If it were a movie, Frieda Bentz would have watched Allison Basore walk down the paper-thin aisle in her wedding dress and the dress would come alive again with young fluid strides. Instantly and vividly, Bentz would have been transported back to March 14, 1943.
She would have seen herself again as a young bride. She was nervous on the windy, sunny March day. There were so many things to do. The feeling of excitement and anxiety would have filled her again like a fountain warming her entire body.
That’s why movies are based on true stories. Hollywood leaves documentary making to people concerned with reality.
What Frieda Bentz really thought was “how did I ever fit into that thing.”
Bentz’s thoughts mirrored an event that was often less than glamorous — Tampa’s Wedding Dress Modeling show on Saturday. Bentz and her sister Alma Meyer wore the same dress for their weddings. As master of ceremonies Mary Jirak told the story of each wedding, flush with detail, Basore had to walk up and down the improvised catwalk a dozen times, trying to slide the cumbersome train of the dress on the thin paper floor to not soil it more than necessary. Basore and Abigail Svoboda were the guinea pigs for the other models, who slowed their struts to a meandering crawl to match the epic length of each description.
The teenage models also struggled with a variety of full-length dresses. In a few instances a model was close to teetering coming around the initial right turn onto the main aisle.
No one planned for the boredom of the four flower girls — Isabelle Rziha, Felicity Gear, Bridget Gear, and Josephine Jirak — to affect the ceremony. After sprinkling the runway with rose pedals to begin the event the four young girls decided they were not finished. Each flower girl took turns of spraying the walk way in front of several models midway through the show.
While wearing the dress of Maria Gear, Kristine Jirak nearly tripped over Josephine Jirak who kneeled down in front of the model to pick up a few stray petals in the middle of the walk way. Kristine sidestepped the younger Jirak gracefully, although with a chuckle.
There was still a majesty to the event. Model Morganne Hamm remarked that seeing the changing style of dresses over the years — replete with bonnets and veils and ornate stitching — was interesting.
The less than majestic moments were still appropriate. There was a reason Mary Jirak brought up the ritual hot dog service at 9 p.m. for every wedding reception at the Starlight Ballroom. There was a reason she talked about the rain soaked wedding days. There was a reason she talked about traditions like dumping cooked beans out of a window.
No bride thinks of these events when planning her perfect wedding, but the little quirks, the defects everyone can see, become the things people remember. The memories, all these years later, are what each bride truly treasures.