When I got the invitation to write THE SUBSTITUTE BRIDE, one of the “Big Wedding Giveaway” bride novellas for Tule Publishing, I jumped at the chance. I’m a sucker for weddings, and most of all wedding dresses.

Probably that’s because…well, okay, there doesn’t have to be a “because” for this, does there? Millions of people are in suckers for wedding dresses–which can be more like works of art than mere garments. More like magical sugar-spun dreams than clothes.

For me, the most gorgeous wedding dresses in the past century belong to Kate Middleton, Princess Diana, and Grace Kelly. And my mother. :)

My mother’s dress was a WWII-time piece of simplicity, compared to the other three.

Lucy wedding dress

All cotton-lace, a softly tailored shirtwaist that fit her looks, and her personality, perfectly. She was a liberated, working journalist who made her own decisions and didn’t put on frou-frou to suit anyone else’s definition of “female.” She was way ahead of her time, really.

Still…it was understood that, when I married, I’d wear the same gown….even though it didn’t really fit my figure, or my girly personality, as well. I was curvier, shorter…with far less WWII-time dignity. But I wore it, rather than risk hurting my mom’s feelings.

k wedding day with daddy

My sister wore it with great joy, too, when she married. She never considered anything else, and she looked beautiful. The trio-tradition feels nice, and if I could turn back time, I wouldn’t change a thing.

But when it came time for my daughter to marry, I made certain she understood she was not tied to that dress, which suited her even less than it had suited me.

It was a tough decision for her. She deeply honors family, loves rituals and traditions and keepsakes passed down through the generations. But she’s also a free spirit, a creative soul. She has an independent turn of mind I’m quite sure she inherited straight from my mother. She knew it was her wedding, and it should reflect who she was. In the end, she chose a dress that made her shine.

irene wedding dress for blog

And though my mother had been gone for ten years at that point, when my daughter walked down the aisle in that lovely gown, I knew that, somewhere, she was smiling.

Look at my daughter here, dancing with some of the wedding guests. Who wouldn’t smile, to see a bride that happy and free? :)

Irene's wedding from shannon's flash 140

What about you? Are you enchanted by wedding gowns, or bored by all the fuss and frill? Was your own wedding dress the dress of your dreams? And do you love reading about brides–even one who hocks her wedding dress, like mine? ;-)

I’ll be giving away free ebooks of THE SUBSTITUTE BRIDE today to two posters chosen at random.

And Kate, the last giveaway winner, please email me at KOBrien@aol.com today! I had a problem with mailing your book and have been trying to reach you!

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38 thoughts on “Here Comes The…Dress!

  1. KateS says:

    Love to see wedding dresses… I have my mom’s from the 1942′s, she and her brother’s bride wore it… satin…None of us 3 daughters would have fit in it unless we were 12 years old.. Taller & stubbier!

    1. LOL, Kate! I hear you! :) How sweet of her to let her brother’s bride share it, though! I hope you have great family pictures of that.

  2. Kristin says:

    I would wear my mother’s dress to save my life, she got married in the 80s and egads its a horrid dress.

    I’ve never even seen wedding pictures of either of my grandmother’s weddings.

    I love traditions and family keepsakes, probably because we don’t have any.

    I love your mother’s wedding dress, it’s beautiful. I don’t think I’d want anything frou frou and over the top, simplicity and a quite elegance would be nice and that’s what I see in your mom’s dress.

    1. Laughing, Kristin, because I bet your mother was the epitome of stylish at the time! :) Funny, isn’t it, how things change? Yes, my mother’s dress was gorgeous, wasn’t it? It was so perfect for her.

  3. Kristin says:

    *headdesk* I wouldn’t wear my mother’s dress. Yeesh.

    1. Ha! I provided the extra letters in my head, I guess, because I didn’t see it, either! :)

  4. Kathleen O says:

    I am addicted to the shows, Say Yes To the Dress and any shows that are to do with weddings and bridal gowns. Not for myself, but I have a few nieces who will be looking for wedding dresses in future. I and I am hoping that when the time comes they invite me along to help choose their gowns. I keep a pinterest board with dresses I think will look good on them. Maybe I am living vicariously through them, as I never got married…

    1. Kathleen, I love Say Yes, too! I discovered it by accident one night when I was stuck in a hotel room on business, all alone…and I have to admit I did a little binge watching. :) I love being able to see all the intense emotion about that one outfit, and being able to eavesdrop on the relationships that influence the choice. You learn a lot about mothers and daughters, don’t you? ;-)

      How absolutely lovely for you to keep that Pinterest board! They are lucky nieces, to have such an affectionate, involved aunt! I’ll have to head over and take a look. I bet you have some beauties up there!

  5. Connie Saunders says:

    I had a very simple wedding and my dress was a white, street length dress. I don’t regret not wearing a traditional wedding gown and I don’t regret the money that was saved! LOL

    1. Oh, Connie, the money! Yes, yes. It really can be madness, can’t it? Some of the most beautiful gowns are the simplest, anyhow….though of course that doesn’t mean they’re affordable. Kudos to you for being sensible right from the start!

  6. Katie McGinley says:

    My mom bought a dress of the rack for $50 bucks :) She looked like a little doll, but the dress didn’t mean that much to her, so she didn’t keep it. Looking at the pictures, I wouldn’t have worn it anyway ;-) High neck, long sleeves, not me.

    Because my husband’s in the service, I only had two months to plan our wedding, so I picked a dress in one day. My awesome mom wanted to pay for it, and she’s a teacher, so I didn’t want to stretch her budget. My wedding was in September, so I knew I wanted a short dress. I found one on clearance for just over a hundred that was originally ankle-length but could be hemmed. Here’s what I didn’t know about alterations:When you bring an ankle-length gown up to knee-length, it poofs out. A lot. And if you’re a busty bride and the dress is strapless, the seamstress will take in the sides extra to “keep you in place” a.k.a. make sure you can’t breathe.

    To aid this a little, my mom took the wrap that came with the dress, cut it in two, and sewed them on as straps that criss-crossed in the back, which looked very pretty, but nothing could fix my poofy hips. If I had it to do again, I would choose a different dress, try on more than one, but I’ll never forget how happy it made my mom to do that for me. I will say that with the shorter dress, people got to see my truly awesome purple heels!

    1. Katie, what a wonderful story! I got a happy warmth from reading all the love there, on all sides. What a thoughtful daughter you were, and how your mother must have wanted you to look beautiful and be happy! And purple shoes…fabulous!

  7. Shana Galen Shana Galen says:

    Love looking at wedding dresses. I agree with all of your choices. Your mother’s dress was gorgeous, and I think you looked good in it too.

    1. Shana, <3! I almost didn’t use the photo of me in the dress, for fear it would look as if I were hoping someone would contradict me. :) It is hard for anyone to look downright terrible in a dress that pretty, but it’s also hard for anyone to wear it with the easy panache my mom brought to it. And I had a feeling you might like some of those other dresses! I’m loathe to abandon my earlier #1, but I am tempted to say KM takes first place of all.

  8. I love both your mom’s and your daughter’s dresses! A shirtwaist wedding dress is some cool. I wore a variation of my mother’s dress when I got married – it was made of the most gorgeous slipper satin, but she was quite a bit shorter and way chestier than me. No way was it going to fit. So, I had the dress redesigned by a wonderful local designer who carefully pulled the original apart and remade it for me. He was so good he even sewed the original labels back in the gown. It was awesome.

    1. You were so lucky to have such a great designer, Vanessa! And your mother was so generous to let you re-tool her dress to suit you. It sounds heavenly! All these great stories are making me want to see everyone’s photos. I bet you looked stunning…when you described it, I instinctively pictured Carolyn Bessette’s gown (JFK Jr’s bride). Was it anything like that?

  9. Quilt Lady says:

    I love wedding dresses. I can’t say I had a real wedding dress because I had a very simple wedding in a small country church and my dress was just a plain little white dress. It was still a nice wedding though.

    1. Quilt Lady, of course it was a “real” wedding dress! The ceremony sounds charming…there’s something profoundly moving about simplicity when it comes to momentous occasions, I’ve always thought. It’s the moment, not the yardage, that makes a gown a wedding dress!

  10. Deb Salonen says:

    Beautiful brides all! Can’t wait to read the book, too.

    So happy to see your name in the Tule line-up, Kathleen. I’m happy to be here, too. :-)

    Deb

    1. Thanks, Deb! I’m honored to be in such great company…and I can’t wait to read all the Montana Born books to come!

  11. bn100 says:

    Lovely post and pics

    1. Thanks, BN100! It’s fun to look back and remember such happy times….even if my daughter’s wedding was only five years ago!

  12. You look gorgeous in that dress, Kathleen. I love wedding dresses and weddings in general. I still remember how much fun I had when I picked out mine. That old saying that you’ll know the right dress when you see it is so true. I tried on dozens that were beautiful on the hanger, but when I finally found mine I knew it right away. I can’t wait to read your book!

    1. Nancy, you’re such a sweetheart! Must be the happiness that makes brides look good, no matter what! :) How wonderful it must have felt when you looked in the mirror and saw “the” dress! I’ve seen those pictures, and I can certainly see why. What a magical princess you were that day!

  13. Jean says:

    My grandmother never had a wedding dress and my mom eloped. My older sister was married 10 days after we received our wedding invitation. We had no idea that she had been planning a wedding so when I started to plan my wedding both of my parents were very involved. My dad picked out my wedding dress at the one bridal show we went to. It wasn’t my dream dress, but he was paying and he loved the $99.00 price. I made the mistake of going to a bridal store with my friends after the dress had been ordered. I found my dream dress, but no one had 2 dresses back in the 70′s.

    1. Oh, Jean, that must have been so tough! Your dad probably will never know what a gift you gave him, forgoing the dress your heart wanted in order to spare his feelings and his wallet! And about the extra dresses brides buy today, I’m always a little shocked. It seems very strange to me, but that probably just says I’m old-fashioned. I once saw an episode of Say Yes to the Dress in which the bride bought full-fledged wedding gowns for both her daughters, in addition to her own, because they would be in the wedding party. Huh? Apparently I’m *way* out of it.

  14. Ah, wedding dresses. I got mine on sale at Gibbs-Louis in Orlando. Remember that store? It was pale aqua, and I wore it a second time to a formal function (the Cattle Barons Ball, I think). Must say I LOVE your mom’s gown, Kathleen. A shirtwaist wedding dress is just too cool.

    1. Susan, I don’t actually remember that store, but I’m not an Orlando native, remember. Perhaps it was before we moved here? His Highness might… oh, wait. No, he wouldn’t. ;-) Pale aqua sounds heavenly! Someday show me pictures!!

  15. Marcy Shuler says:

    I loved the pictures of the dresses, Kathleen…and you look a lot like your mother. It’s fun to read about brides and I watch all the wedding TV show, too.

    In my family the tradition seems to be to make our own dresses. My mom made hers as did my older sister. The three of us all worked on my younger sister’s dress since she didn’t sew. My parents had both passed away before I got married so my older sister, her MIL and I got together one weekend and put most of my dress together. I just had to do the finishing details on my own. I have and was able to wear my mother’s veil and I also used the flower girl’s basket from her wedding.

  16. Rochelle says:

    I love the beauty and artistry of wedding gowns. Thanks for sharing all those lovely pictures. I think it was such a nice tradition that you and your sis wore your mom’s beautiful gown. Loved your daughter’s gown too.

    When I got married, I couldn’t decide between 2 dresses that I loved and so I had it made and it combined elements of both.

  17. Alyn says:

    When I was in high school, I used to flip through bridal magazines and cut out everything that I liked from dresses, shoes, to hairstyles. Weird thing is, I don’t like to wear dresses or high heels! I never did as a child. I love pretty dresses. My own wedding had no white dress. I wore the traditional outfit that my people wear for their weddings. I didn’t want to wear it at all but my mom had prepared one for me since I was a little girl. My MIL also bought me one too so I ended up wearing both outfits.

  18. Laurie G says:

    I’m practical and go for simplicity in wedding dresses. I can’t see spending a fortune on a dress you will wear for only one day.

    I paid for my wedding dress. I had been working for a year but only made $4.75 an hour as an RN with a 4 year degree. It cost $120 but it was perfect for me.

  19. Susan Gorman says:

    Thank you for sharing the photos of your Mom’s wedding dress. Both of you looked gorgeous!
    I love weddings, the dresses, the ceremony , the flowers and of course the cake!
    I loved my Mom’s dress-very 1950′s style. She lent it to a friend and there was a stain on it that we could not remove.
    I bought a beautiful gown which I have saved for my daughter. Am sure she will buy her own but it’s there waiting!

  20. Callie Cuddy says:

    I love wedding dresses, but, never got to wear one. My husband and I got married a month before he was sent to Germany. I didn’t get to go with him for several months. We had been dating for 4 months before we decided we wanted to get married prior to his transfer to Germany. So we got married at the justice of the peace 5 days after the new year 14 years ago. I am thankful for him, and wouldn’t trade our life together, but I would love to have a wedding still, but not sure that my husband would see it as anything that is necessary. In my opinion, I love weddings, long as they aren’t excessively long, lol. I love receptions, the dancing, food and cake, so much fun!

  21. Lisa Hutson says:

    My wedding was simple small and perfect. I would not have changed one thing.
    I am not enthralled with weddings or dresses. But I do enjoy going to them. And they always make me cry. Even if I barely know the bride and groom. haha

  22. Ada says:

    I haven’t been to find my perfect dress yet but I love looking through bridal magazines and picking out which stuff I would like with my dress. I don’t have one in mind but I have a general idea of what I like and hope to find something with at least some semblance to it!

  23. Donna EHD says:

    I wore a simple 2 piece street length white skirt and top. I thought it was lovely, and still do to this day, 47 years later. Don’t think I’ve ever been the fro-fro type person. Hubby wore his US Air Force Uniform.
    Daughter had her wedding dress made for her; she & her dressmaker designed it, and she looked beautiful. Marriage didn’t last. She was going to be married the 2nd time in jeans, but just before the wedding, her sister-in-law to be said ‘why don’t you wear my wedding dress’ so she did. It was way too big so we just gathered it in back and pinned it — it wasn’t about the dress anyway. She and her hubby (now 10 years) were barefoot and married under the arch between the living room and dining room in our house.
    I’ve been to many weddings (hubby is a pastor), and I’ve seen some beautiful dresses. There have been only 3 or 4 who have stood out as being such beautiful, beautiful brides.

  24. Glenda says:

    Wearing my mother’s dress wasn’t an option, she had borrowed it from a friend. My mother in law offered to let me wear her dress, but since she was a size Zero when she got married it was so not going to happen. :-) it might be nice for my daughter to wear me dress, but she is 6 inches taller than me so modification would be very necessary. :-D

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