Thoughts About Wedding Dresses

From talking to the Curator of Costume at The Victoria and Albert Museum I know that shortly they will be having an exhibition on wedding dresses. My understanding is that
there will be a real range of dresses from the old to the modern, from traditional to cutting edge design. I cant wait, it should be fabulous.

I have made the decision to keep my wedding dress for Fifi, I had it cleaned and it is packed away to museum standards waiting for the day when she shows an interest. Occasionally I get it out and look at it. It wasn’t an expensive dress, it was a fairly simple style. I didn’t want anything too frou-
frou or toilet-roll holder. When we were looking we went to Dickens and Jones in Regent Street and tried on a selection of dresses. The one I fell in love with cost over £3000, that was
never going to happen. I went to Liberty and wept over the beauty of the Vera Wang dresses.

Of course, these dresses are an investment, if you can look after them properly they will keep a large part of their value and that will only increase in time. However, I suspect that most people don’t really know how to properly look after textiles to minimise long term damage. Those dresses are not for ordinary girls like me from ordinary back-grounds. I often think that most of these dresses and weddings are not for ordinary people, why do people saddle themselves with so much debt before they have even begun married life?

I contemplated something designer but dressy and not all that ‘wedding’. In the end I wanted to look the part, I wanted to look like a classic bride. Ideally, I wanted something 1950’s in style, however that was impossible at the time as it wasn’t fashionable enough and I wasn’t brave enough to employ someone to make something for me in case it didn’t suit me. I looked at hundreds of dresses and must have tried on nearly a hundred before I found something within my budget (the price still shocks me to the core as I am quite frugal and it was only worn for a day) and which suited me. I love the dress I got, it was perfect. I’m very grateful to my patient mother who must have been driven totally mad!

Since the Victorian/ Edwardian period wedding dresses seem to have either been handed
down and worn by generations of women. We have a dress in our museum collection that was worn by three generations of women from the same family. Of course, there were often reasons other than sentimentality for this, one being the Second World War- time restrictions on fabric and buttons, meaning that mothers vintage dress would have been by far the best option. However, this is proof that wedding dress can defy fashion and trends. It’s a day for you to indulge in your taste or ideals.

I didn’t wear my mums dress, she wasn’t too keen on me wearing an old thing, but also I don’t think there would have been any chance of it fitting me. She still has it though carefully packaged up. On reflection this is a bit of a shame, particularly as we were actually married on my parents thirtieth wedding anniversary.

A friend of mine has converted her dress into a robe for her children’s christening, I know of others who have had cushions made, framed panels. I simply couldn’t do this to my dress, I cant bring myself to damage it. Within its fabric is the very structure of our marriage somehow. The perfection of the day, is intimately linked with my dress. It must be there for me to look at and for Fifi to see. I would be very upset if anything happened to it. This is quite odd for me as I am not the least bit sentimental about my kids first baby clothes.

I don’t think my dress will become a valuable heirloom, however entwined within its fabric is our hopes, our aspirations and a tangible memory of the day. It’s one you can feel and remember. There are not many objects like this which can take you directly back to a moment. Costume is one of these things, its a direct link, it can tell you about body shape, taste, give you a direct feeling of the moment, even the noise of the fabric evokes (and creates) strong memories. This is why I love curating costume and one of the reasons why I find it hard to part with clothes.

How do you feel about your wedding dress; are you keeping it for your children and their children? Is it a modern heirloom? Was your dress a family heirloom? Would you consider donating it to a museum?


10 Responses

  1. thebabybubble 7th December 2010 / 9:53 am

    I couldn't bare to part with my wedding dress, it has so much sentimental value and I hope that if we have a daughter I can pass it to her to keep even if she chooses not to wear it! My husband thinks I'm mad to have paid such a huge sum of money for a dress to wear once and then refuse to part with it. He thinks I should sell it on. No chance.

  2. Alex 7th December 2010 / 10:24 am

    I think you looked absolutely lovely that day. And of course every day since 🙂

  3. Muddling Along Mummy 7th December 2010 / 11:53 am

    I have to admit to having not cleaned my dress – I probably should, it was lovely and I would at least like my girls to look at it and admire it!<br /><br />Interestingly it was my hair pins that came in useful and have been reused – my sister used them to pin in her hair decoration at her wedding

  4. Tasha Goddard 7th December 2010 / 2:43 pm

    I still have my wedding dress, though it&#39;s probably full of mothballs, as it&#39;s just sat in the wardrobe in the fairly basic zip-up hanging lining, rather than properly packed away. <br /><br />I don&#39;t know why I&#39;m keeping it. I&#39;d be happy if my sister or daughters wanted to wear it, but am not specifically keeping it with that in mind. Perhaps it&#39;s because it is the most

  5. tistylee 7th December 2010 / 7:05 pm

    my dress was not an heirloom, just one off the rack, fitted for me. and it didn&#39;t cost much (for a bridal gown) but i felt beautiful in it. :)<br /><br />i did keep it afterwards. it is packed away at my grandmothers, awaiting the day i have enough space in my own home to store it! haha.<br /><br />in theory it would be cool if my daughter wore it for her wedding… but i have wondered

  6. Manic Mummy 7th December 2010 / 8:16 pm

    i never got the wedding dress (or the wedding for that matter) that i wanted. My dress is just hanging in the wardrobe if either of my girls wanted to wear it on their big day i would be happy for them to. I really wanted to wear my mums but she wouldn&#39;t let me, doubt it would have fitted me anyway as she is 4&quot; shorter and at the time about 10&quot; smaller round the waist.

  7. Cosmic 8th December 2010 / 12:10 am

    Beautiful Bride indeed!<br /><br />xoxox

  8. ANB 8th December 2010 / 10:02 am

    I love my dress and would love for my baby to wear it one day when she is grown up! It&#39;s been sitting in its plastic zip-up thingy since April 2009 and reading this has made me really think I should finally get it dry cleaned and properly stored!

  9. tina 8th December 2010 / 12:51 pm

    When i got married i decided that i just wanted something simple, so i bought a plain, but pretty white dress. Even though it is not traditional, i still love it, and will definitely pass it on to my daughter.

  10. Kelly 9th December 2010 / 10:20 pm

    My dress was made by a friend and got very dirty on the day of my wedding. Because it was made for me I couldn&#39;t really sell it and getting it cleaned was too expensive so I held onto it until I heard of Bubs Bears and had it made into two teddy bears, one I kept and one for my friend. I also kept all the hand made flowers for use on my daughters dress (if I have one).<br /><br />I wrote all

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