Many of you may know that Sterling has chosen to wear her great grandmother's liberty satin (100+ year old) wedding dress. This dress was worn by Sterling's great grandmother (Mary Bess), grandmother (Flora, Mary Bess's daughter in law), and mother (Beck). Now before you think 'Oh, boy, it's gonna be full of moth holes!' let me tell you the story of the dress:

As a bishop in the Methodist Church, Sterling’s great great grandfather, William Anderson, was called upon for more than just preaching and overseeing church operations. The job also required ambassadorial work far afield. One time, he was sent all the way to Poland. Now, the details of the trip would only bore you, so we’ll move on. One of the great advantages to being a bishop is that you can take your wife with you, if the trip is not too dangerous. Danger can be a part of things, as would be the case when Bishop Anderson would be called upon to take a trip through sub-infested waters during WW 1. But during this trip, William and Lulah - or Pappy and Mammy – as we in the family know them, were able to travel together. So it was off to Poland with the bishop and his wife.

Mammy had many days during her husband’s meetings in which she could walk through the city and enjoy the sights. It was on one of these walks when she saw a bolt of liberty satin and the thought struck her that this lovely cloth would make perfect wedding dresses for her many daughters. As soon as William had come back from a hard day’s work, Mammy whisked him off to the shop – and - what could he say but ‘yes’? It was indeed, beautiful fabric and it took little imagination to see the dress that would grace any bride lucky enough to wear it. So they bought the entire bolt. It was up to Mammy to shepherd the fabric to its final end, and as her oldest daughter, Mary Bess, approached her wedding day in 1915, Love’s of Cincinnati fashioned the fabric into a Grecian style gown. The bodice of the dress crisscrosses the torso and is held in place at the back by a softly pleated cummerbund closure. There are deeply draped panniers at the sides. The dress culminates in a train. The sleeves are of antique lace.

So there we were, the three generations (Granny, Beck, and Sterling) rummaging through the old cedar chest in the dining room. Granny convinced us to take a look at Mary Bess's wedding dress from 1915 to see if I might like to wear it for my wedding. Mind you, throughout my entire life the cedar chest has been the 'table' upon which the coffee maker sat - so I was expecting a coffee-stained, moth-eaten, decomposing dress. And initially, my expectations were confirmed. There, at the bottom of the chest, was a pillow case and stuffed inside - the dress. It was completely wrinkled and stained yellow with age. The tulle bodice and sleeves were barely still attached to the rest of the dress and the lining was in pretty bad shape. "What a silly way to store a wedding dress" was my initial thought but, upon closer inspection - we realized that the 100+ year old satin was still in perfect condition! No holes, no tears, no stains… absolutely perfect! After about 20 trips to the magical and wonderful tailor, the amazing Ms. Kim, the dress is as good as new. A new tulle bodice and some old lace sleeves (yes, also found in the depths of the same cedar chest) were added in place of the decomposing tulle, and the lining and boning of the dress were expertly restored.

So a word of advice: forget those fancy chemical wedding dress cleaners - just stick the thing in a pillow case and you are good to go - well at least for the first hundred years.

Please click here to read about the veil that was also worn by Mary Bess.