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Throughout history many marriages were more of a business arrangement between families than a marriage of love. If the bride came from wealth, her dress reflected her status, otherwise, most brides wore the best dress they owned. It wasn’t until the marriage of England’s Queen Victoria in 1840, that white wedding dresses came into vogue. Since then styles and traditions have changed. First-time brides no longer feel they have to wear white, and choosing a dress for a second wedding—especially if the bride is a certain age—is often more challenging.

Months before I married James, I hadn’t given my dress much thought until… One morning I awoke with what can best be described as a strong message.

As clear as can be, my little voice said, “Your dress is waiting for you. Go find it. Today.”

Instead of going to water aerobics, I dressed and took care with my hair and makeup. I wanted to look befitting of a great dress instead of looking like I was shopping for zucchini.

When I left the house, it was like my car had a mind of its own. Of all the big box stores and boutiques, I drove straight to Saks. I parked my car, went in the store and walked straight to my dress. I’d never seen a photo of it, but instinctually, I knew where it was. Even on the hanger, it took my breath away.

When the saleslady poked her head in the dressing room, her eyes got big and she said, “I’ll be right back.” In minutes, every saleswoman in Saks Fifth Avenue was clustered outside my dressing room. The look on their faces made me feel like it was, indeed, a special dress, and I was beautiful. None of them had seen the dress on because minutes before the store opened that morning, they’d put the dress out on the floor for the first time. It was as though this glorious dress had called to me.

That was 1996, and I’d never seen a silver pleated fabric. Today metallic silver and gold pleated fabrics are all the rage—I wore a pair of gold pleated pants last night—but none of them compare with my wedding dress. BTW, those aren’t seams. It’s one continuous piece of fabric. That in itself is amazing!

While my fabric is a bright silver, it’s not the shiny, chrome metallic of today’s fabrics. It’s classier, like it was designed for royalty. The off the shoulder bodysuit is the same shade of silver but “smocked”—I hesitate to use this word because it conjures up dresses little girls wear at Easter—with a smooth fabric from the waist down.

I was vaguely aware of the designer, Jeanne Marc, and frankly, I didn’t care what it cost which, as it turned out, was a good thing. It was—and still is—the most beautiful dress I’ve ever owned.

James and I were married in a small English garden at Trinity University’s Parker Chapel. I still remember the look on his face when the doors at the end of the garden opened and the sun hit my dress. He mouthed the word, “Wow!” He looked “Wow” as well in his new Armani suit.

From then on, if I was in doubt when shopping for an outfit, I went for the classy “Wow” every time.

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  1. Brenda, what a story and what a fabulous dress, it’s gorgeous! And you definitely looked WOW in it, what a beautiful photograph of you and James. The line, “I wanted to look befitting of a great dress instead of looking like I was shopping for zucchini” made me laugh out loud. Essie xx

    • I’m glad it gave you a giggle, Essie! You know how sometimes you try on clothes and think if you fix your hair and do your makeup, “this” would look better on me? That’s how I felt that morning. I wanted to be ready for “the” dress because I just knew it was out there. xoxox, Brenda

  2. What a gorgeous dress. I love how much you appreciate the craftsmanship. I find that’s something that people don’t think about much these days. I’m forever turning things inside out in fitting rooms and ripping through the seams. What you have is a work of art. I hope you display it somewhere you can enjoy it regularly! xoxo

    • It is a work of art, Jen! You don’t see things made like this anymore unless it’s a couture item from Dior, worn by celebrities on the red carpet. The fact that it’s one piece of material and that the pleats and smocking are so meticulous is so amazing I could look at it all day. It’s one of those things that’s been in storage the last 10 years, so I’m probably lucky the moths or the mice didn’t get to it. xoxox, Brenda

    • I won’t go so far as to say my mother was clairvoyant, but she had more ESP and intuition than anyone I’ve ever known, and I have a great deal of that. You read a lot about being still in the moment and getting in touch with your inner voice. While I know getting still and letting what’s inside bubble up to your consciousness has validity–and I do that–my little voice is brazen and pushy. I don’t have to meditate to let her out. Thanks Leanne.

  3. That dress is incredible! You look stunning and both of you look content and happy. I would imagine the dress is worth a lot of money today, though I know you’ll never let it go.

    • It’s truly a work of art. I’ve worn it once since then… to the Napa Valley Wine Auction’s black tie dinner. I’d seen pictures of attendees, and the women were dressed like movie stars. LOL! Some were movie stars! I worried about whether I’d fit in, but the women in all of their diamonds and black lace dresses came up to me to see MY dress. I wore a pair of earrings, no necklace. Didn’t need to with that dress. xoxox, Brenda

  4. Stunning dress and stunning bride! I’ve never seen anything like it. Your story gave me goosebumps.

  5. Hi Brenda,
    Your dress is beautiful. That’s a nice wedding photo too. My husband asked me to renew our vows on a cruise ship. I’m actually not sure I want to. Shouldn’t our daughters be there? Then, we all have to go on the cruise and buy expensive outfits. The wedding was expensive enough the first time!

    • Hi Janice,
      Don’t think of renewing your vows like you did with your first wedding. First of all, you get to set the rules: who attends; what you and everyone else should wear. Don’t try and recreate your wedding or that special dress. You only have one wedding, and you’ve done that. This is a renewal of your vows. I think it’s sweet your husband asked to renew your vows on a cruise ship. What if you talk with him about what the two of you want as opposed to what you think everyone else would want and stick to your guns? Maybe your daughters don’t come? Maybe you wear a cocktail dress or a pair of silky palazzo pants and a beautiful top? You can still wear something that will dazzle him and that screams romance, if you choose, without it looking like a wedding dress and costing a lot of money. This time around, it’s not about the dress, or a tux, or a reception. It’s about celebrating your love and that you’re still together, warts and all.

      Maybe you go to Macy’s or Chico’s and find a saleswoman–not a Millennial–and ask her to help you look for something. It doesn’t have to be dressy, just something that looks great on you and is a cut above what you normally wear. Apply some makeup and maybe put your hair up! Cruise ships have flower shops. You can get a small bouquet or even tuck an orchid or a rose in your hair. Just some ideas for you to think about. Just remember this isn’t a wedding, and you and he get to make it whatever you want and afford.

      Let me know what you decide to do! I’m excited for you!
      xoxox, Brenda

    • LOL, Beckye! Yesterday I brought home two 8-week-old puppies from the animal shelter. It’s all I can do to find time to eat and get on my computer! Someday… At least you have me thinking about it. xoxox, Brenda

  6. This is definitely The WOW dress and obviously made for YOU to wear with James! Such a Treasure….just like your wedding to James and the photo afterward. The whole story is pure romance. Love all your stories but , of course, this is special. XO Linda

  7. Wow!!! You’re not kidding! What a beautiful couple you two make. Precious memories, I’m sure. But painful, as well. You’re so grave to share so much of yourself with us, Brenda. ❤

  8. Beautiful! The sheen of the dress matches the glow of your faces. Wish there were more pics of the two of you! I love that you’re barefoot.

    • I’ve pulled my photos out of storage, but other than this one in a frame, the rest are are boxed up! Barefoot… The shoes were strappy and silver with some rhinestones… gorgeous, but at a certain point… Bye, bye! XOXOX, Brenda

  9. What a gorgeous dress for a stunning bride! I know you were so blessed by your marriage, and you have such precious memories. Thank you for sharing them with us!

    • I appreciate it that you read my blog, Susan! Yes, we were so blessed. Me, particularly because I got to see what it’s like to be loved, adored and appreciated. That’s a hard act to follow. xoxox, Brenda

  10. Brenda – I love your dress! It’s stunning and had WOW written all over it! For my second marriage, I didn’t have time to shop for a dress. We rushed our wedding date to take advantage of my brother’s cancer being in remission. I ended up wearing a white suit with a scalloped neckline that I had bought several years prior at Filene’s Basement in Boston in their designer section. It was so pretty and a great deal so I bought it – never had it in mind that I would marry in it some day!

    • It’s wonderful you moved up your wedding date! What a loving and special thing to do. If I’d seen my silver dress, I wouldn’t have bought it, even on sale–I’m not much of a shopper–because I wouldn’t have had a place to wear it. But I don’t feel that way anymore. I don’t think I can correlate my change of heart to my dress, but like you, I’ve bought a number of things–on sale–without knowing where I’ll wear them. Two weeks ago, I bought a fabulous black suede jacket with trapunto stitching on the outside, lined with curly, black Mongolian wool on the inside. The craftsmanship is special. It had been around the country at every Neiman Marcus store/sale, but no one bought it. Like my wedding dress, I think it was waiting for me. I got an unbelievable deal. It’s a showstopper! More than anything, I think the over 50 fashion bloggers I see on Instagram have taught me to wear what you want; layer on the bling and the scarves and who cares what anyone else thinks? We only come around once! Do it your way! xoxox, Brenda

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