The business was slow, and I had been thinking “what if this doesn’t work?” Granted, I had only been open for 1.5 months, but with my lofty goal of selling 100 dresses in the month of January, you can imagine my subtle worry as each day came and went.
I received a call late Wednesday night, just before the shop was about to close for the day. The call was from a woman who was looking to plan a styling appointment for a friend who was 30 years old and had no intention of buying a dress. At first thought, I was disappointed. Thoughts raced through my mind like words on a teleprompter, I was deeply financially invested in the shop and needed to start seeing some activity. “Was it selfish of me to think about more time invested without revenue? Maybe this is just one of those times that the reward was greater that any dollar amount?”
After a long silence, I heard her take a deep breath and then she shared with me that this woman’s mother had four months to live and her dying wish was to see her daughter try on wedding gowns before she passed. My heart swelled as I was flooded with memories of the longing I felt to have my mother at my wedding a year ago and to be with me right there in that moment. She had passed away in 2016 and the emotions were still fresh, as if it was yesterday.
I was so eager to make this event happen and was more than ready to open our doors and allow the masses in to grant this woman’s dying wish. But then the caller informed me that it had to be at 1 p.m. on the following Saturday. We had signed up for a fashion show in Snohomish and there was just no way that I was going to be able to make that work. I then asked to call her back, to see if I could possibly find someone to open the shop for me. After several dead ends, I called her back with a counteroffer of 6 p.m. on Saturday after our fashion show. About a half hour later, she replied to me with a “Yes” and endless thank yous of appreciation.
Saturday was a big day, filled with wonderful connections with other vendors and especially excited brides asking about their favorite dresses that were featured in the show. We filled up multiple weekends of future appointments and I was hyperfocused on the short amount of time I would have to break down the show and jet back to the shop for the private fitting.
I returned with an hour to spare and quickly re-dressed the mannequins and tidied up the place in preparation for the unexpected. A long black stretch limo then pulled up and everyone jumped out, dressed in their best wedding attire, corsages on their shoulders and beautiful smiles across their faces. They then reached into the limo to help a beautifully dressed but terribly frail woman, her hair thin and short from chemo. My heart skipped a beat as I ran to the door to hold it open for the ladies who were carrying her in.
This was bigger than I expected, a deeper love than I anticipated but the memory of what it was like to be with my own mother in her last days was right at the surface.
I expected a space full of tears and loss but was overwhelmed with the joy that flooded into my shop like a wild coastal wind. They sat the women in the first chair of our sitting area, and I introduced myself.
The night was full of smiles and laughter, memories shared from corner to corner of the room. The friends and guests of the family were taking turns picking dresses. A ball gown, then a sheer fit, then an A-line, then a fit and flair! Each gown rang in a bigger “WOW” than the last! The moments that followed were equally unexpected as all 18 dresses that were put on the bride fit her as if they were designed just for her body. We were all overwhelmed by what we saw, an “un-bride” beaming from ear to ear as if she was really planning for her day. Her mother’s eyes were shining with pride and awe as her daughter floated around the shop, every bead and sequin twinkling, every layer of tulle and lace trailing behind her.
When the night was coming to a close, I offered to take a group photo with their cell phones. They were all so happy as the ladies from different generations snuggled in together for their photo. At the last minute, they invited me in for one last snapshot as if I was now part of the family.
Just then, the limo returned, and everyone began to pack up their belongings and hold tight the memory of the evening shared. We all carefully loaded the trunk with purses, appetizer trays and coats before we assisted the mother into the limo.
We exchanged hugs and I waved good-bye. I never thought that this shop would attract so much love and joy as I felt in that moment.
I later received this message:
“Here are some photos from our truly magical visit to your boutique last weekend. I am so grateful for your help putting that all together! My mother was so overwhelmed and touched, as were the rest of my family members and friends. Having that special time and memory is truly a gift! Thank you again for setting that up with my friend and for coordinating and hosting us at your lovely boutique. I also must say that your dresses are absolutely gorgeous!! I confess I have looked up and drooled a bit over the line that you carry since we were there. My girlfriends keep saying they couldn’t believe all the dresses fit me! It was so much fun, which is a gift in itself as we are walking such a long hard road fighting brain cancer.”
— the Un-Bride
— By Krista Larrison, owner, Kita Events Bridal & Formal Wear