Saying ‘Yes’ to the Dress


Tuesday I took a break from prepping our house for sale to drive to Jeanette’s Bride N’ Boutique in Manassas.

I was meeting my daughter to help her pick out her wedding dress!

Leaving the painters, carpet layers, brick workers, landscapers and tree removers behind was a welcome escape. She was afraid I’d forget, but I arrived on time and in a dress, with makeup, hair curled, gift bags in hand…nothing like the worn jeans, t-shirt and baseball cap I’d been living in for days. This was her moment.

Her maid of honor was there, and helped her pull gowns to try on. A bridesmaid soon arrived, and all three of us formed a solid front of support and calm reassurance. She was nervous about what she would look like, almost dreading the start of the process. Like jumping off the high dive.

All of that fell away when she emerged from the dressing room, huge clips holding the first gown close to her body, stepping onto a little pedestal in front of mirrors. I don’t know what she felt, but I felt sheer joy. How beautiful God made my daughter! This is the baby we didn’t know we could have! Her birth father had been through chemotherapy early in our marriage. When she was born, one of my first visitors in Prince William Hospital was his oncologist. This was the gawky, leggy safety patrol and science fair winner, teased for some perceived imperfection or lack of social skills. This was the teenager with the tight red metallic jeans and tiny shirts, ear piercings and hair fiascos, letting more hang out than a mom was ready for. This was the Home Depot associate, a roll of tape on her arm, and awards hanging off her orange apron; the George Mason University graduate, wearing a green robe and accepting her well-earned biology degree.

And now, there she was, a Venus in white, with round curves, toned arms, a smooth, flawless back exposed by hair swept up and held to one side by flowery clip; her collarbone and posture, regal. A natural beauty that, it was soon evident, could carry any style of gown – clingy, flared, dropped at the waist. My daughter is a woman. I already knew that, but what a cool rite of passage, to witness the swan preening her white feathers in front of a three-fold mirror with showroom lighting. It’s a Tuesday, this is Manassas, my daughter is a goddess. I felt totally blessed.

By the third dress, she knew she had “The One”: a dress that would complement what her groom would be wearing and what she hoped to evoke in the style of her wedding. It was made for her.
We knew it, too, because we were no longer sitting like a panel of judges. The dress made all of us want to draw closer to her. It was a stunning piece of work. With the light hitting the beadwork and lace it looked as if the angels had sewed it – or at least those cute little Disney fairy tale mice and birds; it was so delicate and ethereal. She had transformed in it: The Bride.

The rest was all measurements and questions (heels or flats for the hemming?) and filling out forms. Soon she was back in her own street clothes. I handed gifts to her friends – votive “White Linen” candles – and for my daughter, a Pandora charm called “First Dance” – a bride in her wedding gown, dancing with her groom or father. I’d selected them at Allyssa Bryn Accessories in Historic Old Town Manassas, to commemorate the occasion.

"First Dance"
“First Dance”

By next year – February – my daughter’s dress will arrive at the shop for alterations and she’ll put it on for the first time. I’m so happy for her!

I left her and her friends to their lunch plans, and went back to our home, the white split-level, still in its beehive of activity. I’ll soon be in a new home, starting a new stage in my life.

My minister always quotes Henri-Frederic Amiel in her blessing – “Life is short and we never have enough time for the hearts of those who travel the way with us. O, be swift to love! Make haste to be kind.”


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