True Wedding Gown Story by Heather Achord

As I was planning my wedding, I decided I wanted to be a little different and go with a renaissance theme. After all, one of my husband and my favorite dates had been a trip to the Louisiana Renaissance Festival. In fact, he considered proposing at the festival, but decided against it for fear that it might embarrass me to get that much attention. I must say, it was quite a challenge to find just the right dress to fit my theme. Since my wedding was planned for the summer, most dresses I found in the local bridal shops were strapless and those that weren’t just didn’t have the right look to them. It didn’t help that I had very specific details in mind that I refused to budge on.

I wanted a dress that made me look and feel like a princess; one with bell sleeves, a corset bodice that laced up the back, and a pretty train. After scouring the local bridal shops and failing to find a dress that even came close to making me happy I resorted to the Internet. Finally, I spotted the perfect dress. It had all the features I wanted and more. With a renewed sense of excitement I called around and crossed my fingers that a shop somewhere near my home would have it in their showroom.

One of the local bridal shops confirmed that they could order it for me, but I wasn’t comfortable doing so without first trying it on. Luck was finally on my side, as I found a store a little farther from home that actually had it. When I finally saw it in person I was not disappointed. The pictures hadn’t done it justice. It was absolutely beautiful! I eagerly slipped it on and stepped in front of the mirrors. I couldn’t stop smiling once I saw my reflection: this was the one. On my wedding day, wearing my dress and tiara, I looked and felt just like a princess which is exactly what any woman should feel like when she finally marries her Prince Charming.

EPSON MFP imageOf course, this fairy tale comes with a twist. Some time after the wedding, the owner of the bridal shop where I’d purchased the dress contacted me asking if I’d be willing to let her borrow my dress to show to another bride. Knowing how much trouble I’d gone through to find my dream dress, I sympathized with the bride and agreed. In return, the shop owner generously offered to have my dress preserved for me, free of charge. Then, just two months after my wedding, Hurricane Katrina landed in Louisiana.

We evacuated and lived with my new in-laws for a while. Luckily all of our belongings were spared. That just left my dress to worry about. When we returned, it took some time to get in touch with the shop owner to check on my dress. She informed me that the dress was at the cleaners and provided me with a point of contact. Anxious to find out if my dress had been damaged, I called the cleaners. The response shocked me: the cleaner said he didn’t have my dress and never had.

After a lot of phone calls and arguing with the bridal shop owner, I finally got my dress back. There’s no telling where it had been all that time. It was a bit dirtier than I had remembered it being, but at least I finally had it back. I hung it in a spare closet at my parents’ home and that’s where it stayed for the next seven years, nearly forgotten as other important milestones in my life, such as buying a home and starting a family, became my priority.

Then one day, as I was trying on a bridesmaid dress for my little brother’s wedding I remembered my dress and decided it was well past time to have it cleaned and preserved. I wanted to be sure that my dress was well taken care of, so I searched long and hard on the Internet to find a place that I felt I could trust with my beloved dress. That’s when I found Heritage Garment Preservation and decided they would be the ones to handle this important task.

I hate to admit it, but I nearly cried as my husband and I carefully packed the dress into a box to ship it to them. I guess it sounds silly, but looking at the dress brought back all the memories and emotions tied to it. Now it’s in their hands and I’m trusting them to take good care of it and get it safely back to me. I feel like my dress is in good hands, but of course I can’t wait until it’s back in mine; that’s when the “story” of my wedding dress will finally have it’s happily ever after.

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