When Alexandra Adams Tyre walked down the aisle, she was stepping into a new chapter of her life. In another way, however, she was paying homage to her past.
Tyre’s dress was the same one her mother had married her father in over 30 years before. Luckily for her, the dress stood the test of time. This is due in part to its classic design, but also, more importantly, to her mother’s decision to professionally preserve the dress after her wedding all those years ago.
“I never really thought when I preserved it that my daughter would actually be wearing it someday,” says Marsha Adams, Tyre’s mother. “But it was really amazing to see her.”
Adams also says the dress she picked out for her wedding was very similar to the one her mother, Tyre’s grandmother, had worn on her wedding day. She said in this way, it was almost like three generations in the dress.
“(Many) people that saw it had no idea how special it actually was,” Tyre says. “It definitely made the day more memorable. We took lots of pictures prior to me walking down the aisle with my mom. Those were some of the most special pictures to me. (Somewhat) even more so than just walking down the aisle was taking those pictures with her.”
A few of the wedding guests did know the history of the dress and were taken aback when they saw her.
“My brother (Tyre’s uncle) came up to me afterward,” Adams says. “He said, ‘When she walked down the aisle, I just burst into tears because she looked just like you.’”
For many, either donning their mother’s gown or hoping their future daughter will wear theirs is mostly just wishful thinking. Too many factors need to align for a scenario such as Marsha’s and Alexandra’s. In reality, most women don’t share the same taste, styles fluctuate or people simply don’t have the same body type. One element that can be controlled, however, is ensuring the dress doesn’t deteriorate after many years of storage.
Clare Harris of Oceanside Cleaners specializes in wedding dress preservation. After Tyre decided she wanted to wear her mother’s gown, she took it there to have them help restore it.
Harris says the process of preservation involves an extremely thorough cleaning and packing using acid-free materials. This keeps the dress from not only deteriorating but yellowing over time from exposure to light and air.
“All contaminates are eliminated from the gown,” Harris says. “The dress is folded with a piece of tissue beneath each layer. and that ensures that it doesn’t touch itself.”
In this way, the dress can endure 25 to 30 years before it needs to be brought back in for replacement tissues.
Outside of storing the dress for sentimental value or hoping family reuses it, many people are opting to eventually repurpose their dresses in other ways. Harris says she has heard of people redesigning the gown into christening dresses, veils, pillows, quilts or even once, a Christmas tree skirt.
Part of Tyre hopes that one day her daughter will opt to wear the dress as she had done, and her mother before her. She doesn’t want to pressure her, however. She recognizes the dress is a choice the bride ultimately has to make. Nonetheless, Tyre has had her dress preserved for up to 150 years. Tyre knows the decision to wear it could present itself as it did to her — the moment she put it on.
“When we pulled it out, I really didn’t think it was going to fit,” she says. “But as soon as I put it on, it truly fit like a glove. The dress was beautiful, it really was. It seemed it was meant to be.”