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Gifting an Heirloom Gown to Someone Who May Not Want It

Everyone loves gifts, right? Maybe not: when it comes to brides, make sure you’re respecting her wishes (and style)

What worked for one bride may not work for another

Weddings are always about traditions. It’s often wonderful to see how impending weddings bring out the “need” to touch base with our past and the memories it carries. Because emotions are high at such times, it’s especially easy to hurt feelings. A little extra thought and planning go a long way to keep that from happening.

Dear Wedding Guru:
“My friend wants me to help her come up with an idea to ‘present’ her mother’s wedding gown to her future daughter-in-law in a special way. Assuming the future bride is in favor of wearing the gown, do you have any special ideas as to how she can give the gown to her in a memorable way?”

The Wedding Guru says:
I would absolutely not “spring” the gown on the daughter-in-law — you do not want to put her in a position where she hates it and has to turn it down while her future mother-in-law is there with her. I would first determine if the bride would consider wearing an heirloom gown in the first place. If there are photos of the mother-in-law in the gown that the bride can look at, that would be even better.

Assuming that the bride agrees to consider the gown — and the mother-in-law is okay with this — I would set a date for them to meet. Place three cards into three envelopes marked #1, #2, and #3.
Number 1 would read: “Try it on and if it fits and you love it, it’s yours to wear.” 
Number 2 would read: “Try it on and if you love it, but it needs alterations, [mother-in-law] will pay for those and the gown is yours to wear.” 
Number 3 would read: “If you try it on and don’t like it, alterations or not, it’s no problem! Just say so and it will be okay.”

The bride can open the cards before she tries on the dress. Hopefully this will be fun for all and forestall any problems.

Got more questions? Write to me at!

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About This Blog

Tying the knot shouldn't put knots in your stomach, so whether you're the blushing bride, hubby-to-be, or even a wedding guest, The Wedding Guru Judy Lewis can answer all of your wedding-related questions.

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