Weddings are days filled with laughter, gooey-frosting cakes, life-changing vows …. and beautiful dresses.

Back in the 70s, my dad officiated at a rather large wedding with many detailed plans, many attendants and many guests.

The bride, wanting her big day to be unique and memorable, asked an experienced seamstress to design and make the bridesmaid’s dresses. This lady had literally been making bridesmaid dresses for half a century – if not more. She was in her late eighties.

Many of the attendants lived out of town, so the final fitting was done after the rehearsal dinner. All the dresses fit beautifully – except for one girl’s.

“No problem!” said the experienced seamstress. “I’ll fix it tonight and have it here by the time the wedding starts tomorrow.”

OK. That’s what would happen.

The next day, however, the experienced seamstress did not show up. The guests were in their seats, my dad was ready, the organ was playing, the bride was ready to walk down the aisle – no dress.

They waited. They frantically called the experienced seamstress’ house – no answer. The organist once again played her prelude.

Sill no dress.

After the organist went through the prelude a third time – the bride had an idea. This was back in the day when “granny dresses” were in style. Granny dresses had high necks and long skirts and were worn everywhere by stylish ladies. You would often see several of them in church – and at a wedding. So the attendants looked over the guests to find someone they knew wearing a granny dress in the same color as the dressless bridesmaid. The guest quickly changed into the jeans and t-shirt of the bridesmaid and her dress became part of the wedding.

The couple got married.

Meanwhile, on the south side of Chicago, the experienced seamstress completed the dress and with her husband started the trip up the Dan Ryan Expressway to the Kennedy. (For those of you who don’t live in Chicago – these are two massively, busy expressways that go through the heart of the city.) They had just reached the part of the Dan Ryan that went through some ummm … rough neighborhoods when the car gave a sputter and a clunk and died.

They pulled over and waited for help. None came.

“I’ve got to get to that wedding,” the experienced seamstress said. “I can’t let the bride down now.”

She got out of the car with the dress and started walking along the Dan Ryan expressway attempting to hitch a ride to the northwest suburbs.

Remember, she was in her late eighties.

An Hispanic family who could not speak much English stopped and she did the best she could to explain the situation. They told her to get in the car and off they went.

Somehow, they eventually made it to the church – in time for the reception. And the bridesmaid was also able to wear her REAL dress in the pictures.

As the lady finally was able to sit down and enjoy the dinner – my dad asked her how long she had been making wedding dresses.

“I don’t know,” she said, “but I can tell you for sure THIS is my last time.”

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