One of the biggest decisions facing a bride is what to wear on her wedding day. The choices can be almost overwhelming: designer, off-the-rack, custom, vintage, and so on. But before you start shopping for a new bridal gown, you may want to first find out if your mother has saved hers.
Many brides look at the pictures of their mother's wedding dress and think, "No way!". But do not be so quick to dismiss the idea. Wearing your mother's bridal gown is a very special thing to do, and it will add another layer of meaning to your event.
Frequently, it is possible to drastically alter or even remake a new dress from your mother's gown. Usually moms are willing to allow their daughters to adapt their old gown to make it perfect for the next generation. The key is to find a seamstress with experience in restoring and remaking vintage gowns.
It is very, very rare for a bride to fit into her mom's wedding gown right off the bat. No matter how slender the young woman is, the older gowns are inevitably too tight across the shoulders, because women today are more athletic than they were 30 years ago. Do not allow this to discourage you from wearing your mother's gown. It would be the rare dress that can not be adjusted to fit. The usual way is to borrow fabric from the gown's train to recut a back panel of the bodice – and voila! – Problem solved.
Now that we have determined that the gown can be made to fit, the next question is one of style. Most mothers of the bride were married in a time when dresses had long sleeves. Let's say that your mother was married in the early 1970s. When you pull her gown out of the box, you will probably find a slender A-line dress with long sleeves, an empire waist, and a short attached train, or possibly a detachable train. It was popular to have a sheer fabric like an organza or a net draped over a stiff taffeta backing. Lace appliqués were also very in vogue at the time.
Wearing your mother's bridal gown does not have to mean looking like a vintage bride. There are some great ways to update a gown like that to make it feel fresh and modern. The first step is to remove the sleeves. Suddenly, you will find yourself looking at a simple A-line gown with clean lines – better already, right? The neckline will likely be too conservative, so either recut it lower, or take off the shoulders completely to create a spaghetti strap or even a strapless gown (to turn a dress into a strapless gown, though, be prepared to pay at least as much as buying a brand new dress). The older fabrics were usually of a very nice quality, and will clean up well. Then you can decide how much of the original lace to use on your new-old dress.
Once you have recreated the gown to suit your style, it is time to choose your accessories. A long simple veil often looks great with clean lines; if your mom's dress had a fuller skirt, consider a short, full veil. For bridal jewelry sets, one idea is to choose Swarovski pearls in a warm ivory or bronze tone. Usually an older gown will not be bright white, so it will be prettier to select bridal jewelry sets in richer colors.
There is a lot of history in a wedding gown passed down from mother to daughter. Choosing to wear your mother's bridal gown on your wedding day is a very special way of showing your mom how much she means to you. The dress will become a treasured family heirloom that you can pass down to your own daughter someday.