SUMMERSIDE — Kali Wells always knew someday her prince would come.
She was so confident that would be the case that, at age 18, a time when there was no prospect for everlasting love in sight, she bought her wedding dress.
Later today, after having it hang in her closet for six years, Kali will slip into that dress to walk down the aisle to Chad Dawson, as the two wed in what, for the self-proclaimed old-fashioned couple, will be their fairytale wedding.
“It’s funny, when we started dating, the first Valentine’s Day card he got me says that I will always be his princess. His mom actually told me… ever since Chad was a little boy he always said when he met the right girl he would treat her like a princess.
“He calls me his princess and I feel like a princess when I’m with him.”
And, in that dress, a vintage dress found at a thrift shop so many years ago, the soft-spoken pretty blonde said she feels every bit the princess.
She laughs when telling the story of the dress.
Kali and her mother, Maria, have always been bargain hunters, often sifting through thrift and vintage store racks.
Then, one day, while on one of their outings, they stumbled upon the dress.
“I came across this white dress and I was like, oh, it is really pretty.”
Kali’s mother pushed for her daughter to try it on.
“It was too big at the time but the fabric was gorgeous.”
Kali is tight-lipped about the material, embroidery and beading or what the gown looks like — any detail that would spoil the big reveal to her soon-to-be husband, family and friends.
“He doesn’t know anything about it so I really can’t describe it and he doesn’t want to see it beforehand because we are old fashioned.”
A collector of gowns, with a half a dozen or so in her closet, Kali decided to add the vintage white dress to her collection.
She took it to the counter and paid the $10 ticket price, took it home and put it in her closet, where it hung, collecting dust, until last fall.
“I didn’t have any plans on getting married anytime soon. I went through five years of school,” said Kali. “I had maybe two not serious boyfriends, that’s it, before I met Chad.”
They met a year and a half ago at the local gym where Kali worked and Chad was a member.
He was struck by kindness and warmth.
“She is very old fashioned,” said Chad. “She is a homebody just like me. We like to hang out with our family a lot.”
Kali was taken by Chad’s smile.
“I remember the first time I saw him and he had this huge smile. He was always smiling.”
But she wasn’t looking for love.
“On the first date, it was kind of like, I could use a friend and I wouldn’t mind having someone to hang out with,” said Kali. “On that date, we ended up sharing a lot of things about our past with each other.”
Her feelings changed after that.
And, after their second date, Kali did something that even surprised her.
“I pulled the dress out of my closet. I hadn’t looked at it in years,” she recalled. “I was like, you know what, maybe it was time it had a night out. I knew, for some reason, he was the one.”
After 11 months of dating, came the proposal.
Chad would ask Kali’s father, David, for her hand in marriage before he would ask her to become his wife.
“He said he couldn’t have asked for a better man to be with his daughter,” said the groom.
His bride added, “He said to my Dad ‘I really want to propose to her under our first year so that she’s surprised.”
That was something that caught her father, who treated Kali like a princess and was protective of his only daughter, off guard.
“He got all teary-eyed and said that’s the same thing I did for her Mom.”
On Oct. 5, Chad proposed, taking Kali for a walk along the city’s boardwalk, a walk they had taken on that first date.
“I tricked her by asking her if there was something in her teeth,” said Chad. “She went to check and I went down on one knee and proposed.”
Kali added, “Before he finished saying it I started freaking out. I don’t think he fully got it out of his mouth.”
They quickly began planning for the big day and thoughts turned to the dress.
Kali had told Chad about her find all those years ago and her plans to wear it on their wedding day.
“All I know is that it is really old fashioned,” said Chad, noting that is the theme for their ceremony and reception. “I went with the tux that is short in the front and long in the back.”
Alterations have been done and the dress, said Kali, is now perfect.
“I got it altered for $30. Then I got it dry-cleaned for $35. In total, it had come to about $100. My shoes were $9 and my veil was actually borrowed. Oh, and my shoes are blue. Something borrowed, something blue.”
There was talk about having a first look prior to the evening ceremony, which is taking place in Kinkora.
“I want to be surprised,” said Chad.
There is one special person who has had a glimpse — Kali’s mother.
“She saw the dress and just started crying,” she said of her mother, who will be matron-of-honour. “I always had her as my best friend. I still call her that.”
So, what is it going to be like Friday evening to finally walk down the aisle, wearing the dress that she knew she would someday get to wear?
“It’s going to be really surreal. It’s been so built up and everybody’s asking and everybody is curious,” said Kali.
And, she added with a laugh, it is going to be hard to forget their anniversary.
“Our wedding date is 14/14. It is just easy to remember. Now we have to celebrate Valentine’s Day every year.”