At 89 years of age, Maureen Carney’s dream of being a bridesmaid finally came true when her granddaughter, Rochelle asked her to be in her bridal party.
Maureen had confessed to her granddaughter previously that not being a bridesmaid was one of her biggest life regrets. So Rochelle very willingly granted her wish. “Me? An old bird! Silly!” she responded to Rochelle. But it happened!
Maureen rocked the hen’s party (drinking mocktails) and for the wedding, had her hair and makeup professionally done. Maureen says she was thrilled to dress up in “the most beautiful dress I’ve ever owned in my lifetime.” Yep, Maureen glowed in a highly fashionable yet classic and age-appropriate White Runway dress!
The grandmother-of-ten stunned wedding guests as she walked down the aisle and caused a Facebook frenzy afterwards, with family posting gushing messages about how beautiful she looked. She even got a special mention in the speeches, with the father of the groom describing Maureen as a “spunk” in his wedding speech.
I spoke to the blushing bride, Rochelle and her beautiful grandmother, Maureen to find out the heartwarming story behind it all. Grab some tissues!
The bride says …
Rochelle says her grandmother is selfless and giving, despite experiencing difficult times throughout her life. So the bride, Rochelle, gifted her with a wish she knew would make her smile.
Q. Tell us about your relationship with Maureen?
Rochelle: “Maureen is my grandmother on my mother’s side. I’m close to my grandma as I spent many summers at her house in the beach town of Ballina while growing up. I often took friends to Nan’s house and spent ‘girl time’ with her. This is where I asked her about her life and regrets so that I could find something to give back to her, an opportunity or a gift that she couldn’t give herself. She was always difficult to buy gifts for because she was always happy with the simple gestures and made do with what she had.”
“Nan comes from a large Catholic family of nine children. She went to school up until Year 6 and went straight into the workforce. Nan was a hard worker raising four children! At age 44, her husband Kevin Carney had a massive coronary heart attack that left him unable to work. He had suffered from many ailments and developed many different cancers in his body. Maureen was a loving and doting wife who sacrificed her time to nurse him. She took care of him until he died at 69.”
“As a child, I witnessed Nan’s selfless actions and ability to care for others. She often went without outings and personal items in order to provide for her children, however, she always gave them what she could afford within her means, as money was scarce.”
“Nan always had hand-me-down clothing and mum recalls that he debutante dress was handmade from curtains so she could attend, which is why we wanted to give her an experience to remember at the wedding.”
“Lachlan and I have played in a band for 12 years – Nan is 89 but always comes to our gigs and has our posters up in her house. She has always been supportive, as most other grandma’s wouldn’t go out late at night, let alone go to a club with loud music. She even gets up and dances!”
Q. How did Maureen reveal she had always wanted to be a bridesmaid?
Rochelle: “One summer, I tried to get Nan to tell me stories about her life. What she did in her childhood, teenage years and I was trying to think of something nice I could do to give back to Nan, so I asked her: ‘What do you regret most? Was there something you’ve always wanted to do, but you haven’t been able to?’”
“She thought for a moment and said that she had been asked to be bridesmaid once, for a friend. However, she wasn’t allowed to be bridesmaid because she was Catholic and her friend was Anglican and the church wouldn’t allow it – as churches were separated back then. She said I guess it would never happen now. And I said, ‘Why not? Well, you can be mine!’ She laughed kindly, but I wasn’t joking …!”
The bridesmaid says …
Maureen spent her whole life doting over her family – and wouldn’t accept anything in return. But being asked to be a bridesmaid was a gift – and experience – she couldn’t refuse.
Q. Tell us about your dream to be a bridesmaid?
Maureen: “I’ve always wanted to be a bridesmaid. One day, my granddaughter Rochelle asked me if I had any regrets or things I wanted to do with my life and I told her the story of how I asked to be a bridesmaid for my good friend one time, and only one time, but I never got to walk down the aisle as back then churches were separate. You see, my friend was Anglican and I was a Catholic, so I wanted allowed to be a bridesmaid in the Anglican Church. Rochelle joked – or I thought she joked at the time – that when she gets married I could be her bridesmaid. Me? An old bird! Silly!”
Q. What bridesmaid duties did you perform?
Maureen: “I went to the Hen’s Party! We went to the Mantra at Kingscliff, NSW and the girls and I went to a day spa, drank cocktails by the pool and went out for dinner. I don’t drink alcohol, so Rochelle ordered me a mocktail! We also played a game where everyone had to freeze in army poses every time the whistle was blown.” “Rochelle gave me the whistle and I guess I was a bit cheeky! I also got ready with the girls on the wedding day at the beautiful Frog Hollow Lakehouse. My daughter, Helen bought us all embroidered bridesmaid robes. There were five of us, so hair and make up took a while. Rochelle and I just laid in bed and told stories until it was our turn. It was a very relaxing morning.”
Q. How did you feel standing beside Rochelle on the day?
Maureen: “I had the best day! I wish we could do it all over again! It was really a special day for both of us.”
Q. What did the family say about you being a bridesmaid?
Maureen: “Rochelle told me that my youngest son gushed all over the Internet and they couldn’t believe how my dress fit in so well with the other girls’ dress colours, but made me feel age-appropriate and special. Lachlan’s (groom) dad, Bill said I was a ‘spunk’ in his speech. We had the best day.”
Q. What was the highlight of your bridesmaid experience?
“I got to wear the most beautiful dress I have ever owned in my lifetime. I had my hair and make-up done professionally. I got to spend time with my granddaughter and play an important role in her special day. But I was really excited about the dessert bar! I have a sweet tooth!”
Q. How did you feel wearing your bridesmaid dress?
Maureen: “It was beautiful. It fit in with the girls, but gave me my own signature dress. It’s the best dress I’ve ever worn or owned. Thank you White Runway!”
Age-appropriate Bridesmaid Dress Tips
White Runway founder and General Manager Rebecca-Lau Marsh is renowned for creating elegant and fashionable fashion. And she jumped at the chance to create a look that would work beautifully on all the bridesmaids, despite the age-gap. Here’s Rebecca-Lau’s tips to dressing for any age, body shape and occasion.
♥ “Don’t get anything too tight. You want to feel comfortable and look good.”
♥ “Keep the dress length at the knees or lower.”
♥ “The bust-line doesn’t necessarily need to be high but keep it classy, leaving more to the imagination. If you fall in love with a dress but it’s got a low neckline, you can always find a matching undergarment to wear underneath.”
♥ “Keep it in by wearing Spanx and shapewear. Shapewear makes everything easier and will mean you can look good and feel good.”
♥ “Don’t be afraid to wear colour.”
♥ “Add a bit of sparkle. Bling adds instant glamour and looks great on mature women/bridesmaids.”
♥ “For those who want to cover up their shoulders with a shawl, opt for faux fur in winter and a light chiffon scarf or shawl for summer.”
Wedding photography by Leigh Warner Photography