1948: Liz (Stoutner) Laurence as mother of the bride

Sepia Saturday 394: Eleventh and last in a series on piecing together the origins of my maternal grandmother Elizabeth (Stoutner) Laurence’s fashion sense.

Mother of the Bride (1948). My maternal grandmother Liz (Stoutner) Laurence (c.) was eye-catching as Mother of the Bride at my parents’ wedding. With her are  (l.) my dad’s brother and Best Man William Francis Charboneau (Uncle Frannie) and (r.) my maternal grandfather Tony W. Laurence, the Father of the Bride. Scan by Molly Charboneau

In November 1948, my maternal grandmother Elizabeth (Stoutner) Laurence, 43, appeared at my parents’ wedding as Mother of the Bride in a dress to die for.

Liz never had a bridal gown of her own, since she and my grandfather eloped — so she seems to have compensated by pulling out all the stops for my mom Peg’s wedding with an eye-catching outfit that made her a standout in the wedding party.

My grandmother looked pretty good as a Maid of Honor at her younger sister’s wedding, but Aunt Margaret would have chosen Liz’s dress for that occasion.

This time, the choice was up to Liz — and clearly, she aimed to dazzle from head to toe. She wore a black feathered fascinator hat at a jaunty angle and sported stylish eyeglasses that could be worn today. Subdued accessories — tiny watch, small drop earrings, wedding ring and corsage — meant her dress took center stage.

Stunning in copper and black

Parents of the bride and groom at my Mom and Dad’s wedding (1948). From left: William Ray and Mary (Owen) Charboneau; Norm Charboneau and Peg (Laurence) Charboneau; Liz (Stoutner) and Tony W. Laurence. Scan by Molly Charboneau

And what a dress! Shiny copper-colored stripes alternated with black matte at a bias angle on the sleeves and skirt and horizontally across the torso — so whenever Liz moved, the dress would pick up the light.

Normally, my grandmother wore flats when out with my grandfather since she was several inches taller — but she went ahead and wore strapped heels for this special occasion, which nicely complemented her dress. Long black gloves completed her stunning look.

Not to take away from anyone else in the wedding party. Everyone looked wonderful befitting their own personal styles — and it was my parents’ special day after all. But even among family, my maternal grandmother displayed a certain unique style that was all her own.

A shimmering dream

You may wonder how I know that my grandmother’s dress was copper and black, since the photos are black and white.

The explanation is simple — I actually saw the dress hanging in an attic closet during a visit to her house when I was in my twenties.

I may have asked her about it or recalled the dress from seeing my folks’ wedding photos — but what stays with me is the beautiful iridescence of the copper and the garment’s clean, tailored lines.

Years later, when my family closed out my maternal grandparents’ house after they both passed, I checked in the closet for the dress — but it was gone.

Yet its image still lingers like a shimmering dream — a beloved reminder of my maternal grandmother Liz who set a high bar for family style and lived by it all her life.

Up next: A family holiday get together. Meanwhile, please visit the posts of this week’s other Sepia Saturday participants here.

© 2017 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

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14 thoughts on “1948: Liz (Stoutner) Laurence as mother of the bride”

  1. Weddings are always a special time to remember and what better way than with fashionable clothes selected for a single occasion. However my wife and I had a civil ceremony that took all of 5 minutes. For that event we each chose attractive attire that would still prove useful for other events. 30 years later my wife still has her dress, but sadly I no longer fit into my suit and last year I consigned it to a charity shop.

    1. Thanks for this story, Mike. My grandmother was married in a suit when she and my grandfather eloped. So this may have been a substitute special occasion at which she could shine before friends and family.

  2. It certainly was a stunning dress, and she looked stunning in it. That said, I wonder about trying to be so fancy at a daughter’s wedding, however? Kind of reminds me of my daughter-in-law’s mother showing up for her daughter’s wedding in a white lacy dress?! Still and all, it’s nice that you have such a fond remembrance of the dress your stylish grandmother wore. 🙂

  3. Isnt it great that the dress made such a striking impact that lasted way beyond the event itself.
    Much power to her style. She looked lovely.

  4. Your grandmother certainly was quite a bit taller than her husband, but clearly she did not let that cramp her style. Lovely that you saw the dress but sad that it disappered.

  5. In those days of pastel mob dresses your grandmothers would have been a double knock-out. Love the hat too.

    1. I was thinking the same thing. Even my paternal grandmother, at left, wore a dress embellished with bling — at the collar and along the pleats. Neither of them appears to have gone the pastel way!

  6. How wonderful that a dress reminded you of an occasion (from which you only saw the photos) It reminds me of what I wore as mother of the grooms (my sons) in their weddings…not quite as stylish!

    1. I was touched to find the dress in my grandmother’s closet so many years later, when other clothing had gone by the wayside — evidence of its importance to her.

  7. A lovely memory of your elegant grandmother’s dress. It clearly made a great impact on you, when you saw it hanging up in her wardrobe, but what a pity it disappeared.

    1. I looked for a description of the dress in my parents wedding announcement in the newspaper, but the reporter focused on the bride and Maid of Honor. I feel lucky that I at least saw the iridescent copper, or there would have been no record at all!

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