Brenda always assumed she’d sew a dress to wear to her daughter Lauren’s wedding. “I’ve sewn since I was 8 years old,” she says. But for once, Lauren wanted her mom to pamper herself. So they planned a special day of shopping in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, where Lauren and her groom, Peter, live. Their wedding took place just outside of Austin at Mae’s Ridge, a modern barn with white shiplap walls and Hill Country views. The invitation called for cocktail attire.
“My daughter has a great eye when it comes to shopping,” Brenda says. “She filled the dressing room with a variety of possibilities—I enjoyed the day so much.” Unlike the bride’s sisters, who ordered their dresses online, Brenda says, “I needed the tactile experience of feeling the fabric, trying on an actual dress, and getting input from someone I trusted.”
Brenda knew what she didn’t want. “I’ve never felt comfortable in anything sleeveless,” she says. She also steers clear of anything too fitted. “A column gown, while flattering, just wasn’t ‘me.’”
The dress she fell for did have sheer, three-quarter length, but wasn’t anything she expected. Gray, with a v-neck bodice covered in beading, and a floor length, A-line, chiffon layered skirt.
"Lauren assured me the dress wouldn't be over the top in Texas,” says Brenda, who lives in Minnesota. “This dress just said, ‘let’s have fun!’”
They tried a few other stores to be sure the gray dress really was the one, but nothing else compared. Brenda ordered the gown from Xandy’s Bridal House in Anoka, Minn. It fit her off the rack with just a few minor alterations, which she did complete herself.
Lauren's father suffers from a degenerative muscle and nerve disorder called Kennedy's Disease. It make walking and talking a challenge, so Brenda escorted their daughter most of the way down the aisle alone, and her husband, who was seated toward the front, joined them for the last few steps. Brenda also knew she’d be the parent to make a toast at the wedding, a responsibility she fretted about leading up to the big day—“I am not a public speaker,” she says. “I freeze up and my voice trembles.” In an attempt to calm her nerves, she wrote out a long speech in advance, filled with stories about Lauren’s childhood, about Peter’s virtues. “You’ve heard those speeches,” Brenda jokes.
But once she got rolling, Brenda tossed the speech. “I spoke from my heart,” she says. “It was a proud moment.”
| Photography by Christina Carroll Photography