Post # 1
I’ve posted here in the past that I’d really like to wear my grandmother’s 1953 tea length wedding dress.
My cousin wore it 8 years ago for her wedding, which I was a bridesmaid in. We were close growing up as we were the only grandkids for a long time before the slew of them came along. Unfortunatley, in the last 8 years there has been a lot of family upheval (grandfather dies, farm inheritance, etc.) and that cousin, and her parents, are now estranged from my grandmother (dad’s mom).
Cousin and I keep up a chatty email conversation through the year. We email about every two months or so. I emailed her on Saturday asking if I could have grandma’s dress. In my email I acknowledged that it is her wedding dress too, and outlined the alterations I’d have to make for the dress to fit me. The dress is a size 8-10 and I’m a (street size) 12. I mentioned taking the buttons up the back off and making it a corset back, or adding lace panels (if we could find lace that matched) up the side to make the buttons work. I also mentioned removing the lace sleeves (something about getting married in the Catholic Churhc in the 1950’s meant your shoulders had to be covered) and keeping the sweetheart neckline.
She emailed me back Monday afternoon (odd, 48 hours later when she usually does in 8) saying that she is not comfortable with me making alterations to her dress. She is saving it for her four year old daughter or granddaughters. And that I’m welcome to come by her mom’s house where the dress is and try it on (awesome, nothing like trying on a dress you know won’t fit in a hostile situation), but the dress would have to be returned to her after I wore it.
I’m so mad. I haven’t emailed back (obviously a cool down period is in order), but I want to say something about a bird in the hand versus two in the bush. Her daughter or **granddaughter** might not like the dress in 20 years. I love it now!
I also find it funny that she has such a strong emotional attachement to a dress from a woman that she’s refrained from interacting with for the last 3 years.
I’m at a loss as to what to do. Looks like that wedding dream is out. And I’ve only been engaged 72 hours…
Post # 3
dont they say possesion is 9/10th… get the dress first 😉
i do appreciate her taking 48hrs to answer you – obviously she wanted to take her time in replying and you seem to want to be just as cool headed, which is good
maybe you should suggest the solomon thing – how many daughters/granddaugthers are there? cut the dress up for everyone to have a piece as their “something old”
Post # 4
I know. I felt like I was doing the right thing by telling her how I’d need to alter the dress. Now I’m kicking myself for being so forthwright before being in posession of the dress.
Another thought I’d had was displaying my grandmother’s and mother’s dresses at the reception, with wedding photos from their weddings. I might not even be able to do that now…
I’m bummed. And upset that a 32 year old woman would be so petty.
Post # 5
That does suck that she’s acting like that when it wasn’t her dress to begin with, but I could see her side of the story. It is an important dress to her now, she did wear it on her special day and in turn wants to keep it special and in tact. That said, it’s still not fair to keep your grandma’s wedding dress all to herself. I like your idea of displaying the dresses with the pictures, it’s better than nothing!
Post # 6
Hmm, I am sorry you are disappointed about not being able to wear the dress. It is always hard to let go of, or alter, wedding dreams. However, I really do see her point. This dress is a family heirloom. It is one thing to want to wear it, or have it let out in a way that doesn’t harm the integrity of the dress. It is something else to alter it to be more “modern.” While it seems unfair that she has claimed the dress for herself, your grandmother gave it to her. As with any other inheritance, it belongs to her and her children. It seems reasonable to ask that the dress be displayed, however. Maybe you could wear it unaltered for just the ceremony, then have a more comfortable/modern dress for the reception.
I hope this doesn’t put too much of a damper of your brand new engagment. Congratulations!
Post # 7
Eeekkk – I have no idea what I would do. Chances are her daughter or granddaughter may not even LIKE the dress. Try to talk to her more and explain your reasons and why this dress is so important to you. GL!
Post # 8
It kind of stinks that she wants to hold onto it for her daughters. What are the chances they’ll want to wear it? Or that the dress will be in good shape by then? (Although, at this point, it’s on a fast track to antiquedom.)
If only Grandma asked for it back, after she wore it. Maybe grandma thought that no one else would really care for it. Also, making necessary alterations are one thing. But it sounds like you want to make other alterations to modernize it. I could see why she wouldn’t like that. (At that point you’d be changing the dress she wore on her wedding day too.)
If it’s the style you like, can you have one made to look like it, with the changes you want? If it’s the sentimental value, can you ask grandma for something special, of hers, to carry down the aisle? Maybe she has something else from her wedding (like a piece of jewelry or hanky or something.)
Post # 9
I have to agree with sjbee. The alterations that you have suggested sound like they would really change the look of the dress. From what I understand, the dress wasn’t given to your cousin as a loaner dress until you wanted it. It was given to her, end of story. Whether she wants to share it with you at all, is unfortunately, entirely up to her. I sympathize with you because I understand that you wanted to wear a dress that was sentimental to you and your grandmother. However, I think this may be a battle that you might not win. It is her dress, she wore it on her wedding day, and now you’d like to wear it and make dramatic alterations to it. I can understnad why she isn’t comfortable with that. I think I would talk to her about wearing the dress with the panels let out (no corset back added) to fit you, but I think you should keep the sleeves if that is what she wants. If you want to wear her dress, you’re going to have to wear it on her terms, which may mean keeping the sleeves and not adding a corset.
Post # 10
I should add that I really don’t want to “modernize it”, just alter it to fit me. My arms won’t fit into the sleeves and it won’t button around me in its current size.
If you were her, would you rather I have the seamstress (carefully) remove the sleeves so they could be reattached later with minimal damage, or alter them to be bigger?
Edited to add: When I spoke to my grandmother about making changes to her dress on Saturday Grandma was all for it. The way she phrased it indicated that she’d loaned the dress 8 years ago…
Realistically, making a fuss over it is more drama than I want to cause. I’m just incredibly dissapointed…
Post # 11
- Wedding: March 2010 - Calamigos Ranch
Oh, man I feel for you… but this is probably a battle you are not going to win. 🙁 If it were the dress I’d worn for my wedding, I would probably see it as mine, not a “communal” family dress, and I wouldn’t let someone take it who had to make drastic alterations. I might not let anyone take it even without alterations. It sounds like it’s her dress now, and she doesn’t have to lend it to you if she’s trying to save it. You may just have to find a new dream dress.
In response to your edit: that changes things, but not a whole lot. If your cousin and grandmother were still on good terms, maybe. But if she feels cut off, then she’s probably not going to let go of that dress at all.
Post # 12
so Grandma is still alive…… well get that woman on the phone to her other granddaughter asking for the dress back!
Post # 13
@ eloping. Dude, I know! Ha, I just had to get it out how dissapointed I am; asking Gram to make that call would totally stir up the family pot, and I’m not sure its worth going that far. Weddingbee is a good resource for letting out emotions that other people might not want to hear
Post # 14
ugghhh – family dramas!
what about getting a replica dress made but custom to fit you?? i think that would still be very cool and you can have pics of grandma on her wedding day at the reception
Post # 15
Awww it’s too bad your grandma can’t just call up and get her dress back for you! Your cousin is being selfish, I think. It doesn’t sound like it was ever meant to just be her heirloom.
I would probably try and call my cousin and see if we can find a way for both of us to work together on the dress issue – an email probably isn’t the best way for either of you to convey your thoughts. It might be helpful for her to really hear how important this is to you!
Otherwise, if there’s no other option, talk to your grandma about borrowing something else from her – maybe she has something WAY better than her dress 🙂
Post # 16
Hmm… if the dress is a size 10 and you are a size 12 and you are only just engaged, could you fit into the dress early enough to use it for your wedding? I know that a lot of brides end up going down a size or two during their engagement… just a thought 🙂 It might be worth trying on the dress and seeing how much either you or the dress would have to change to make it work. Good luck!