The zip was stiff, but as my Mum slowly fastened her old wedding dress, it was obvious it fit me perfectly. I ran my hands over the crisp white cotton and felt a chill run down my spine. It was strange to think we were exactly the same size, my 23 year old mother and I. I could almost feel the history in the fabric, the memories contained in every crease.
My mother's wedding dress was always there growing up, encased in a flimsy garment bag at the back of her wardrobe. Her floral circlet and veil hung jauntily from the crook of the wire coat hanger, the petals' of each bloom dulled by dust and time. It wasn't an expensive dress, not by today's standards. I relished any opportunity to hear the story of its discovery in a shop on London's famous Kings Road in the late 70s. Having obediently browsed countless boutiques, Mum finally went back to the first shop she had visited and paid £80 for her Mexican wedding dress.
Franky's mum in her wedding dress
As I gazed at my reflection in her bedroom mirror that day, we both knew I wouldn't wear the dress for my own nuptials, but it felt like we had completed an important rite of passage together. Padding around her room in my bare feet, pretending to walk down an imaginary aisle, remains one of my fondest memories from the period leading up to our wedding.
Perhaps this explains why selling my own wedding dress never crossed my mind. With a disposition that naturally leans towards sentimentality, I imagined myself, years from now, unpacking the gown to play dress-up with my daughter, before I'd even worn it myself. Two years on from saying 'I do', I can't even bring myself to part with the dirt and debris it acquired on the day. To my mind, its muddy train tells of our first moments as husband and wife, walking among the grounds of Heatherden Hall, full of more joy than I thought possible. See, I told you I was sentimental.
My personal propensity towards extreme nostalgia aside, the reality of planning and paying for a wedding means more and more brides are unable to consider keeping the dress beyond their wedding day. Expensive purchases are budgeted for on the basis of their re-sale value and the decision to sell post-wedding is often made before a bride's first fitting.
While I acknowledge the escalating costs involved, I can't help but feel a little saddened by the movement towards shedding the sartorial trappings of a wedding at the first available opportunity. I suppose I see them as an important part of history, something tangible to keep hold of in a world increasingly defined by the transient and disposable.
Perhaps I'm being silly though. What's the point of a fabulous frock, holed up in the attic gathering dust? Maybe it should live on to shine another day?
Do you plan to sell or pass on your wedding dress after it's had its day in the limelight? Or are you a sentimental old fool like me who intends to treasure it forever, till death do us part?
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