"I Gave My Wedding Dress Away,"

Eileen Reid sang with a group called the Melody Makers in Dublin during the early sixties before joining the Cadets with whom she made the above hit record. She has continued to act, in films as well as on-stage. I last saw her portraying Imelda’s mother in Alan Parker’s The Commitments.

The song “I Gave My Wedding Dress Away” is very much in my head at the moment. You know how it is – you think of a line and you find you are singing it all day long!

Well now I will be able to say “I Gave My Wedding Dress Away” and mean it. For the past eighteen months I have worked on (When health allowed) a very special wedding dress. In fact I have always referred to it as ‘Elly’s Wedding Outfit’. That is because it was not really a dress at all. For most of her life my daughter REFUSED point blank to wear a dress! Jeans are her usual choice of apparel.

No way would I let her wear jeans walking up an aisle, no matter what building she chose for the wedding.

We did go out one day a lifetime ago or so it seems, so Elly could look at and try on dresses, even though she had already asked me to make her special outfit. I wanted her to be sure and not commit until she had tried several different styles.

There were one-pieces, two-pieces, meringues all frills and flounces, slinky little numbers and the more traditional with big skirts. She tried while I looked. My face sometimes told more than the mirror even if I was slow to comment. One she liked had a rather full skirt with mountains of underskirts to support it. I reminded her of how she disliked being restricted and she agreed that yes it would slow her down far too much. “Anyway Mum, your arms would not hack all that weight of material” she said. I think I was secretly relieved.

Since Elly’s Graduation outfit (which I made over ten years ago) really pleased her she hankered after a similar one for her wedding. I hunted out ideas and we settled on a boned bodice, trousers and a train. Detachable sleeves were also an option. We ditched the sleeves last month and the train unhooks for Dancing.

I set to work on the train as it would not be affected by a change in Elly’s weight. Next I did the sleeves and then the trousers. I left the waistband and hems semi-finished for the second fitting. The bodice was the last piece to be tackled as it was boned and the most difficult to alter.

All this was going on some 125 miles apart from each other. Each time we met her weight seemed static and her shape & measurements remained the same. I took a chance on it and went ahead with the boned bodice.

In February work decided to interfere with the calm steady arrangements. Work trips around the globe were suddenly arranged and Elly took off on her travels. Mammy sat calmly (on the outside) sewing away wondering when we were ever to have a fitting. I kept a stock of safety pins at the ready, after all Liz Hurley got away with it at the Oscars!

I travelled to Dublin for the Irish Blog Awards in March armed with Wedding outfit, sewing box, sheets to spread on the floor for the fitting etc.

Ha, ha, ha! Serves you right mother! Elly lost a little weight. Where? Up top of course, so the alterations started. I still had time… 23rd June was a couple of months away.

Elly arranged to come up on 10th June for the final fitting but the car objected and gave up on her north of Drogheda. The car was sorted and she finally managed to take time away from work on Friday 15th June. We had a good six or seven hour’s together but:

Whaaaa! More alterations were needed. Beading had to be removed to do them properly. I managed to do the crucial ones while Elly was with me and that left four days to get it all finished.

All that work just to ‘Gift Wrap’ the most precious treasure I have before willingly and lovingly entrusting her to George.

George all I ask is that you mind her, love her and may you both live long and happy lives together.

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8 thoughts on “"I Gave My Wedding Dress Away,"

  1. Thanks you again, and I will look after, care for and love her with all my heart.

  2. Oh GM, this post touched my heart, all the love expressed in the making and unmaking of this most memorable dress, and I do hope you post a picture of it here!!Your daughter is so loved.

  3. What a treasure you have just made for Elly. She is a very lucky lady to have a mother with this kind of talent. I think it’s pretty rare these days to have someone handmake a wedding dress. My very best to Elly and George…love, health and happiness always.

  4. I kept a stock of safety pins at the ready, after all Liz Hurley got away with it at the Oscars!Class! That’ll keep me giggling for days.

  5. I’ll start again. As I said on Elly’s blog – the outfit is wonderful. You must be very proud to have created such an original wedding outfit.

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