A woman I know loosely through another web site — one Diana Heideman — recently contributed a poem to that web site, and I was so enamored with it that I asked her if I could post it here in its entirety. She said yes, and I thought that the day before Thanksgiving would be the perfect time to take a break from all the wedding invitations and ceremony accessories and bridal bouquets.
Here is her poem, entitled “14 Sentences On Goodwill Wedding Dresses”:
Strapless, vanity size 0, from David’s Bridal, never worn with original tags.
She never lost the 50 pounds she swore she would, and bought the proper size the week before the wedding, and looked beautiful.
Eggshell sheath with sash, tags removed, altered, never worn.
Two months before the wedding, after the final fitting, her pregnancy test came back positive, and while she still fit in the dress, he did not want to be a father, and one morning he was gone.
Princess dress, beaded, some beads missing, carefully mended tears, light soiling on the hem.
Years after their mother’s wedding, three sisters each in turn played bride, or princess, dancing around in mama’s dress, but all three girls are grown now.
Vintage dress with intricate beading, carefully hand sewn from a pattern, worn once, musty but clean.
Her children and their children were too busy fighting over jewelry and furniture to notice her real treasures, and got rid of anything they couldn’t put a price on.
Tasteful silk tea-length dress, clearly worn, some wrinkles and snags in the fabric.
The dress was stuffed in the back of her closet after six years, two children, and one misplaced phone call that revealed his cheating, since she couldn’t bear the reminder of better times.
White satin dress with train, worn once, pristine condition.
The wedding and the marriage have been perfect, but she feels it criminal to put the dress away where it will never be worn again, so she offers someone else a sliver of the joy she has.
Traditional off-the-shelf classic gown, worn once, cared for well.
Always pragmatic and less than sentimental, after her only child–a son–was in college and she hit menopause, she saw no reason to keep a dress her family would never use again.
It’s rather bittersweet, no? But the overwhelming theme that runs throughout — that memories can and should be passed on, for better or for worse — is fascinating. Not many brides opt for second hand wedding dresses, but those who do are inadvertently sharing a rich history with someone they will likely never meet.
I gave my wedding gown to my paternal grandmother’s church so she or someone else from that institution could make sure it was passed on to a bride-to-be who both needed it and would enjoy it. I’ll probably never find out what happened to my dress, but I hope it went to someone whose marriage has been as happy as my own.