Elaine M.: From Dread to Dreamy

Elaine M.: From Dread to Dreamy

Mother of: Erin
Wedding venue: Cairnwood Estate in Bryn Athyn, Pennsylvania
Vibe: Black tie with old-world European flair
Dress: Marsoni by Colors from Claire’s Fashions in Wilmington, Delaware

The joy of her daughter Erin’s engagement to high school sweetheart Brad, who already seemed like a member of the family, gave way to dread.

“As a younger looking, plus size mother of the bride, I was dreading the shopping experience,” says Elaine. “I expected the dresses in my size range to be matronly. Worse yet, I expected that most shops would not have samples in my size to try and that I wouldn’t know how a dress would look on my size 18+ frame before I had to make a decision.”

Adding to the shopping stress: About 16 months before the wedding, Elaine was diagnosed with thyroid cancer and had to have half of her thyroid removed. “This made it extraordinarily difficult to lose weight prior to the wedding date. So all in all, I was feeling down about my appearance and the new scar on my neck.”

After several unsuccessful online purchases, Elaine’s sister, who is soon to be a mother of the groom, suggested Claire’s, a Delaware special occasion shop that’s been dressing brides, moms and wedding guests for more than 30 years. Not only did the shop feature an entire room of sample gowns, Elaine discovered that many of them were available in plus sizes.

“It felt wonderful to be able to see how a gown would actually look on my size frame,” Elaine says. She found a full Mikado silk ballgown in an icy blue that met all of her wishes: portrait neckline, off the shoulder (“to hide the thickest part of my arm”), with a beaded floral design across the fitted bodice to add a bit of sparkle and dimension.

“I was expecting to have to pay thousands to find a dress that was flattering, and I probably would have.” But this Marsoni gown of her MOB dreams was $500. She spent about as much in alterations, which Elaine says was totally worth it. “I felt the most beautiful I’ve felt in a long time.”

The May 2023 wedding took place at Cairnwood Estate, just outside of Philadelphia. The 1895 Beaux Arts style castle built by prominent Pennsylvania businessman John Pitcairn was turned into an event venue that offered just the sort of European flair Elaine knew her daughter envisioned for her wedding. It all came together.

Best of all, Elaine was cancer free in time for the wedding, as was her husband, who had been diagnosed with prostate cancer just the year before her bout with thyroid cancer. “To see it all come together with both of us looking pretty good for being cancer survivors made the day even more special than we could have imagined,” Elaine says. “We certainly had a different appreciation for life’s special occasions.”

| Photography by Barrie Anne Photography

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