3 WAYS WITH MUM’S DRESS
These ladies decided to ditch the “something new” and walk down the aisle in “something old” – and very close to their hearts – instead…
Five years ago in April 2011, as the world was getting ready to watch Prince William and Kate Middleton’s royal wedding, I decided to try on my late mum’s wedding dress. Wearing her gown, I knew that one day I wanted to be married in a classic long-sleeved lace gown myself.
My mum passed away when I was 17 after a two-year battle with brain cancer, which was very difficult for me. I’m the youngest of eight children, and was the last to be married in my family.
My husband Nick and I were set up on a blind date on Boxing Day in 2013, just before my 24th birthday. Exactly one year later, we were married in a little chapel by the sea in Dunsborough, Western Australia – the same location where we had our first date.
I decided it would be a tribute to my mum to incorporate her wedding dress into mine, so I hand-picked the lace off the cuffs and the bodice of her gown. I wanted to feel like I had a part of her with me on my special day.
Soon after, I met with a dressmaker who specialises in bridalwear. She really understood my vision, so I let her use her inspiration and form a dress that would make my mum’s lace the feature.
Nick never had the chance to meet my mum, and obviously didn’t see the dress until I was walking down the aisle, but he thought the idea of using her lace would make it so meaningful.
I never imagined my mum wouldn’t be at my wedding, but I decided to make the tribute a positive one.
HANNAH MARTIN, 26, PAID TRIBUTE TO HER LATE MUM BY INCORPORATING THE LACE FROM HER WEDDING GOWN INTO HER OWN
Through the dress, I felt her spirit by my side the whole day. It was very comforting, but also so emotional.
I loved that I was wearing something so timeless that was once worn by my mother when she married my father in 1970, six weeks after he returned from the Vietnam War. A lot of my mum’s and dad’s friends were at our wedding; they told me she would’ve been proud. I think lots of women secretly keep their wedding dress and hope their daughter will one day wear it, but most of the time the style goes out of fashion.
Every day, I look at the close-up portrait of Mum on her wedding day. She looks so beautiful! It inspired me to ask my photographer on my own big day to do a close-up portrait. Now, I can place them side by side forever.
My best advice to brides is to find something you really love about a family heirloom – even if it’s just the veil – and incorporate it into the day. Trust me, you won’t regret it.
Initially, I dreaded the thought of going out to buy a wedding dress. I came home from work one day and said to Mum, “I have an idea about the dress I’d like to wear.” “You could wear mine,” she replied jokingly, but it was exactly what I was thinking.
Fortunately for me, immediately after Mum’s wedding day back in 1981, my grandmother had her dress dry-cleaned and boxed, so it was in virtually brand-new condition, even after all those years. I tried it on to check the fit – and it was perfect.
Mum was really happy and even got a bit teary.
However, there were a few changes I wanted to make. The collar was a little restrictive, so it needed to go. Then we replaced the 34-yearold zipper, so that we wouldn’t have any dramas on the day, and inserted a hoop, which was something Mum wished she had done herself. All of the alterations were done by the wonderful designer Diana Toscano (toscanobridal.com.au),
IT ONLY TOOK ELLIE McGILL, 27, A FEW ALTERATIONS TO TURN HER MUM’S WEDDING GOWN INTO HER OWN DREAM STYLE
“I FELT SO HONOURED TO WEAR THE SAME GOWN MY MOTHER HAD WORN OVER 30 YEARS AGO”
who also made a new veil and headpiece to match the existing lace. Altering a wedding gown is trickier than starting out from scratch, but she was extremely skilful and careful with the material.
My husband, Patrick, and I had a traditional church wedding. The dress was perfect for the afternoon ceremony, but I wanted to put my own twist on it for the evening. So, for the reception, I removed the lace bolero to reveal a beautiful loveheart bodice. Diana also made me a jewelled waist belt. Some guests thought I’d changed into a new dress because it looked so different!
I felt honoured to wear the same gown my mother had worn. Patrick loved the idea, too. In fact, he’d done something similar. His dad had kept Patrick’s late mother’s engagement ring, so when Patrick told his father he was going to propose to me, his dad gave the ring to him. It was such a beautiful gesture and meant so much to both of us.
If you want to pass your dress on to your daughter one day, the best advice I can give is to get it dry-cleaned straight away; it’s the only reason I was able to actually wear my mum’s dress. She was told by her own mother to dry-clean it ASAP… and thank goodness she did!
Ialways used to dress up in Mum’s dress when I was little and knew that one day I’d wear it for real.
It’s very sentimental to me and my mum was really happy that I wore it on my wedding day. She bought it from the House of Franke Stuart back in 1982, a shop in Melbourne that was known for its beautiful lace.
I was really lucky: my mum had kept her dress in beautiful condition by storing it in a camphor-wood chest.
My mum and I took it to a friend of a friend who’s a wedding dressmaker. We decided we should take out the lace from around the neck and the sleeves, and lower the back, too.
Originally, I didn’t think to have it shortened, but when I tried the dress on before the wedding, it didn’t feel quite right, so we had it taken up. In fact, after the alterations, my mum said she’d have liked to have worn the finished result on her own big day! Also, my daughter Poppy was eight months old when my husband, Terrence, and I got married, so we used the material that had been cut off to make her flower-girl dress.
My husband is very much like me and likes op shops and second-hand things, so he loved the dress and the fact it was my mum’s. He said he knew for a long time that I was going to wear it – I must have spoken about it before we even got engaged!
It was so special to wear my mum’s dress on my wedding day. Although I didn’t change it a lot, people can get really creative with this sort of thing.
Mum’s since put the dress back in the camphor-wood chest. I’d love for Poppy to wear it one day!
EMILY HAMILTON, 31, ALWAYS KNEW SHE’D WEAR HER MUM’S DRESS, SO SHE GAVE IT A MODERN TWIST FOR HER BIG DAY
Far left: Hannah in her big-day gown, which paid tribute to her mum’s dress (near left). Right: with husband Nick.
Photography by Alyce & Colette (alyceand colette.com).
Above: Emily’s mum in her original gown and (right) the updated version. Below: Poppy also got a dress out of it! Photography by Amy Cameron/Red Finch Photography