|© Catherine Husted|
by Amy Kuras
After the Big Day, it gets dry-cleaned, wrapped carefully around bodice-shaped cardboard, placed in a double-thick acid-free cardboard box the size of a bathtub, and stored in the closet. And there it stays, year after year.
You look at the precious box occasionally, wondering why you paid that enormous sum for the once-worn outfit, and of more practical items that you could have bought instead—a washing machine, a bicycle, a trip to the Bahamas.
So went the conversation with girlfriends one night at Arbor Brewing Company, over pints of beer and sweet-potato fries. We bemoaned how much we paid for our wedding dresses and reminisced about how little we weighed on our wedding days. Then my friend April suggested it might be fun to wear our dresses one more time, together, at a party.
We chuckled at the thought. But the next time we convened at the pub, it came up again. Finally, after more beer, we decided to seize the opportunity before fitting into the dresses was no longer worth considering. April works at the Matthaei Botanical Gardens, site of so many weddings, and was able to secure us a summer evening.
The next time I touched the enormous acid-free box, it was with a sense of purpose. I unwrapped multiple layers of tissue paper, and there it lay, with mysterious stains on the skirt, looking much smaller than I remembered.
With some trepidation, I tried it on, or mostly on—I was able to zip the dress only to my waist. Fortunately, the fabric is cotton brocade, and after I wetted it down it stretched enough to zip most of the way up. I could even take some short, shallow breaths. Sitting, however, would be painful and possibly injurious, and closing those little pearly buttons was out of the question.
As I arrived at Matthaei, two friends in flowing taffeta-and-silk gowns spilled out of their car. We waltzed towards the conservatory together, trying not to trip on our hems as we
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