29: The Second Dress

29: The Second Dress

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Here Comes the Bride

The Second Dress

A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person.

~Mignon McLaughlin

My friend, Pam, and her business partner, Kim, were wedding planner consultants. They had coordinated some of the most beautiful weddings I had ever seen. Quite often, Pam and I would talk about upcoming weddings, colors, and her special clients. All of them were unique. I can clearly recall back to 1996 when Pam asked me to go with her to a few bridal shops to look for a gown. For some reason, the bride — one of Pam’s newest clients — was out of town and did not have time to shop for a wedding dress that particular weekend. Pam told me that I was the same size as the bride-to-be, so she wanted me to go with her to try on dresses. “How fun!” I thought.

So off we went to Cincinnati, Ohio, to look for wedding dresses. When we arrived, Pam and I began to look at some of the most beautiful gowns. After trying on several dresses, we concluded that the cream-colored, fully beaded dress with a sweetheart neckline was the prettiest gown of all. The fit and style seemed to be just right according to Pam. It did not take long — this would be the recommended gown. Pam asked the store assistant to put it on hold, and then we left the store.

While riding home, I asked, “Why would a lady not have time to shop for her own wedding dress?”

Pam laughed and said, “She is just one of those women who will pay for other people to take care of her personal matters. But, in my mind, that is just too personal to relinquish to someone else.”

Fast forward a year later. My husband and I had planned a vacation get-a-way that I was really looking forward to. My girlfriend, Dawn, knew that we were leaving in a few days so she offered to give me a pedicure. I accepted her kind offer because she was really good. It wasn’t something that I had planned — I was ready to go!

The weekend arrived, and it was time. Morton, my husband of almost ten years, told me that we needed to go by the church before we left. That was typical because we are very involved in church ministries. When we arrived at the church, I saw my cousin coming out the back door. I thought, “She’s not a member. What is she doing here?” We spoke briefly, and then she rushed off. Then Marty, a family friend and Pam’s husband, came out of the church door and said, “Tonya, I need for you to go downstairs and see someone.”

I looked for Morton as I proceeded downstairs, but he wasn’t around. Then I walked into the church choir room. All of a sudden, people came out from the shadows and shouted, “Surprise!” I was stunned! Some of them were family members and friends. Then I spotted my cousin from Dallas, Texas, and I started to cry. “What is going on?”

Marty brought Morton into the room, and everyone was crying and laughing. And then Morton looked deeply into my eyes and said, “It’s been ten years, Tonya. Would you marry me — again?”

Then Pam walked out with a wedding gown in her hand and hung it up for display. I cried, “YES! And that’s the dress!” I glanced over at my mom and saw her looking at me with so much love and pride. She appeared speechless. More people walked into the room, and I realized it had turned into a bridal shower! Cameras were flashing, gifts were appearing, and people were hugging.

Pam said, “Okay, we have forty-five minutes for the shower, and then everyone must get dressed. Your wedding is in an hour!”

Later, Pam told me that it had all begun the previous summer when we were at Kings Island Amusement Park. While Marty and I were riding a roller coaster, Morton told Pam that he wanted to do something different for our tenth wedding anniversary. Since Pam was a wedding consultant, she agreed to help him. Many people became involved, and it seemed that everyone knew about this wedding except for me.

The shower was finally over. Out came the shoes, my veil, garter, hosiery, undergarments, jewelry, bouquets — everything! I was amazed. Within a few minutes, I was a bride again. I walked out the door, and my uncle Spunky greeted me. He was ready to walk me down the aisle and give me away — again! All of my bridesmaids and even a few new ones were all lined up and looking lovely. The colors were cream, gold, and black. Just dazzling!

The doors to the sanctuary opened to reveal a church filled with guests. Music was playing. My eyes were so full of tears that I could barely recognize the guests. As I made it down the aisle and stood with Morton, I looked out into the pews and zoomed in on my aunt from Dallas, Texas. There went the tears again… I didn’t know that she was in town. Our friends from Virginia were in town as well. I think more men were amazed that Morton had pulled this off.

After the wedding, there was a wonderful reception with the most beautiful cake and décor. Ms. Shirley — a great friend and a wonderful cook — was the caterer. We ate and danced the night away. A day later, we drove to Suffolk, Virginia, with our friends. It was a beautiful time that I’ll never forget. We now celebrate two anniversaries, and I have two wedding gowns.

~LaTonya Branham

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