Heather says she kept UPS busy last spring, delivering more than 50 dresses to her doorstep as she searched for one that would look “elegant, without looking like a mother of the groom dress” for her son Jake’s outdoor summer wedding.
“My husband commented on the Visa bill–I had to remind him I was returning them.”
All but one, that is.
Jake and his bride Annika requested that their moms wear navy to accent lighter blues worn by the bridesmaids and groomsmen. Heather found her “perfect” navy dress after eliminating many of the looks she thought she wanted. First, there was satin. “I love the look of it, but that’s not a forgiving fabric—especially in the heat.” Second: taffeta shirt ball gowns. “I love the look of them, especially the pockets, but they don’t look good on me.”
She broadened her search and fell in love with a Betsy & Adam column dress that wasn’t at all what she thought she wanted: covered in sequins and one shoulder which meant a dreaded strapless bra. “I didn’t want to be tugging at it all night,” says Heather, who found a Victoria’s Secret bra with removable straps that allowed her to keep one on. “it worked perfectly,” she says.
Dress chosen, Heather could turn her attention to the bride and groom and their big day. Jake and Annika met online and immediately bonded over their shared allegiance to the University of Minnesota—Annika was a college cheerleader; Jake, a diehard Gopher fan. Their “save the date” card included a photo of the couple that encapsulates the spirit of their relationship: decked out in college sweatshirts, on a boat, toasting their love with a Busch beer. The message to family and friends on the postcard: “See you on the dance floor!”
It was a welcome celebration for the family, following a few rough years. “We lost our only daughter, Kali, in 2020 from an unknown genetic condition, so the last few years have been hard,” Heather says. “I was looking forward to Jake’s wedding while also feeling concerned that I would not hold it together.”
But Kali's presence was felt at the wedding. Heather’s husband, Ray, and their sons wore pictures of Kali on the backside of their ties; the groom had a pin with his late sister's photo inside his suit coat. The groomsmen carried a bouquet for Kali down the aisle and set it on a chair that said, "Reserved for the sister of the groom and bridesmaid who is raising a glass to us from Heaven."
“I loved just being with family and friends, having a good time dancing and celebrating the couple starting a life together," Heather says. "My favorite photos are less formal because those are my memories of the day.”
| Photography by Meara Grace Photo