Faith Family Heritage Tradition

What Does a Wedding Dress Say about You?

I absolutely despise reality shows. I think they are overly edited, encourage poor behavior, and are definitely not a representation of reality. However… there is one show I enjoy watching short clips of on social media; Say Yes to the Dress. It follows women as they go through the process of selecting what they feel is the perfect wedding dress for their special day.

“What are you doing at a wedding? You are telling a story about who you are as a couple. So that dress needs to represent who you are.” ~Randy Fenoli, Say Yes to the Dress

This August will be 30 years since my husband and I said “I do” at the Chapel of the Immaculate Conception at Seton Hall University. Anyone who has gone through the process of selecting a wedding dress knows it can be trying. I went with my mother; I went alone; I went with family members. Everyone, of course, had an opinion. I really had no idea what to pick.

That all changed when my parents went to Italy a little more than a year before my wedding.

The Trip that Defined my Dress

Glenn and Andrea Van Benschoten during wedding mass at Seton Hall University.
Glenn and I as we light the unity candle during our wedding mass.

At that time in my life, my parents were doing a lot of global travel. I would send them with a list of items I would love to have. Now, just to explain, this wasn’t an extravagant list. I would ask for things like a local newspaper in the country’s language, a pin from a local bar or restaurant. How my name would be written in the language where they were traveling. And to answer the question in your head, yes, I was always a weird kid.

I also asked for a magazine. It was the magazine my mother brought home for me that completely changed the wedding dress selection process.

It was a bridal magazine she purchased in Rome. She thought I would find it interesting to see what was popular in Italy at the time. Little did she realize I would pour over that magazine and find the dress I wanted in it. I had already found a bridal shop I liked, Bridals by Roma in Paramus, so I called and made a second appointment. My mother found a dress by Eve of Milady during my first appointment. It was nice, but it definitely wasn’t me. I brought them the magazine and showed them what I wanted. They had exactly two wedding dresses that fit my style request.

First, I tried on my mom’s pick again to refresh my mind. I knew it wasn’t the one. The next dress they had me try on met all my needs; except for one thing. It. Was. Huge. Giant poofy sleeves and a cathedral train. It looked like the dress swallowed me whole.

Rosina Fieramosca and Andrea Cammarato-Van Benschoten
My grandmother, Rosina Fucetola-Fieramosca, and I
before we left for my wedding.

So I was down to the last dress. I took a deep breath, knowing if this didn’t fit my idea, I was back at zero.

Well, let me tell you, it was like “Goldilocks.” It was just right.

Cap sleeve that looked like a bolero-style jacket, Italian-style lace, chapel train. All in raw silk. It was perfect.

So why am I telling you all this? Stick with me.

While watching a clip of “Say Yes to the Dress, Randy’s quote made me pay a little more attention. I rewound the video and listened to what he said again. It made me realize my dress said exactly what I was all about without even realizing it. I was honoring my heritage through my wedding dress style. As I continue down this road of ancestorial gratitude, Randy’s quote made me realize, your heritage, as well as your ancestors, are always with you. Even when you aren’t sure.

And for the record, I would pick that same wedding dress all over again. I am still in love with it.

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