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Heidi Shaffer, Published December 08 2011

Shaffer: Gown’s stains hold memories

Last year at this time, my unworn wedding dress hung with prestige at my mom’s house waiting for my New Year’s Day wedding.

I had just picked it up from the bridal store, and was oh-so careful as I placed all 15 pounds of its beaded and taffeta glory in my car. I would try the gown on every so often with care not to spill, rip or defile it in any way.

The wedding came and went, and right now, my gorgeous wedding gown is full of stains and shoved into our already packed guest room closet.

I have a history of dress neglect.

A co-worker pointed out this week that I’ve had my senior prom dress circa 2002 and the magenta bridesmaids gown I wore for my sister’s wedding in 2003 in my car’s trunk for as long as she’s known me. Why they’re there, I can’t honestly say. I always plan to donate them around prom season, but by now, I doubt any high-schooler would find them very stylish.

My wedding dress sits in a closet both because I’m lazy and because I don’t really know what to do with it.

Like many brides I know, after almost a year of wedding planning, the last thing I wanted to think about after the big day was anything dealing with weddings.

I planned to have it cleaned, but as I pulled out the gown again the other night, I realized that with each of those stains that remain on the dress come memories.

The red lipstick stain on the inside of the silk lining reminded me of when my sister and mom pulled the dress over my head in the freezing cold bathroom stall. At that exact moment my mom spoke to my dad on the phone and learned he wasn’t going to make it to the wedding from Jamestown because of the massive blizzard that had pounded the state for several days.

The beaded bodice has the lightest of sea foam green dusting in certain areas courtesy of the frosting from the top tier of the wedding cake. The icing hit the dress as my uncle and I loaded it into a box to be placed in our freezer for our first anniversary.

A ribbon that held the bustle for my dress’s train hangs from where it was ripped as I danced the night away with my best friends.

The black filth along the bottom of the skirt reminds me of the snow I walked through to take photos – the same snow that cut our attendance by two-thirds and stranded our family members across the Midwest.

My dress is no longer perfect, but it means something to me because of the day I wore it.

Will I keep it?


Will I ever clean or hang it up?

Maybe for my golden anniversary.

Readers can reach Forum business editor Heidi Shaffer at (701) 241-5511