In that moment, I was thankful that she had chosen the medium of text message to ask me that question.
Had she asked me in person it could have been really awkward… It’s not that I don’t like the dress – on the contrary, my mum looked gorgeous in it, and it’s not hideous – but I was after something totally different.
As most women do, my mum kept her wedding dress. After the big day, she packed it away safely into a bag and then a box, never to be seen again. That is, until my partner and I announced that we had finally set a date for our own wedding, which prompted mum to ask me if I wanted to wear her wedding dress.
It’s a sensitive subject: even though her dress is not at all what I want to wear, the fact that my mum offered it to me is an honour. She painstakingly chose this dress, above all others, and wore it when she married my dad. And then she kept it stored for twenty-four years, until the day when she could offer it to me. How do I tactfully say no without breaking her heart…?
Thankfully, when my mum asked me that question, I don’t have to say no. I’ve discovered that there are a number of ways to refashion and use the fabric on my wedding day, without looking like I’ve stepped out of a time machine!
This is the obvious choice if the style is similar, and if there is enough fabric in good condition. If you can’t create your dream wedding dress, refashion the dress into a reception dress or ‘rehearsal’ dress.
But before refashioning your mum’s wedding dress, go and ask her first before you cut it up. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!
Using the Details
If you like the embellishment but you aren’t keen on the style, go to a reputable dressmaker and find out if you can somehow incorporate the detail into your chosen dress. If the dress is plain, use the fabric to create a waist sash.
Is there any beading or embellishment on the dress? Instead of incorporating into your dress, you could create a vintage-style lace or beaded headpiece.
Mesh, lace or sheer fabric can be used as a veil.
Tie Up Your Bouquet
Instead of using ribbon, use pieces of the dress to tie around the stems in your bouquet.
Find your favourite part of the dress, and use it to make your accessories. You could fashion a unique charm or fabric button pendant for a necklace, or if there is enough lace and detail you could create a fabric necklace or bracelet.
Does you need to alter your dress to add a lace-up feature? See if the dressmaker can use the fabric to create a modesty panel and lace-up back with tie.
The bridal garter is a long-standing wedding tradition, and you can keep it going by creating one from the dress fabric.
Create a simple envelope-style clutch to use on the day – you can keep your vows inside, or your emergency sewing or make-up supplies.
Buy plain shoes, and use the lace or fabric over the straps. Dye the fabric for a stunning colour effect.
If you’re using a ring pillow, the dress fabric could become the pillow cover. If your flower girl is using a basket, the fabric could line the basket.
Fabric flowers are adorable, and a quick search shows that fabric flowers are easy to DIY. For a colourful bouquet, dye swatches of the fabric.
If you love the idea of fabric flowers but aren’t keen on a fabric bouquet, you could create a stunning centrepiece for your reception. Display the piece at the entrance, on your bridal table, or on each table if there is enough fabric.
Make a stunning cover for your chair that can be passed down as an heirloom.
If your mum’s dress has buttons, beads, pearls, or other decorative notions, use them to give a unique look to earrings, necklaces, bracelets, or hair clips.
Use pieces of the fabric at the reception. Table holders, vases and glass candleholders, can all be glamorised by lace, beading or fabric.
I’m not sure how I’ll use my mum’s dress yet, but I know it’s going to be fantastic!
Have you refashioned a wedding dress or an old dress?Share your reinvented designed with us.
Alisia Cameron is a SAHM and lesbian parent to two girls, and is (finally) marrying her fiance of 8 years in 2014. She is a trainee yoga teacher, studying early childhood teaching at university, completing an Honours research project examining family diversity in early childhood education settings, and is planning a wedding. In her spare time she can be found staring into space while wondering if she actually does have spare time, or if she’s just forgotten everything she needs to be doing.