Like Mother, Like Daughter
I don’t know about you, but as it is for many first time brides, the moment my dress hunt began was at the doorstep of my mother. I had only vague recollections of what her cream-coloured prairie dress looked like in 1984, but if it was sitting under a bed in a storage box somewhere, I wanted to know about it. In an effort to make everything as meaningful as possible, I knew that if it was a possibility to pay homage to my mom by wearing her wedding dress, I was going to do it - ugly or otherwise.
Turns out it was not even a wedding dress, per se, but a borrowed formal gown that had been worn by multiple brides before her and was worn multiple times after that. The bed it was being stored under was that of a stranger somewhere in West Texas. I looked again at the two photos we have from their $400 wedding and counted my lucky stars. It’s not my style, anyway, I thought.
My own torrential dress hunt lead me down a path that ultimately found me designing the gown I had swirling around in my head. It was my goal to be utterly original, completely ‘Andi’, and traditionally bridal with a modern edge. I thought there was absolutely no way I’d be the girl wearing my moms dated gown from 1984; I was going to be decidedly 2017.
And the gown that I ended up wearing was decidedly me and wasn't my mother's frock... technically. But it wasn’t until all was said and done and I looked at the images from both our weddings side-by-side that I realised the accidental influence I’d taken on from her dress design.
The 'utterly original' gown I'd designed in my head was an empire waisted, a-line, and ankle length gown with strong statement sleeves. My mom's borrowed prairie dress was an empire waisted, a-line, and ankle length gown with strong statement sleeves. Both were made of soft cotton and accented with little eyelet detailing on their edges.
I thought then of my mom's engagement ring: a humble marquis cut diamond, sitting on a thin gold band, suited to the budget of the impoverished and in love 22-year-old college kids that they were, nestled cosily with another small gold band to match. I looked down at my own hand to see the solitaire cut Tiffany ring from the 1950's, placed on it's original knife-edge, gold band. I didn't even have a part in selecting the ring (much to my delight), so the fact that my fiancé chose this ring based on it looking like me and it's design so closely mimicked the design of my mother's was no coincidence.
Similarly, Amy's fashion forward mother handmade her own dress based on a Christian Dior pattern she fancied. The clean and minimal fabric created beautiful sleeves and direct lines from top to bottom. She wore white platform shoes and a modern statement veil & headpiece to accent. Her getaway outfit was one we'd all envy as a burgundy suit with flare legs, platform leather shoes, and a camel leather handbag. For 1973, Rose's style was definitely ahead of it's time, modern, chic, and forward thinking. These are all words I'd use to describe Amy on a daily basis today. Amy's chosen gown was similarly modern in cut and minimal fabric, with bold design accents and chic detailing.
Today, Amy wears her mother's wedding ring and band that are decidedly modern as well, hand-designed by her father Phil and well beyond their years for the 70's with their beautiful arching silver curves and modern design. Little would Phil have known when he was designing it that his daughter would be wearing them years later and that they would be perfectly 'her'.
Amy and I are both fortunate to have had mothers who we are delighted to be like. But like many of us with our parents, I find my go-to reaction for many things is still to first try to break free and create original thinking and establish my own path. When I realised the direct correlation between my gown, her gown, my ring, her ring, I had to just sit back and chuckle at myself. How clever I thought I was being in my original thought, that I didn't even realise the subliminal influence that ran throughout my bones.
And how true that story is for so many of us, isn't it? We can fight hard against the current again and again before we realise we're inadvertently walking alongside it. When it comes to things like eyelet lace and delicate gold bands, I'd say there are probably worse things one could inherit in their life. So, ladies, if you're teetering on the edge of conforming to (or nodding at) the style of your mother's former wedding wisdom and needing a gentle shove, consider this Mrs Fray's condoning of 'the nod'.
You know what they say, mother always knows best.