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Christa Lawler, Published March 28 2014

Grand Rapids native reveals wedding dress on TLC show

A Grand Rapids, Minn., native’s struggle to find the perfect wedding dress was the featured plotline on a TV program that offers brides the option of dresses hand-picked by experts – or a version of their mom’s dress updated by a top designer.

Kayla Williams’ case originally aired Friday night on “Something Borrowed, Something New,” one of the Friday Bride Day shows on the cable channel TLC. It re-airs at 6 p.m. this Friday

Williams, who lives in Riverside, Calif., had tried 30 to 40 dresses when she sent her story to the show’s producers. She thought reconfiguring her mother’s old dress might work.

“I told them I wanted a closer relationship with my mom,” Williams said. “I wanted her to be involved with the whole wedding dress experience. I was hoping for them to transform her dress into something I could wear.”

Anita Williams said the two women are so different, stylistically, that she was surprised when her daughter asked about her dress.

“I thought it was a joke,” she said. “I didn’t even take her seriously.”

But she came around and helped Kayla Williams by taking a photograph of the dress. She purposefully hung it from mounted deer antlers to show off her hunter side – one of many differences between Anita Williams and her vegetarian daughter.

The dress makeover would seemingly be a tall task. Anita Williams wore a long dress with puffy sleeves when she got married to Jack Williams in 1984. (They’ve since divorced, and Jack Williams lives in Duluth).

“This thing had eight different types of lace on it,” Kayla Williams said. “She had a cowboy hat with a veil. It was like ‘Little House on the Prairie,’ really long and with a long train. It was like from the 1800s.”

It was not what Kayla Williams had in mind for her September 2014 wedding.

“It looked beautiful on her; it did not look good on me,” she said.

Williams said she was looking for something elegant and Greek goddess-like, maybe in chiffon. She and her fiancé, Eric Smith, both scientists pursing doctorates in their respective fields of microbiology and genetics, are getting married at Como Park Conservatory in St. Paul.

“I wanted it to be comfortable because I’m going to have to be in it for 10 hours,” she said. “I didn’t want a train – or a long one, at least. I was open to lace. I really wanted a sweetheart neckline. That was really important.”

The show was filmed in Burbank, Calif., this past June. Williams was blindfolded while the show’s staff helped her try on dozens of dresses to whittle down the selection to about five that would appear on the program.

“I wasn’t shy by the end of the week,” she said.

Williams couldn’t reveal whether she picked her mother’s revamped dress or one selected by stylists. But, like her mother 30 years ago, she knew the right one when she saw it.

“It’s the perfect dress for me,” she said. “It’s everything that I wanted, and as soon as I put it on, I knew it was the dress I was going to be marrying Eric in.”

‘Something Borrowed, Something New’

When: Re-airs at 6 p.m. Friday

Channel: TLC, Channel 32 in Fargo-Moorhead