I’ve gotten a lot of neat stories and photos from customers over the years, but this one has to take the cake. First, let me share the note this husband sent to me earlier this year when he inquired about my Regency patterns:
I’m actually making this for my wife as a surprise for our 10th Anniversary. My friend is going to her work in full period clothing, pulling her out of work (in front of all her girlfriends, of course), taking her to my sister’s to fix her hair and dress her in this gown, then she will meet me for a picnic lunch on the grounds of the McNay Art Museum in San Antonio, TX, while string musicians play the music from several Jane Austen movies (P&P, S&S, Emma, etc.). Then off to a carriage ride and tour of the King Williams District (Victorian houses) stopping to check in at the Jackson House Victorian Bed & Breakfast. Then off to dinner and then our daughter’s school choir concert (she goes to a parochial school attached to a church that looks like an old English Castle) and after the concert the Priest will renew our vows. All the guys here at my work hate me because I’m making them look bad!
My wife is 10 weeks along with kid #4 and I have 7 weeks until our anniversary.
Now that’s an amazing anniversary gift! And did you catch the part where he mentioned that he would be making his wife’s outfit? Well, I just got the photographs from this amazing day and am delighted to share them here with Mr. B.’s fantastic description of the day’s festivities:
I purchased and you sent me the pattern file for your Regency Era gown. This was for our 10th anniversary. Well, it all went off wonderfully. Not everything went according to plan, but well enough. No carriage ride. That was a bummer. But we still toured the King William District, including the “Steve’s House.” Attached are some photos of our day. The guy with the powdered wig was my friend, James, who helped out.
It took me quite a while to make the gown, as I only have about 30 minutes each day between when I got off work and had to pick up the kids. But it all came together quite nicely. The bodice was a bit difficult, since my wife was four months pregnant with our fourth child. (Sarah Catherine is her name. She is due October 23rd.) I decided to add an adjustable panel in back with some lacing cord and a ribbon around the waist so that whole area could be adjustable. Keep in mind there was no way for her to try it on, since it was all a surprise. My mom and sister-in-law helped as stunt doubles, since they are both about the same size/shape.
Here’s how our day unfolded.
9:00AM My friend James pulled my wife, Odette, out of work early on the day before our anniversary in full dress with a scroll that he unfurled and read aloud in the lobby of her office building. Her boss and friends were all in on it:
O’yez, O’yez, O’yez, M’lords and M’ladies, friends of the [my wife's workplace] and citizens of San Antonio, gather ‘round and lend me your ear. On the twenty-second day of May in the one-thousand-nine-hundred-ninety-ninth year of Our Lord, then Miss Odette Marie F. did give her hand in holy matrimony to Mr. Robb Alan B. For nine years and three hundred sixty four days have they been married. And on the morrow, they will celebrate their tenth year as man and wife. Please wish them good cheer.
Then he said “Mrs. B., In keeping with the custom of traditional anniversary gifts, and in honor of your first year together, allow me to present to you a gift of paper; an invitation from your beloved husband.”
The hand calligraphied, wax monogram-sealed parchment invitation read:
It is a truth universally acknowledged that a married man in possession of a large hunger must be in want of a wife to join him for lunch. Please allow my man to escort you to the estate of my esteemed parents at Timber Hawk where Ms. Bloom, your lady in waiting, is ready to receive you.
In great anticipation of your arrival,
and with my deepest love,
9:30AM James escorted her out and dropped her off at my parents’ house, where my sister was waiting to do her hair and put on her outfit, which was presented in a fancy box. Included in the box were the gown, her bonnet, her shoes, gloves, my grandmother’s antique jewelry, a fan, and the reticule which had some mints, a tin with calling cards, some writing paper and pencil, a vinaigrette and some perfume. Also inside the box were some perfumed sachets and on top were two letters:
What you’re wearing now will just not do.
A gift of cotton is traditional for year number two.
These modern day clothes will just have to go.
An empire waist dress is more apropos.
I went searching all over, “This should be a breeze.”
But I couldn’t find a thing. I was most seriously displeased!
I might have found one in a costume store,
But one lovingly hand made would mean so much more.
Now your head of course should have something upon it
You wouldn’t want to go outside without your bonnet,
And lastly, the reticule and some trinkets within it
Now THIS lovely outfit would please Miss Bennet
Now you have on your dress, with your hat and your purse
But nothing on your feet, what could be worse?
A pair of shoes would be nice, don’t you agree
as a gift of leather for year number three.
12:00PM James took her to meet me on the grounds of the McNay Art Museum for lunch. We were situated in a little wooden gazebo next to a lovely Koi pond.
James then read,
The gift for year four, as I’ve heard them say,
is one of fruit and the flowers of spring,
So I present a picnic lunch on the grounds of the McNay
with fruit and cheese and crackers and every good thing.
James then presented the wicker basket (prepared secretly by my mother) with some sparkling apple juice, finger sandwiches, grapes, crackers and cheese, nuts, and some huge chocolate-covered strawberries for dessert. We used our fine china and our wedding gift crystal wine glasses. Not included was a bottle opener. I had to open the sparkling apple juice by using an exposed nail head in the gazebo. When the cap finally popped off the juice exploded out the top and I got a nice shower!
After that, the violinist came up and read,
In honor of your fifth year, if you could,
Allow me to present to you a gift of wood
the violin, or rather the music from it
You may recognize these songs, and I’m sure you’ll love it
She then proceeded to play several pieces from “Sense and Sensibility,” “Pride and Prejudice,” “Emma,” and some other classical pieces.
During lunch, we drew quite an audience. There were several school bus loads of children touring the museum. They all gathered around the pond and just watched as we ate lunch. We should have charged admission. I even had a few “Can I take a picture with you” requests before my wife showed up.
1:00PM We then toured the McNay art museum.
2:30PM Then we drove downtown and walked through La Villita (a quaint Mexican shopping center in downtown San Antonio)
4:00PM Then had an early dinner at Texas Land and Cattle (A nice steak restaurant on the Riverwalk where we last went on our honeymoon 10 years previous)
5:00PM We toured the King William District, which is an area of Victorian era homes, including the Steve’s House which was incredible. No photos allowed unfortunately. In our outfits, we felt entirely like we belonged there.
6:00PM We checked in at Jackson House Victorian Bed and Breakfast, which was quite a shock and very pleasing to my wife. We had the whole place to ourselves. We had a lovely breakfast at the Oge House the next morning.
7:00PM We then attended our daughter’s Spring Choir Concert. Not in costume as that would have mortified our daughter. We are not THAT cruel!
9:00PM Then we had our priest renew our vows and I presented my wife with an anniversary diamond band.
The next evening we attended a dinner theatre. The play was a Victorian Thriller. This was quite serendipitous, as I only found out about it when I checked in to the B&B early before everything went into action. The rest of our weekend we spent in Fredericksburg, TX, shopping in all the antique stores. After it was all over, we took all the photos and video (burned onto a DVD) and put it in this red velvet photo album:
There were supposed to be five more poems, but because the carriage ride fell through at the last minute, the other anniversary gifts didn’t quite line up like they were supposed to.
All in all, my wife was completely overwhelmed, shocked, but very very happy. I’m still redeeming some of those brownie points I got.
I defy anyone to beat this amazing anniversary story! What a day! And what a fantastic husband to go to such creative lengths to make his wife’s outfit and show her how much she means to him. Congratulations, Mr. and Mrs. B.!