A wedding dress is a very special—and meaningful—piece of clothing. Brides take a lot of time and care picking out what they’ll wear the day their marriage begins, and wedding dresses often get passed down through generations.
When Ame Bartlebaugh was set to get married, she was excited to wear the gown her mother and aunt had worn before her. She knew it well from family photos, but when she opened the box in which the family believed the dress to be stored, she found an unfamiliar frock that looked nothing like the one she had come to know and love from the photos. They realized that the dry cleaning shop the dress was taken to back in 1985 had given them the wrong dress.
The shop had been closed for years, so the family was stumped about how to go about tracking down the gown. But since they were now the owners of a dress that wasn’t theirs, Bartlebaugh realized there was likely another family out there searching for their lost dress as well. So on Super Bowl Sunday, she posted photos of both dresses to see if anyone could help.
Although Bartlebaugh doubted that her plea would be answered, a man contacted her to say he believed the dress she now had belonged to his mother. He sent along photos of his mom in the dress as proof. Five years prior, the rightful owner of the dress now in Bartlebaugh’s possession, Michelle Havrilla, had discovered she had the wrong dress when she rescued the box it was stored in from the basement during a flood. She donated the unfamiliar dress she found inside to Goodwill.
When Havrilla was reunited with her gown, she was in disbelief. Check out the emotional moment that she saw her dress again in a video posted by her son, Brian:
Unfortunately, the dress that Havrilla found in her basement and donated to Goodwill was not the one that belonged to Bartlebaugh’s family.
Bartlebaugh is getting married in December 2019. While she hopes that her mom’s dress might still turn up, she’s glad she was able to reunite Havrilla with her dress.
“I already knew how it felt not having the dress. I can’t imagine someone else feeling that way,” she told Miami Herald. “The fact that I was able to take away that bad feeling, and replace it with a great feeling, felt really amazing.”
Bartlebaugh once again took to Facebook to put out another plea to find her mom’s dress:
Here’s hoping the dress turns up!