I never thought I’d wear my mother’s wedding dress. And not just because it was made in 1980, back when “prairie” style clothing was a thing (think poofy sleeves and long night-gown-esque skirts). It also wasn’t because my mother was a toothpick, and I got this fetching, broad-shouldered build from my dad (thanks, Pops).

Mostly, I just never thought of it. But when I decided I wanted a short dress and knew my store-bought options would be limited, my sweet mom offered up her vintage gown. And I realized it would be special not only because it was my mother’s, but because her mother made the dress by hand. I loved the idea of having a little part of my Mammaw, who passed away when I was in high school, there with me on my wedding day.

Here’s the problem: Remember the aforementioned teensy-tiny mom? Yeah, well it’s no exaggeration to say that when I tried on her dress, there was at least a 5-inch gap in the back where the zipper didn’t meet. Plus, the darts were about two inches too high and my arms were barely squeezing into the tiny armholes.

I needed a miracle worker, not a seamstress. And through luck, I found one! It’s not easy to find a skilled dress-maker these days, but a coworker suggested I talk to one of her friends, a talented seamstress named Jennifer Roberts. (Email me at BTidwell@ABPG.com if you’d like her contact information.)

Jennifer was brilliant and made the entire process a breeze. I completely trusted her to deconstruct my mother’s wedding dress. She was always careful to keep the original integrity of my grandmother’s work, and creative with solutions to make the dress fit me and my style. She harvested a few lone pieces of extra lace at the bottom of the dress to give me room around the middle and in the bust. Then, we took off the original lace cuffs on the sleeves, and de-puffed them to fit snugly around my arms. Finally, she chopped the skirt to tea-length, and added a new lace “belt” and dotted mesh skirt overlay.

I visited her house maybe half a dozen times and the whole process took about a month. I was absolutely amazed at the dress’ transformation every single time I went back!

Then, of course, there came the accessorizing, which Zach and I both enjoyed. Check out the slideshow above to see where I found my jewelry, hairpiece, shoes and more. 

Here’s my other confession this week: Party planning is hard, you guys! While Zach and I did decide to have a small, private ceremony, we’ve also been plotting to host a wedding celebration for the rest of our friends and family in the spring. And seriously, it’s taking over all of my free time. I’ll be sharing more about that process in the weeks to come. See you next time!

Newlywed Blair Tidwell, a Malvern native and NYU journalism graduate, is the managing editor of Little Rock Family magazine. She'll be blogging about her adventures in wedding planning for Arkansas Bride right here, each week. She welcomes your comments below or via email at BTidwell@ABPG.com