Family wedding traditions might involve a special toast, dance or ceremony… but some families insist on passing down the gown. But what happens when grandma’s wedding gown is all wrong (and doesn’t fit)? Leave it to TLC to create the new hit wedding show, Something Borrowed, Something New which has brides having to choose between a new gown that’s all their own or a reworked version of their family’s sentimental hand-me-down. While it may seem out there to want to wear a Princess Diana-inspired dress from the 80s, choosing to incorporate a family member’s gown into a wedding can be an eco-friendly choice that brings generations together. Here are some guidelines to think about.
If the dress doesn’t fit and is beyond the realm of a seamstress, it probably isn’t going to work for your wedding day. If family members are pressuring you to wear the dress and “just let out the seams,” let them know that not every seamstress is as magical as Cinderella’s fairy godmother. Instead, look for another dress and find ways to incorporate the old gown into the new look.
Maybe the dress is made of gorgeous silk or lace, but isn’t your style. If the dress isn’t too discoloured, it’s worth going for a consultation with a seamstress or designer to explore the possibilities of reconstructing your mother’s gown. There are always limitations, but like the TLC show, sometimes the transformation can be beautiful and touching. In Toronto, Little.White.Dress is an eco-friendly bridal line that repurposes vintage fabrics and can make dresses for clients out of their mother’s or grandmother’s wedding gown.
It’s all in the details
If you have no intention on wearing an old gown on your special day, but your family is relentless, look at ways to incorporate accents from the old gown into your modern new look. Lace is a good way to start. If the hand-me-down has beautiful lace sleeves or neckline, why not cut them off and use the lace as trim along your neckline or veil. Another great way to use pieces from an old gown is to use the fabric, lace or beading and affix it onto a belt. It’s a subtle nod to the dress’ history without having to take over your bridal look.
If your family won’t budge on you wearing the gown, and re-constructing great-grandma’s Victorian gown is out of the question, consider an outfit change and wear it for a (brief time) at the reception. You could also compromise, and set up the dress on a mannequin to display it along a guest table with photos of the family member in the gown on their wedding day.
Even if wearing the old gown is out of the question, there are always ways to incorporate into the ceremony and pay tribute to your family’s history.