“A Wedding dress is both intimate and personal for a woman–it must reflect the personality and style of the bride.”— Caroline Herrera
Lucille has long wavy brown hair that when loose, cascades down to her tailbone. Today she has it arranged in a long thick braid that swirls around her head. Baby’s breath adorn it and there is no denying that she looks ever so radiant in that hair style. Her face is powdered and she wears a little dab of blush on her cheeks and mascara on her eyelashes. She is pretty, to begin with, but today she looks ever so beautiful. It’s her wedding day.
“Lipstick later, after you’re in your dress because we don’t want it staining it accidentally,” says Nicca.
Six women stand in the room. It is the room that mom always keeps locked.
“Too many pins and needles that could pierce little fingers,” is all my mother would give us as an explanation. We were never allowed in there.
Today we stand at the door looking in. Next to Lucille stands the seamstress, Ms. Rose to everyone except us. Mother is there to help Lucille get into her wedding gown. I have seen my mother do this countless times before, but every time the admiration comes from new people so the whole experience feels different every time.
“What a beautiful piece of material this is,” my mother had said the day the mailman brought the box containing the white material. But mother said that about every piece of cloth she ever worked with. I have seen her hold all her pieces of material with reverence and then after that, seen how my mother’s beautiful eyes glow like beacons on a dark night at sea. That glow always made her face look younger. After that initial reaction, mother would never expose that beautiful material again in our presence until it was unveiled on a day like today.
The dress is laid on the floor with a crinoline arranged inside of it. Wearing only her stockings and undergarment, Lucille is made to stands on a low ladder. Two ladies hold her outstretched arms and from up there she slides the bottom half of her body smoothly into the skirt of the wedding gown.
“She looks like a mannequin there standing like that,” my sister whispers to me.
“I know,” I say. “I want to be a bride too someday,” we both giggle.
Mother proceeds to help Lucille with the sleeves, helping her insert one arm first and then the other in slow motion.
The embroidery on the sleeves and on the bodice, with the pearls and small beads in the shape of happy tears and the boat neckline that fits her perfectly, all these alluring points elicit compliments mingled with tears directed at the bride.
“Oh Lucy,” exclaims Lucille’s mother, “you look so beautiful in that dress. Good choice! Look at that everyone — what a beauty this daughter of mine is.”
“Yes, beautiful Lucille,” the others repeat. They can’t seem to come up with other words besides beautiful.
“She looks like Cinderella,” my sister and I agree, “just like a princess.”
My mother stands behind Lucille buttoning the long line of silk buttons. Pride swelling on her face as she hears the others complimenting the bride.
Someone kneels in front of Lucille and helps her to slide her feet into what seems to us like tiny glass slippers. Lucille looks down at her shoes and then straightens up. Her motions exactly like those of Cinderella in the movie. She looks at herself in the long mirror someone rolls in front of her and with her hands on her cheeks, tries to conceal her delight.
“No crying please,” warns Nicca, “that will ruin your makeup and it will stain the dress. No, no, no!”
But Lucille is not crying. She is happy. This is the day that she has been waiting for. She is on her way to marry the man that crawled into her heart a little at a time.
“Oh, happy day,” she says with a smile, and forcing her eyes off the mirror, she looks around the room. She finds my mother standing by the door and extends her hands out to her. My mother walks up to her and she and Lucille clasp hands.
“You look beautiful,” mother says to her.
“Oh, Ms. Rose thank you. The dress is even more beautiful than in the catalog. You are a real magician with those hands. Thank you.”
The wind is still as the beautiful bride walks out our storefront door. She has lipstick on her lips, a bouquet of lilies in her hand and a long tulle veil on her head. Escorted by her mother, Lucille walks the short distance from our house to the church. She walks erect, with a radiance emanating from her soul and she demurely acknowledges the well-wishes from the onlookers.
My mother holds our hands and walks us closer to the church. We see Lucille let go of her mother’s hand and clutch onto her father’s arm. The women who walked with her from our store disappear inside the church and then a procession of young women, all wearing clothes of the same color line up behind Lucille. The bride and her entourage disappear inside the church as the happy wedding bells toll loudly announcing the ceremony.