Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

The bride wore a white silk organza gown August 17, 2012

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A newspaper account of my aunt and uncle’s wedding 50 years ago is tacked onto a tree at their recent anniversary party.

The bride was escorted to the altar by her father. Her gown of white silk organza with chapel train had a row of satin bows down one side of the skirt. Her veil was attached to a small pearl crown and she carried a bouquet of white roses, pompons and a large aster with ivy.

Her attendants were attired in green faille dresses with attached overskirts and carried cascade arrangements of yellow pompons.

Fifty years have passed since that description from my godmother’s wedding published in The Redwood Falls Gazette. Lovely, isn’t it? Silk and satin and cascading bouquets.

A bridal party photo from Aunt Rae and Uncle Bob’s August 18, 1962, wedding. I’m the flower girl.

I wish I remembered that day, even a moment of it. But I don’t. I was only five, almost six, when my Aunt Rachel married Robert, who would become my Uncle Bob. A black-and-white photograph from August 18, 1962, clearly shows me in my short, pouffy flower girl dress, positioned in front of the groomsmen. I stood all prim and proper, and I assume well-behaved, in my shiny white patent leather shoes and lace-trimmed anklets. My white-gloved hands clench a starched, be-ribboned crocheted lace basket of fresh flowers.

If only I remembered the bespectacled girl who a year earlier wore a patch across her wandering lazy eye and later underwent surgery to correct her vision. But I don’t. Not even the flower girl dress, which my mom saved for 50 years, evokes any memories.

My flower girl dress, minus the petticoats, was hung in the screened porch during the anniversary party.

All of that aside, I thought my Aunt Rae would appreciate seeing the flower girl dress at a recent gathering in south Minneapolis to celebrate her and Uncle Bob’s 50th wedding anniversary. She did, barely believing I still had the dress. Surely she knows her oldest sister, my mom, saves everything, doesn’t she?

But did my aunt save her beautiful white silk organza bridal gown? Much to my dismay and that of a young woman whose middle name is Rachel, no. Rae gave her wedding dress to charity before moving from Minneapolis to her retirement home in Arkansas. I won’t explain the reasons, but suffice to say they are legitimate.

That leads me to wonder, how many of you married women out there still have your wedding dresses? My $80 off-the-rack dress hangs in the back of my bedroom closet. I possess no illusions that either of my daughters will ever want to wear it and that’s just fine by me.

Justin (my cousin) and Amy’s daughter Alison passed around chocolates during the anniversary celebration.

But give it another 20-plus years, and perhaps a family member will read this description of my bridal gown and ask, “Do you still have your wedding dress?”

The bride’s gown was of old fashioned style with stand-up collar, lace ruffling forming a V front neckline, long sheer sleeves and flounce skirt with lace trim. Her veil was held in place by a laurel wreath headpiece of yellow sweetheart roses and baby’s breath.

My beloved Aunt Rachel visits with guests.

Family and friends of Rae and Bob gathered in their daughter’s south Minneapolis backyard on a recent steamy Sunday for a picnic dinner to celebrate 50 years of marriage.

That’s my Uncle Bob, in the middle in the dark shirt, visiting with friends.

© Copyright 2012 Audrey Kletscher Helbling