute, and we could immediately take our honeymoon.
July 17th feels a long way away and right around the corner. I have less than two months to alter my mother’s wedding dress. She married my father in 1989, and I admired their marriage. They had the utmost love and respect for each other. You would’ve thought they were always in their honeymoon phase. I want my marriage to be just like theirs. Sadly, my mother passed away a few years ago, but I feel she’ll be there with me by wearing her wedding dress.
“Jamie, are you ready yet?” My father calls. He came to pick me up so that we could go to the house and open my mother’s preserved wedding dress. We were waiting to open it until I had everything I needed to get started.
“Have a safe trip,” Adrian grumbles from the doorway. My fiance wants to come too, but I don’t want him to see the wedding dress before the wedding, even if it will be modified. I don’t want that bad luck hanging over my head. I wouldn’t say I’m superstitious, but for such a big event, I can’t help it.
I hold the pink floral box with a ribbon tied around it on my lap. My dad waits, trying to hide his anticipation, but his twiddling thumbs give him away. I take a deep breath and remove the ribbon. Inside is the gorgeous, off-white dress. The color has been preserved thanks to being so carefully packaged.
I take the dress into the other room to try it on. Luckily, it’s a zipper back, so that I can get it up with some struggle. I look in the mirror, and it fits perfectly. He tears up when I walk into the living room to show Dad. He has always been an emotionally open man.
“You look just like your mother,” he sniffles, looking over at their wedding picture framed on the wall. He’s not wrong. I have always been told I could be my mother’s twin. Besides my slightly darker hair and hazel eyes I inherited from my dad, I got all my facial features from my mom. She was a gorgeous woman, so I lucked out on my genetics. My dad is handsome, but I wouldn’t want his bulbous nose.
“You’re sure you’re okay with me changing this? I plan on changing a lot.” I already told him about the changes I would make while looking at their wedding pictures. I want to change the high neck into a plunging v-shaped neckline and turn the long poofy sleeves into a sleek, off-the-shoulder look. I plan to keep the A-line shape and length, just adding some lace details to the plain dress. It will look very different once I’m done with it, so I want to make sure Dad is positive he’s okay with me taking it.
“Yes, I’m sure,” he rubs his tears away and composes himself. “It’s what your mother would’ve wanted.” We take pictures of me wearing the unaltered dress before returning it to the box. The photos will help me visualize the changes I want to make for myself, but it’s also so that my dad can have some pictures of me in Mom’s original dress.
I don’t take the dress home, I don’t want Adrian to see it, and I can’t easily hide it anywhere. I know on my friend Vanessa’s door. We went to college together and met in a design class during sophomore year.
“Jamie!” She hugs me like we hadn’t seen each other in years, but I saw her two days ago. She’s extremely excited to work on this project with me. When we were younger and had more free time, we always went to thrift stores to buy clothes and upcycle them. Sadly, since I became an art teacher and she became a graphic designer, we haven’t had much time for casual upcycling projects.
I carefully arrange the dress on the mannequin and take a moment to absorb the image. Mentally map out where I’ll add the lace and how far I’ll cut the neckline. I get to work sketching a more detailed version of my concept art. Vanessa also draws some of her interpretations based on what I described. We compare our sketches, and I like how she illustrates the off-the-shoulder sleeves as sheer lace that flows into the neckline. After I modify my design to incorporate the lace sleeves, I’m rather pleased with it. Two heads are always better than one, and Vanessa has excellent ideas.
I pin the sketch to the corkboard and return home for the night. I need to review my Monday lesson plan, which is already late. In the meantime, I can trim the lace at home to add to the dress. I already have the template I want to use at home.
Over the next several weeks, primarily working on Friday nights and Saturdays, Vanessa and I worked on the dress. Adrian has been getting irritated, saying I was never home, but I know he understands. We’re both just stressed and have been arguing over small things. The lead-up to a wedding is always stressful due to all the planning, no matter the couple. I just have to add a few final touches to the dress, and next week I’ll be wearing it in our local church.
I try on my modified dress, and I am overwhelmed with emotions. It is better than I envisioned. It looks so different from Mom’s vintage dress, but I can still tell it was hers. Vanessa makes a few minor alterations while I wear it, and then we’re done. We’re finally done.
Dad walks down the aisle. ‘A Thousand Years’ is played on the piano for my entrance. Adrian’s blue eyes are watery, but he hasn’t broken yet. Unlike me, who is already tearing up as I get to the alter. His blonde hair is slicked back, and he wears a black vest over an off-white shirt. It is the most put-together I’ve ever seen him.
“You look so beautiful,” Adrian whispers, staring into my eyes.
“You’re not bad yourself,” I tease.
When we kiss, it is the most electrifying kiss we’ve ever had. All the tension leading up to this, all the love we have for each other, and the forever we will share all crash into us from this kiss. The small crowd claps and whistles while I cry tears of joy. Adrian is much better at holding his tears in, but I can see the spring of emotions welling in him.
I pack my beautiful summer wedding down into the pink box. I will have it preserved the same way my mother did, and if I have a girl, maybe she’ll wear it as well.
“Dad, where is Grandma’s wedding dress?” A young woman asks, looking at a photo of a gorgeous bride wearing a beautiful dress accented with lace.