Say YES to the Dress

Our wedding day June 7, 1969

Our wedding day June 7, 1969. Still LOVE my flowers especially the beautiful ribbon streams knotted with tiny rose buds that Bucky designed Jane. Perfection!

On June 7, 1969 Donny & I join our lives together to begin what is still the best adventure I have ever been on. It has an abundance of love, twists, turns, surprises, hilarity and, to use my much over used but appropriate on so many occasions word, fun. We have fun!

Before that day I am a working girl in Richmond living alone, dating some nice guys. Nothing significant on my radar. My job as an Advertising layout designer at landmark Miller & Rhoads downtown is a quick walk or bicycle ride from my huge Franklin Street apartment situated across from the exclusive prestigious mens’ only Commonwealth Club. The doorman and I wave to each other as I dash off, always late for work.

It’s June 1968, the store windows are decorated with traditional wedding gowns. Never much for wedding gowns, or diamonds either, I am drawn to a gown in the window by the main doors I access to then scurry up back stairs and hurried slip unnoticed, I hope, into my work cubicle where I pretend I’ve been there all along, only have stepped out for coffee.

But back to the dress. It mesmerizes me. I am in love with a wedding dress. I have no current boyfriend much less wedding plans. I have not even met Donny yet. But I want that dress. The months move on. The window displays change. My dress is forgotten.

Later in the summer my friend, Sherrie Edwards (Oliva), who is getting married in October and also worked in Advertising as a proof runner for a while, comes to town. She is wedding dress hunting. We have become good friends when I get her the job because she wants to live in Richmond but has no means of support. She moves in with me at my turn of the century apartment building on West Franklin Street across from my old dorm 909 West Franklin Street, but she heads home after she gets engaged to plan her wedding.

We start her hunt at Miller & Rhoads Bridal Department of course. She gets her Embassy Book (such a pretty tradition) and we settle in to view dresses. I swear it was the first one out but maybe not. At any rate, yes she does. The sales lady indeed brings out my dress. “That’s my dress!” I exclaim. Sherrie looks at me puzzled. I explain telling her that she can only have it if she promises to let me borrow it on my wedding day. Sherrie loves the dress too. She tries it on. I’m not sure if she even tried on any others. Most likely. But our dress is the one. She gets it. Later she tells me that our dress was custom designed for daughter of the head of the bridal department and is even featured in a Tea Room fashion show. The story of why it is not used is lost in time. It is left hanging almost forgotten in a back corner of the department. The sales clerk must have figured Sherrie for the right customer to buy it.

Her Williamsburg wedding is beautiful. She has secretly arranged for me to catch the bouquet. I am elated and blushing. I still don’t have a committed boyfriend. Lots of boyfriends. And dates. But no let’s spend our life together relationship.

Of course that changes rapidly in November when I meet Donny. We are a match made to be. We get married six months later.

Sherrie and I keep up pretty well for awhile. She & Joe are in our wedding. Later down the road we arrange long distance play dates for our kids. Then things drift to annual Christmas card exchange. We meet at Mom’s house once. The Christmas cards become random.

Social media reconnects us. We are still Piglet and Jett. Along the reconnection way I ask her what became of the dress. In her downsizing phase she tells me that she donates it to Christ Church School for the drama department realizing that her daughter, Cary, will never use it. No one in my family will use it either but I miss my dress. My nephews go to Christ Church. I ask my sister-in-law to see if they will give me the dress in exchange for a donation to the department.

dress buttonsThe department head gives it to Julie saying they rarely use it anyway. Probably because of the 48 tiny covered buttons that close up the back. No zipper for this dress. My sister Suzanne can assure you that every button is real. She has to button each one on my wedding day. True sister love. Julie gives the dress to Suzanne who is dubious it is the right one. She sends a photo. Oh yes, that is my dress. A little aged but still beautiful as ever. Now it hangs next to my closet in full view because it really is just an ornament, a much loved lovely ornament.

3 Comments

Filed under family, wedding

3 Responses to Say YES to the Dress

  1. sherrie oliva

    SandyBeachGirl/Ja/Jett,

    I loved this posting! I did not have any idea you have THE DRESS!! I love that!
    Although we both wore it (and yes those buttons took forever to button) it looked entirely different on us both. We were able to change the appearance a bit with different head wear choices and floral arrangements. I wore the sleeves up and you took them down.
    Did you know that another friend also wore it in her wedding? My college friend Charlotte couldn’t find a dress either when it came time for her wedding. I was living in Alexandria then and she and I went all over DC looking for a dress. As she had been in Japan right after college and getting back very close to her wedding date there wasn’t a lot of time. Also she was as “small” as we both were back then. THE DRESS was a size 4!! So Charlotte married Lance in the summer of 1970 at Andrews Air Force Base and she wore “our dress”!

    The legacy of THE DRESS goes back even further, as it had been specially made for the future daughter-in-law of Miller & Rhoads Bridal Dept. head. Something happened that prevented that wedding from taking place and THE DRESS had been hanging in the back of the salon after being featured on the runway in a Tea Room fashion show.It wasn’t even out with all the other wedding gowns. It was the first dress I actually tried on although we did look at a number of others. I have always LOVED the fact that the original person for whom the dress was made never wore it, but not 1 but 3 more of us went on to wear it in our weddings!

    Yours and Donny’s was a particularly beautiful wedding as well. I can still visualize it in my mind and the wonderful reception at your grandparents house on Three Chopt Road in Richmond. I am so thrilled you have THE DRESS…..
    a little aged but still beautiful….could be a description of you!

    • sandy jett ball

      What a fun story to complete the history of our dress! It made it’s mark in many places and is still going strong.

  2. Pingback: After A FASHION | SandyBeachGirl

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.