Anna + Chris: One Dress, Three Generations

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Anna + Chris: One Dress, Three Generations

Story by Anna Barth | 2021 Photos by PHOCO

Heirloom wedding dress

There was one person I knew I always had wanted at my wedding: my “Nanny.” I had an incredible bond with her my entire life and she was the strongest woman I knew. She battled cancer for many years, but unfortunately, we had to say our goodbyes in November 2018 – well before I was even engaged to be married. -Anna

Heirloom Wedding Dress

On the day before she passed away, she was in and out of sleep. But, I was able to slip on her wedding dress to visit her bedside and had her promise me she’d be there on my wedding day. I knew from that day on, I couldn’t imagine any other wedding dress being more special.

Heirloom wedding dress, first worn in 1957 by my grandmother, Nancy Dickinson marrying Thomas McComb.

Heirloom wedding dress, second worn by my mom, Molly McComb, in 1984 when marrying my dad, Karl Skold, in Fort Collins, Colorado.

With alterations by Denver-based Donna Beth Creations, I wore this 3rd generation dress as I wed the love of my life in
Castle Rock, Colorado.

Heirloom Wedding Dress

TCWM: How did it feel to be putting on that dress the morning of the big day? 

Anna: It was absolutely surreal. I didn’t tell any of my bridesmaids about my dress until the morning of the wedding. While we were all sitting around eating breakfast, and the first girls were getting their hair and makeup done, I gave a speech about each girl and how much they meant to me. I then spoke about my Mom, who was also there, on the impact she had on my life and thanked her for all of her continuous love and support throughout the wedding planning process. I wrapped up my speech by noting how there was one very important person missing. My Nanny. Everyone in the room knew how important my Nanny was to me, but I just reiterated what a special person she was and the influence she had in my life. I had always dreamed of having her with me on my wedding day. Safe to say there was not a dry eye in the room (not even the hair and makeup artist!). I then took out three picture frames and explained my dress to everyone. One picture was of Nanny in the dress, one was of my Mom in the dress and the third was of me showing Nanny the dress on me the day before she passed away. It was such an emotional morning, one that I will cherish forever.

Heirloom Wedding Dress
Commotion for the dress!
Heirloom Wedding Dress

After my hair and makeup was done, I put on the dress in a separate room with only my Mom. We laughed, we cried, we told stories, we held hands, we had our special time together before the day truly began. While I had done fittings for the year leading up the the wedding, this was really the first time I got to see it on with all of its final touches and it being perfectly steamed. It was even better than I remembered. I felt like I was in a fairytale. This dress was just the start to two incredible marriages, for my Mom and Nanny, both full of love, laughter, adventure, family and Faith, and I truly felt honored to have it on.

TCWM: Are you preserving the dress for a potential 4th generation marriage? 

Anna: Yes, we are! We got it professionally dry cleaned, purchased a preservation storage box and tissue paper, and hired a good family friend to professionally preserve it. I always appreciated that I never had pressure to wear it on my wedding day and I will continue to stand by that. However, to have that even be an option for a future generation is truly magical!

TCWM: Can you describe the accessories and/or adornments you chose to go with the dress (vail, bouquet, jewelry, shoes, etc) and why you chose them? 

I kept jewelry simple and traditional. The only jewelry I wore (aside from my rings of course) was drop pearl earrings that I picked out with my Mom. Since I am tall, Donna added lace to the bottom of the dress rim to give it extra length. She ordered lace for my dress from Italy, which felt special as I had spent a summer in Italy during college and absolutely fell in love with the country. It was actually the last summer before I met my now husband, Chris! My veil also had the same Italian lace to match the base of my dress.

I loved the bouquet my florist, Olive and Poppy, created for me. It was even better than I could have even imagined! It was very soft and earthy, with ivory as the primary color with hints of dusty blue and sage green – which were my two wedding colors. My jaw hit the floor when I saw it for the first time at the church!

Olive and Poppy

Shoes were ivory flats with a strap around the ankle, with rhinestones on the rim.

When all of the formal traditions were completed (i.e. first dance, speeches, etc.), I switched into a party dress for the remainder of the night that I had purchased from BHLDN. I paired it with white Sam Edelman tennis shoes and a denim jacket with white pearls attached to the back. It felt so good to switch into a shorter, lighter dress after wearing the gown all day! I also did this to help protect the wedding dress to avoid any stains or rips on the dance floor and at the after-party.

TCWM: Is there a story about how your grandmother acquired the dress or who designed it? 

Anna: That still remains a mystery! We are trying to go back and read old letters my Nanny wrote when she was a young woman to try and figure it out. We think that she and her mom either purchased it in Iowa (where my Nanny grew up), drove to Denver to purchase it, or bought it in New York City on a special Mother/Daughter trip.

TCWM: Was there any point where you maybe thought about looking at other dresses…or was this a hard and fast decision for you throughout wedding planning? 

Anna: When I got engaged I truly had no idea whether I was going to go wedding dress shopping or wear the dress. In fact, my Mom had said that we could do both for fun and that I should choose whatever I felt most beautiful and special in. I felt no pressure either way. During this same time frame I had gone wedding dress shopping with a good girlfriend who was also engaged. Through this experience I got to know all the different styles, designers and options available, and yet I still had no clue what I desired for myself. A few weeks later, we took the dress into Donna Beth Creations to see if the dress was even one we could work with in the first place, and understand what my options were to alter it. This was just a fun “girl’s day” with my Mom and technically my first “wedding dress” focused day.

Heirloom Wedding Dress
Anna’s heirloom wedding dress before alterations

When I put it on for Donna I started to break down and cry. I said “this was the dress.” It fit so perfectly, better than I even remembered when I put it on for Nanny, and I knew no other dress would ever be this special. Donna was also very impressed with the fabric quality and made me feel encouraged with the options we had to alter the dress for me.

So I didn’t end up doing any other wedding dress shopping. My heart knew what it wanted.

TCWM: Were there any other sentimental family items you were able to include into the ceremony that day (photos, jewelry, etc)? 

Anna: Yes, we added a ton of sentimental touches throughout the day. A few highlights include:  

My engagement ring has a tiny diamond on the inside of the band that came from my Nanny’s wedding ring. My husband designed it this way so the diamond is always touching me. We also bought our wedding bands from the same exact jeweler my parents bought theirs at a local shop in Old Town Fort Collins, and where Nanny shopped for fine jewelry in her younger years.

Our wedding invitations used the exact same wording that my parents used for their wedding invitations 37 years ago.

The table “numbers” were actually all named after all of the nicknames my dad had for me growing up. Yes, I had over 20 nicknames! For example, we had Table Dolly, Table Pris, Table Buttercup, Table Dorothy, Table Veronica, Table Tiffany, the list goes on! This was a special touch for my dad and really helped incorporate our close bond into the day.

I didn’t tell anyone about the dress and so we included a blurb about it in the wedding ceremony bulletin. That way everyone would know as I walked down the aisle and share that special moment with me.

The priest who married us was my husband’s priest from this home town in North Carolina. He grew up with this priest and it truly made all of the difference to have such a special person officiate our wedding. He also gave the final blessing to my husband’s Grandpa when he passed away earlier this year. Chris (my husband) was extremely close with his Grandpa too – which was something we bonded over early on in our relationship. The priest said a prayer during the ceremony that Grandpa had always said, which made Grandpa feel present with us as well.

At the reception we had a memory table that had pictures of those who couldn’t be with us for our wedding day, including Nanny and Chris’s Grandpa.

TCWM: If there was only one word you could use to describe your grandmother…what would that one word be? 

Anna: I think of so many words when I think of my Nanny. I think about her strength and all that she endured in her life. I think about her generosity and how she always put others first. I think about how family-oriented she was and spent her life coming to endless sporting events, recitals, graduations, family dinners, holidays, and everything in between. But if I had to narrow it to one word, I would say that my Nanny is “love.”

Heirloom Wedding Dress
Shared in loving memory of Nancy McComb.

Ceremony | St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church
Reception | Crooked Willow Farm
Photographer | PHOCO
Alterations | Donna Beth Creations

Florist | Olive and Poppy

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Colorado,colorado photographer,colorado weddings,Marriage,sustainable weddings,Wedding Dress,wedding inspiration
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