The dress that kept on giving

By Laurene Gast | May 2, 2022

Mary and Gene Brand pictured at their wedding.

This is a story my friends Mary and Gene Brand told me about their wedding and her dress. 

They got married on Feb. 9, 1957, at Christ the King Catholic Church. The church wasn’t built yet, so the ceremony was held in the gymnasium.

Mary bought the dress at Henry’s Department Store for $200. That was a lot of money 65 years ago. She only wore the dress three times — once at her wedding and two times for two fashion shows at church.

Mary and Gene Brand pictured on their 50th anniversary.

After the wedding, Gene’s aunt, Annie Mohr, and his mother, Elizabeth Brand, suggested making something out of the dress instead of just storing it.

They remade the dress into a baptismal dress for a child whose parents couldn’t afford one.

They took the satin that was at the waistline and train to make a church vestment with a green cross on the back. Mary is Irish so green was her color of choice. It was given to Bishop Mark K. Carroll, whose favorite color was green because he was Irish, too. In turn, Bishop Carroll gave it to the first parish that was started after Mary and Gene’s wedding. That parish was St. Cecilia’s in Haysville. When the church could afford a readymade original church vestment, they gave the dress vestment to the missions to help there.

At St. Cecilia’s church, they made a cover for the chalice out of the dress material as well. Cecilia happened to be the name of Mary’s mother, Cecilia Burtz Kennedy.

What more could you ask of a wedding dress?