Mother of: Anastacia
Wedding locale: Holland, Michigan
Vibe: Pure joy
Dress: R&M Richards from Macy’s
“I rarely wear dresses—like, once every few years,” says Nancy. “As an older mother of the bride, I was also conscious of wanting to look special, but also be ‘appropriate,’ as ridiculous as that might sound. Stacy is my daughter, but she’s also my biggest supporter. She had no preconceived notions of what she wanted me to look like for her own wedding—she just wanted me to be part of her big day and to feel good doing it. I’m not sure I could have put myself out there—wearing a sequined, shiny dress—without her encouragement.”
The bride, who lives in Chicago, came home to suburban Detroit the summer before the wedding to take her mom shopping. “She helped me put aside my own self-consciousness because she was so joyful. That got me super excited about having a genuinely special dress for her wedding.” Nancy initially planned to wear flats, but the high-low ruffled hemline of her R&M Richards dress pushed her out of that comfort zone on shoes as well. “I found sparkly silver ones with a small heel,” Nancy says. “I actually called Stacy from the mall to tell her about them, and how I wasn’t sure…she urged me to go back and buy them.”
The wedding took place on a beautiful fall day in October, 2022. The bride and groom chose to split the difference between their hometowns of Detroit and Chicago, and married in Holland, Michigan. “I felt totally comfortable,” Nancy says. “In the end, the dress, the shoes, felt right and helped show me as I felt that day, which was ecstatically happy for Stacy and Ryan.”
The wedding was not only a celebration of love, but of triumph over the gravest of odds. Ryan was diagnosed with testicular cancer months before he proposed to Anastacia in the spring of 2021. He was 30; she was 27. “It happened very quickly—it was scary and harrowing and rocked both their worlds,” Nancy says. But doctors were confident they had removed the cancer. The newly engaged couple celebrated being cancer-free with an epic road trip to several national parks. They started wedding planning as soon as they returned.
The planning was soon disrupted. Ryan’s cancer resurfaced and doctors started him on an aggressive chemotherapy regimen. “It was absolutely brutal. Ryan spent every third week getting treatments, hooked to IVs for six to eight hours a day for five days straight, then spent two weeks recovering from the poison being pumped into him.” He finished the treatment right before Thanksgiving of 2021 and because he had no immunity—in the midst of a global pandemic, no less—Ryan and Anastacia had to isolate throughout the holidays.
Nancy rented an Airbnb in Chicago to be near them. She made meals, ran errands, took care of the couple’s two dogs. When Ryan slept, she kept her daughter company and gave her a shoulder to cry on. “The two of them were mighty warriors against a horrible monster,” Nancy says. “I watched them go through hell for months—Ryan barely able to eat, his body rebelling in so many ways; Stacy trying to be strong while dealing with her own fears. Both of them having to confront the concept of death when they were just starting to plan their lives together. It was horrible.”
By early 2022, Ryan began to regain his strength and immunity. His hair grew back. He and Anastacia resumed planning their wedding. The celebration of their union turned into a celebration of life as well.
In the scheme of things, selecting a mother of the bride dress felt unimportant to Nancy. But with the encouragement of her daughter, it took on deeper significance. “The sequins glistening in the light was that life and love that shine so bright when two people start a life together knowing they have each other’s back as they look forward to whatever life throws their way. And my being part of that, in all my sequined glory, felt like a true celebration of their love.”
Shop one of our current favorite R&M Richards dresses.
| Photography by Lilac & Mane