The family wedding dress

In my family, 5 brides have worn my mother’s 61 year old wedding dress since 1959. Just about everyone who could fit into it, wore it to be married. I really wish that I could have, but my swimmer’s (long distance butterfly) shoulders and big boobs meant that it did not fasten all the way up the back.

Apart from me and my Giant Shoulders, this dress is a bit like that movie Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants where everyone involved fit into the same pair of jeans. In my family everyone looks fantastic in this dress.

When my niece got married in April 2018, she made sure to celebrate the dress. I was so touched because my mother (for whom the dress was originally made), died in 1980 and did not live to see most of the brides who wore it. Somehow, to me, she lives on in the lives of those who wear her dress to marry their loved ones. Not one bride who has worn this dress to marry has ever divorced.

Photograph property of Jessica Westraadt
My mother, when she married in the dress in 1959
My mother and father on their wedding day, in 1959. My mother was 5ft 3in and weighed about 110lbs
The second bride to wear the dress, my aunt Molly. She married in 1961. My mother was pregnant with me at the time so I was, in effect, present at the wedding. Photo property of Molly Haefele


The third bride to wear the dress – Molly’s daughter Christine, who married in 1991. Photograph property of Christine Westraadt
And me, trying the dress on in 2000, even though I knew it was too small in the back. I am 5ft 7in and weighed about 124lbs in this photograph. Photograph by Mark Comerford

Bouquet services provided by Murdoch the Cat. Photograph by Mark Comerford

And below, the latest bride to wear the dress – my niece Jessica Dean neé Westraadt, who owns these photographs. Doesn’t she look stunning? She is taller than my mother was so she wore it more waltz length and it suited her perfectly.

It is hard to believe that the dress is 61 years old. And that it looks as classic today as it did six decades ago. My mother was not into fashion but she sure hit it out of the park with her wedding dress! And we have not taken particularly good care of it – it was stored in a box for many years, and then hung behind a bedroom door in a dress bag.

I wonder who the next bride to wear the dress will be? And how long the dress will last?

Author: Janet Carr

Fashion, beauty and animal loving language consultant from South Africa living in Stockholm, Sweden.

7 thoughts

  1. So special. I am a friend of Christine’s and this story really touched me. I hope many more family members make this dress part of their love story.

  2. Oh Janet, what a wonderful dress. I am so glad you have photos of you in it. This is a highpoint of my week.

  3. Hi Janet, Beautiful story and gorgeous photos.. I can see you in both your mom and dad – you have his smile! This post is a good lead up to your special day..July 20th right?

  4. Beautiful dress, beautiful brides, beautiful story. Thank you for sharing! 🙂 Genie

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