Paris in July: Remembering my Wedding Dress on Our Anniversary, Which Is Tomorrow

About fifteen years ago my mother had a fabulous idea, and my father paid for it.
“Would you like to go to Paris,” she asked, “for your wedding dress?”
I was preparing for my second marriage in July of 2001. No June bride for me. No, I was a very hot July bride, but I was dressed in Parisienne style.
My mother and I flew directly from O’hare airport in Chicago to Charles DeGualle in Paris. It was our first time in Paris for neither of us; over the years we had become quite familiar with it, in trips we took together as a family, as well as the times we had gone independently. (When I taught in Germany, it was quite easy to go to Paris for the weekend.)
I had made an appointment with a young designer, but on an off chance we went to the Galleries Layfette to see what kinds of robes de mariage they had. And there we met the wonderful Sylvie.
Either I am not terribly particular, or she knew just the thing, for within about three try-ons we had the perfect dress. She studied me for a moment, and then she said, in English, “It needs a little somezing.” Off she went, and when she came back she was holding the most charming hat. I loved it at once.
When I tried on the whole ensemble, I felt quite pleased. And Sylvie said, “You look very beautiful. You just have ze need for…um…how do you say…a little micro-fibre.” Because while I am not fat, it’s true I had a bit of a tummy poking through this sample dress. I cannot think of a more charming way to be told. And my husband and I often laugh about it even now, thirteen years later. 
The shop was named Cymbaline, and they constructed for me a long skirt of no frills with a separate top that laced up the back. “You can wear zis separately, if you choose”, I was told by the ever practical French. Which I have on subsequent anniversaries.
My mother and I stayed at a wonderful hotel. It is called the Hotel Relais Saint Sulpice, chosen by my mother who is able to find the most perfect meal, the most perfect lodging, the most perfect opportunity anywhere she goes. 
And while we revisited the usual sights, such as the I. M. Pei before the Louvre, it is the streets which hold the most charm for both of us.
I wish the pictures of my photographs were clearer, but I hope they give you an indication of Paris during our stay. I hope they build in you a desire to go and see it for yourself. Because just as the authors highlighted in Paris Was Ours, or the way my mother said, “Let’s go,” it’s not as difficult to go there as it may seem.
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32 thoughts on “Paris in July: Remembering my Wedding Dress on Our Anniversary, Which Is Tomorrow”

  1. Such a gorgeous hat! I love it! So glad that you got to buy your wedding dress from Paris. I have never been to that city but it's on my bucket list.

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  2. Happy Anniversary! What a beautiful story and life memory. Wedding dresses carry so many significant messages and stories – having one from Paris would be just an awesome memory. Do you still have it? I'm always interested in what people do with their dresses after?

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  3. I love your Paris stories! And what a chic and stunning bride you were. I've never had the head for hats…I need a Sylvie (and incidentally a micro-fibre!)

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  4. Happy Anniversary! I loved your hat – it was fabulous!! And, thanks for sharing this lovely story of your trip to Paris with your mom – I am loving these personal Paris stories 🙂 You most definitely make me want to go to Paris with this story – Merci!

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  5. Well, the pictures were taken with film (rather than being digital) almost fifteen years ago, so I'm glad they served a purpose in providing some idea of the trip. Thank you for reading of the experience and extending your good wishes…en francais!

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  6. It was fortunate for us that the exchange on the dollar was very good at that time. Even our honeymoon to Switzerland and Italy was much more affordable than it would be today. Still, I hope you can go too, even for a weekend.

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  7. Ah Vicki, I'm always in search of the elusive “perfect”, and now at 53 have come to accept the little flaws as adding a bit of flavour. You should have seen how very hot our wedding day was! I remember standing over air conditioning vents to get a cool draft. 🙂

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  8. I do still have it, Tamara, hanging at the edge of my closet. The ivory shoes have yellowed with age, and I'm not sure if the dress would still lace, but the hat fits! 😉 I'm sure I'll keep the dress always. It is not frilly, or lacy, or beaded. It's quite simple and quite a happy memory.

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  9. It's funny when it comes to hats…my hair is quite thick, and when I was in high school I had to order an extra large graduation cap. It's a wonder the hat Sylvie brought out fit me! The shoes and the hat were something we could take home, while the dress was made and then shipped to the U. S. As for micro-fibre, always a good idea for dressing up! 🙂

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  10. Personal stories are my favorite to read on others' blogs. I get worried I might come across as self indulgent when I post these bits of my life,mbut perhaps they fit with the Paris theme and can be accepted. My mother is an incredible encourager for adventure. Nothing daunts her, or holds her back. I am convinced my life would have been much more drab without her influence and presence. Now we both long to go again and again! There can never be too many times one has seen Paris.

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  11. True! One cannot see Paris too many times 🙂 As for the story, which is so lovely and personal, I do have to say that it makes me think you feel comfortable enough to share it with your virtual family 🙂 I love reading them, but I myself cannot do it… Oh, Happy anniversary! I just wrote a post for tomorrow, Paris related, and I am sure you'll want to “watch” it 🙂

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  12. I'm glad you said that it's not as hard to go there as it seems. I'm starting an adventure jar like Ellie on the movie Up. I'm going to save up my money starting now. I've never been.

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  13. Happy Anniversary to you! and many thanks for sharing such a wonderful story. It's not at all self-indulgent, and if it were — so what? The little indulgences of life are what give it flavor and joy, and allowing us to share in yours is a very good thing.

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  14. Congrats on your wedding anniversary, Bellezza! And thanks for sharing these personal, Parisian memories. I'd love to revisit some day, and that will be a more thorough exploration. Thanks for joining the hosting team of Paris in July this year. Much appreciate this blogging event. Just posted my first entry. 😉

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  15. How romantic to come to Paris to buy your wedding dress. I love it! I actually did the opposite – I live in Paris but flew back home to St. Louis to buy my dress so I could shop with my mom and sister-in-law. I, too, found my dress after only three try-ons, but the shop was WAY less charming than your experience. Happy anniversary!

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  16. Some day I would love to see that wedding ensemble from the front! It's so beautiful in the back with the hat, too! And how I love the discreet suggestion of microfiber. I fear there aren't enough micros in the world to spin their fiber for anything that would pull me in quite enough!

    It's a remarkable and beautiful memory — how lovely of your father to pay and for you and your mum to enjoy this time together before your wedding.

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  17. A belated (yet heartfelt) Happy Anniversary to you, dear Bellezza! This is a lovely, lovely post and I adore your French wedding dress and hat! How wonderful of your mom to take you shopping in France. I would love to do the same for my daughter some day…

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  18. You were a beautiful bride, Bellezza. And your mother was a beautiful matron of honor. Your groom was the most handsome man. It was as if you had a fairy tale wedding.

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