Restored Vintage Wedding Gown at Ottawa’s Premier Bridal Show
“A stunning museum piece,” was just a sprinkling of the words used to describe the Reoch family’s bridal gown unveiled this past weekend in Ottawa, with new life breathed into it for the first time in over a Century.
There was electric energy in the air, as hundreds if not thousands of brides-to-be and their loved ones poured into the Ottawa Convention Centre for the winter Wedding Palace Bridal Show, in search of ideas for the day they’ve been plotting for years. It was hard not to feel the excitement.
Countless ballots for spa getaways, consults, and caterers were filled out, mimosas and espressos sipped, cakes and fondue sampled, and most importantly, the best in wedding fashion was taken in with wide eyes from women of all walks of life hailing from across the Ottawa region and beyond.
Browns Cleaners was just one of close to 200 exhibitors featured at this year’s Wedding Palace Bridal Show, which for those of you who don’t know, is Ottawa’s Premier Bridal event; boasting the most unique and creative experience that Ottawa region brides, grooms and exhibitors will ever experience.
As the sole AWGS (Association of Wedding Gown Specialists) certified business in the area and one of few across Canada, we were afforded the opportunity to participate again this year and showcase five of our proudest pieces on the fashion show runway.
The focal point of these five gowns was worn by 27-year old Jennifer Reoch, a nurse from Montreal, whose great-great-grandmother, Mrs. Marjory Reoch (nee McLean) wore at her wedding alongside husband, Robert Wilson Reoch, in September of 1901.
Last summer (and 113 years later) in Winchester, Ontario, a sudden flood struck the home of Bob and Muriel Reoch (Marjory and Robert’s grandchildren). Never did they know that not long after this tragedy, their ancestor’s precious gown could come back to life.
Grashka, our expert seamstress here at Browns, took it on herself to pour 6 months into resuscitating this piece (hat and gown) to its original style and beauty. Long-time owner of Browns Cleaners, Mack MacGregor, is serious about his business and only features his absolute best work at the annual show. “I try to have a story behind every dress I show,” he indicates, which was evident in the narrative behind this dress especially.
Teary-eyed, Muriel Reoch was overwhelmed with joy to see her grand-daughter Jennifer bringing the dress back to life. “It’s been a wonderful day,” she said, adding that he family was “really indebted to Browns Cleaners for this.” Muriel’s husband, Bob, was sadly unable to attend the show for health reasons, but she emphasized how incredibly proud he was of Jennifer for doing this.
Lorraine Reoch, Muriel’s sister and avid family historian, was equally thrilled to be present for this experience. After researching her family history she came to discover Robert Reoch’s Scottish lineage as a home child when he first immigrated to Canada in the late 1800s. Robert’s life as a foreign youth in Canada with no family connections locally, resulted in him struggling for years to make ends meet. However, upon meeting his wife Marjory McLean in small town Ontario, love soon brought them together. Marjory’s sister was a seamstress in the early 1900s, and is believed to have lovingly hand-crafted this gown and hat for her sister’s big day.
Knowing all this, the emotional connection for Lorraine in seeing this antique dress come back to life was incredible. “I’m sure [Marjory] would have never dreamed that would have happened,” she beamed. “I’m sure she’s looking down on us today with her blessing.”
If you were touched by this story or intrigued by this Century-old gown restoration like many past, present and future brides over the weekend, be sure to look no further than Browns. When it comes to cleaning and preserving your gown in pristine condition immediately following your wedding, or when planning to revive a dress back to its original condition from years past, we are full capable in our experience and expertise.