Over 31 years ago, as a young bride, I made a decision that every bride faces…I decided to have my wedding dress professionally cleaned and preserved.
How many of you still have your wedding gown sealed in that big, white box with the plastic ‘window’? I know I’m not the only one.
Do you have it taking up valuable storage space in your attic, the back of a closet or the dark recesses of the basement? After moving it from one house to the next, and having to find a new place to store it each time, I have often considered getting rid of it. But then the familiar, “But I spent so much money to have it cleaned and preserved” kicked in. So I would resist. Another one of my regular excuses was, “I’ve kept it this long, might as well wait now.” I guess I clung to the hope that my daughters would want to wear it on their wedding day (even though they adamantly said they wouldn’t).
Each time my husband and I decluttered our storage area to make room for the new items we wanted to store, I would look at that box and consider whether I could justify the expensive real estate it was hogging.
Last month, my youngest daughter started planning her Halloween costume. Although she’s 25 years old, this remains one of her favorite holidays and she never misses the opportunity to dress up. This year she was going as Cinderella, and she told me she needed a tiara. I wore a tiara when I got married, and it was in that box with my gown. Dare I break the seal?
Being the practical person that I am, and seeing this as the perfect opportunity to finally let go of that space-hogging piece of memorabilia, I made a proposal. I agreed to let her wear my tiara if she agreed to just try on my dress. My older daughter agreed to try it on as well. Maybe there was a small part of me that was hoping once they saw how great it looked on them, they would at least entertain the idea of wearing it when their time arrived.
They humored me by trying it on but they didn’t hold back on their complaints. It didn’t fit – too short & too tight. It was itchy. It smelled musty (so much for the expensive preservation process). It looked old-fashioned. And I had to admit, it did not look as good as I thought it would. Frankly, it looked like a Halloween costume on them – not at all the way I envisioned my daughters on their wedding day! So I took a couple of pictures (in case I needed to be reminded of what it actually looked like on them), and then I just let it go.
Wait until you hear what happened next.
I’m not sure if I attribute this to The Law of Attraction ‘what you focus on you attract’, or the belief that by letting go of what we don’t need, we make space for something new and positive. The day after my girls tried on the wedding dress and I made the decision to donate it, my youngest daughter’s boyfriend came over to ask for her hand in marriage. I kid you not! He had no idea she had tried on my dress the day before. And the ring was purchased months ago. But he chose that day – less than 24 hours later – to ask for our blessing.
Was I disappointed to face the fact that my girls were not going to wear my gown on their wedding day? Not after seeing how dated it looked and admitting it was not their style.
Was I sad to let it go? Well, when I dropped it off at the thrift shop, I admit I had a very short ‘nostalgic moment’ but the relief I felt afterwards lasted much longer. It made me happy that someone was going to use it – at least for Halloween. And the extra space it made in our storage area – well, that made me positively giddy!
Do I regret spending the money to preserve it? Do I regret holding on to it for over 31 years? No, because I didn’t know then what I know now. And if sharing my experience helps others with their keep/donate decision, it makes it all worth it. Best of all, my daughter and her ‘prince charming’ are getting married! Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a wedding to help plan.