we wore the same dress

When people find out that all three of us wore the same wedding dress, their reaction is usually the same: surprise, incredulity, amazement.

Shortly followed by a series of questions—some more and some less delicate—all searching to comprehend something so unexpected.

Did you like it?

Did you want to?

Did you fit it?

Did it look good on you?

The answer to all of these questions?


Yes, we all loved the dress. Yes, we all wanted to wear it. None of us was forced into wearing it! We didn’t plan it this way...for us all to wear the same dress. It just sort of happened. And I can’t explain how or why it fit all of us, apart from minor alterations between wears. It was kind of like the Sisterhood of the Traveling Wedding Dress: it fit us, in our somewhat varied sizes and heights, and we all felt beautiful in it.

Even when we explain all of those points above, many people still find it hard to believe that three sisters wore the same wedding dress. Maybe it made sense for Maria and me, because there was a three year gap between our weddings. But many find it a bit harder to comprehend when they hear that Sophie and I got married only a year apart…in the same church…and the same reception venue. (Yeah. we pretty much had the same wedding.)

How can I explain all this?

I’ve found it usually helps to show some pictures. People understand better when they realize just how beautiful this dress is.

Maria + Sam, 2010

Sarah + Noah, 2013

Sophie + Philip, 2014

It’s basically a princess dress.

I think we all went through the same thought process when we were planning our weddings. We could search high and low, try on lots of dresses, go through tears and stress, and finally spend a lot of money on a dress that we might really like but that came with some outrageous price tag…..or we could just wear the princess dress hanging in the closet.

Because, you see, there’s a clincher to our unconventional story: this dress was also the dress that our stepmom wore when she married our dad. And believe me, she looked just as beautiful in it too.

Our mother died of breast cancer when we were young—Maria was ten, I was eight, and Sophie was five. A lot from that time is a blur; we all sort of stumbled through it, our dad included.

When dad remarried, something like a miracle happened. It wasn’t like we were broken apart and estranged or anything—throughout the whole trial we were surrounded by a community of friends who really stepped in and supported us. But we were hurting.

Our new mom came in and helped stop up the gaps and establish a home again. She loved us like her own. As we’ve grown older, we’ve become more aware of the miracle of the whole thing. It didn’t have to turn out this well.

So each of us sisters, when the time came, was honored to be able to wear our stepmom’s wedding dress. The dress came into our family miraculously, and its presence in our lives, both physically and symbolically, is something that, with each wedding, we’ve celebrated repeatedly. 

Catherine + Michael, 1999