There were tears in her voice. “But, it’s not white.”
My mother joined us for the final bridal gown fitting. I didn’t quite get the significance of her tortured expression. The bridal shop owner did. She quickly stepped in and offered an explanation.
“Your daughter is like many brides, especially at this time of year. A pure white gown would wash out her complexion. Ivory is so much more flattering.”
Translation that my mother heard…It does not mean that she is not a virgin.
This was the 1970’s and those things still mattered to her.
She and my father eloped. It was said that her parents disapproved of him. She was 22 and still lived at home. He was 24, an army veteran.
They married in Maryland in a civil ceremony. She wore an aqua blue dress. She always regretted that she was not married in white. She talked about it. I remember the dress, as it hung forever in a garment bag in the attic closet.
The reason this was such a sensitive issue became apparent years later.
I found the letter.
It was among the few personal items that she kept locked in a cedar wardrobe.
It was a love letter from my father. It was also an apology. He told her how sorry he was for thinking that she was “that kind of girl” and promised that they could wait until they were married. She should have worn white.
We had wanted a small ceremony on campus. We were talked out of that, and I’m glad.
My parents had 4 daughters, 2 sons, but mine was the only wedding that involved them.
My oldest sister staged her wedding in Philadelphia, where they’d made a home for a few years. My parents were guests.
The next sister was married in Las Vegas. My 2 brothers were married, years apart, in a small chapel in Maryland. My youngest sister never married her common law husband of 25 years.
So my wedding was their only shot at the big party.
I have no regrets. It was special.
And the bride wore ivory. So did the groom.