By Kristina Aaronson
Kristina Aaronson’s Grecian wedding dress is part of the New Threads exhibition on view at the Colorado State University Avenir Museum of Design and Merchandising in the Lucile E. Hawks Gallery: February 1, 2022 – Summer 2022. Read on for Aaronson’s story of her unique dress.
Story of the dress
Ever since I married in 1975, I celebrate two anniversaries – February 16 and February 22. This is because my husband and I had two ceremonies. Unusual…but it happened.
Little did I know that when I took a job as the librarian at the American School of Asunción in Paraguay, I would meet and fall in love with the Social Studies teacher. Within a year and a half, we were planning a wedding which turned into two. Our original idea was to be married by the ship’s captain on the Eugenio C, an Italian ocean liner we were booked on, bound for Naples from Buenos Aires. A trip around Europe and North Africa was to be our honeymoon. When we called our parents to share our plans no one was pleased. They wanted to be at our wedding. So, we compromised by taking our honeymoon first and then planning two different weddings for both our families.
We were married in Orange, Connecticut, on Feb. 16, 1975, by a rabbi in my sister-in-law’s home. My mother-in-law found the only rabbi in Connecticut who would perform the ceremony because I was not Jewish. I wore my Grecian dress for the first time and walked down the stairs on the arm of my brother-in-law. My wedding was the first Jewish wedding I had ever been to.
A week later, we traveled to my parents’ home in Mexico City where they lived at the time. My mother hired a caterer to make an elegant authentic Mexican luncheon for 40 guests, most of whom were U.S. Embassy friends and some relatives from California. For the second time, I put on the Grecian dress, took my father’s arm, and walked down the long hallway of their modern house. The Unitarian minister in Mexico City presided over the ceremony held in front of the circular fireplace. The next day I packed the dress in my suitcase, and we traveled to Santiago, Chile, where we had jobs waiting for us at the International School. We were finished with weddings.
The handmade ivory wool dress I ordered in a dress shop in Athens while on our travels, turned out to be perfect for snowy Connecticut in February and cool Mexico City in winter. If we had been married on the ship as we had wanted, I never would have worn a Greek wedding dress with a story behind it. As it turned out, our travels through North Africa, Greece, and Europe gave us time to shop for a dress, wedding ring, and party favors. The international touches for our two celebrations reflected much about us as global citizens.
Excerpt from a letter written to my parents on January 11th, 1975 – Athens, Greece:
…the wedding dress is being made for me here and is simply out of this world…It cost a fortune but for 2 weddings we rationalized it. It’s long ivory wool with heavy gold embroidery…and an embroidered short vest that fastens under the bust. It is typical Grecian design and truly a work of art. It is worthy of being put in a museum someday. I shall hand carry it all the way to New York and then to Mexico City…
My prophecy came true now that my Grecian dress resides at the Avenir Museum of Design and Merchandising in Fort Collins, Colorado. What a long way it has traveled from Athens in 47 years. It is fitting that it should be on display for others to enjoy for years to come.