A Family Heirloom

Dimples wedding gown communion dress FINALThis time last year, we were preparing for Dimples’ First Holy Communion, going to the seamstress for alterations and getting so excited for her big day.  I thought maybe those of you who are new here would enjoy reading about how we turned my wedding gown into a family heirloom 1st Holy Communion Dress! 

A year ago, our oldest son received his First Holy Communion.  We carefully chose a smart navy suit for him to wear, complete with a crisp white shirt, gold silk tie, leather belt and shoes, and one of those gold lapel pins that little boys wear on such an occasion.  We came home from the department store to try on his new threads and when he walked into the living room to show his dad and siblings, his sister Dimples pretended to faint.  It was absolutely adorable and he was so very proud.

And so were we.  It was a joyous occasion and the clothes were an indication of how very special this day was for us.  There is just something about a First Holy Communion, isn’t there?  All those innocent, sometimes toothless grins, slicked hair, and awkward praying hands poses.  Seeing our oldest son looking so sharp and grown up, yet so young and still fresh from God was a moment in time:  one I will never forget.

But I’m not gonna lie.  I was thinking ahead the whole time.  “One year from now our oldest daughter will be in those shoes, only hers will be white patent leather.  And what will her dress look like?”  Swoon.  And then I had an idea.

What if I took my wedding dress to a trusted seamstress and had it made into a First Holy Communion dress?

When I get an idea, it’s never a “we’ll wait and see” situation.  I promptly trotted down to the basement storage, carried my wedding dress and veil in their creepy “Bridal Keepsake” box up to my room, whipped them both out of their protective preserved coverings and hung them from the ceiling fan above my bed.  I took some photos and posted them to Facebook to take a poll.  The album was entitled “Wedding Dress=First Holy Communion Gown?” and the responses were mixed.  Many friends said I would be denying my daughters the chance to wear my dress on their wedding day.  In the end, the thought I kept returning to was this:

Wouldn’t my daughters be more likely to want to wear a First Communion dress made out of Mommy’s wedding gown?  I just couldn’t picture them choosing my gown for their wedding day.

So this past February, I spoke to the wonderful woman who made all the window treatments for our home when we moved in almost six years ago.  Her name is Marie and she is one of the sweetest, most generous women I have ever known.  Over the years, she has made table cloths, pillows, valances, roman shades, and drapes for me at very fair prices.  Her work is impeccable.

Dimples and I headed over to Marie’s with the dress and a pattern in hand, not knowing what amazing things she would be able to do with my gown.

We laid the gown out on her work table so that she could get a good look at the lining and the beading.  I asked her to use the pattern I brought just for the sleeves, using fabric from the train that would have to be cut off to make them.

Marie asked Dimples to put the dress on… She was happy to comply.  And when she got a good look at her in the dress she decided that it would be possible for her to make the sleeves, no problem.  Originally, however, I wanted her to use the bottom of the skirt on the dress, requiring her to remove the skirt from the bodice.  Marie insisted that keeping everything intact and just taking it in at the side seems was the best bet.  So Dimples stood up on Marie’s work table, dress on, and Marie cut off the train.  Right before my very eyes.  While my daughter was wearing it.

And you know what?  I was completely peaceful the entire time!  I knew we had made the right decision.  The Hubs, on the other hand, was hesitant.  He suggested something cute and adorable and unsurprisingly sentimental.  “Do you think Marie could make a ring bearer pillow out of some of the leftover fabric from the train?  Something that our children could use for their weddings someday?”  I love that man.

And she did.  She made the pillow and the sleeves.  She lovingly and carefully worked with all the detail and beading on the bodice of the dress and took it in just the right amount.  Everything on the lining of the dress has been hand basted so that whatever size our other two daughters are when they are ready to wear it, someone can easily take the dress in or let it out.  What a thoughtful and kind thing for Marie to do!

But what about the veil?  My veil would be the perfect color to match the dress, but tulle is not that easy to work with.  And I didn’t want anything that would take away from the dress or my daughter’s beautiful face.  It had to be simple and it had to be made by someone who knew just what she was doing.

I took the children to our parish book store during Coffee and Donuts after Mass one Sunday and inquired about the woman in the parish who I had heard makes custom veils for First Communions.  Donna just happened to be there, working at the book store that very day!  I explained to her what I wanted and a new friendship was born.  Donna came to our home to pick up the veil and the little bit of fabric from the train that I asked her to use for a headband.

She made the most perfect and beautiful veil, just as I envisioned it.

Last Saturday, our friend and wedding photographer who I have mentioned here many times before, met Dimples and I at church to take some portraits.  Please, visit my Flickr Account to see our beautiful little 1st Holy Communicant.

And if you’d like to take a look at the wedding photos Mark took, you can see the dress as it once was in my other Flickr Account.

Thank you, Marie, Donna, and Mark, for helping us make this day so special for our Dimples.  I am so grateful to all three of you for sharing your God-given creative gifts with us.  You truly have played integral parts in creating a family heirloom!

Categories: Believing Parenting


4 Responses to A Family Heirloom

  1. Both dresses are gorgeous! I agree with your logic. I think a first communicant is much more likely to want to wear mommy’s dress. I saved mine and now my daughter is 5 inches taller than me so I don’t think it is going to work. I know of one woman who saved her dress and when one of her sons became a priest she had it made into a surplice for him.

    • You know, this is kind of strange, but I used to have dreams about wearing my gown again for an anniversary. In every dream I would be debating whether I should wear the dress or not and would I look silly and would it fit? It was a very peculiar recurring dream that always made me feel uneasy for some reason. Once I let Marie take her scissors to my gown, I’ve never had the dream again. Not only that, but I have so much peace knowing that this sort of gift is one that hopefully generations of girls in our family will appreciate. At least, that’s my hope.
      Thanks for stopping by, Emily!

  2. That’s so lovely! I’m planning on doing the same with my wedding dress – my oldest daughter is only 4 but she’s already so excited! The only problem is we have twin girls after her so we’ve got to figure out a way to get two dresses out of it…

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