Five brides, one dress

First owner creates doll brides from material

Published on February 13, 2017

Lois Gaudet, from left, Mary Gallant, Donna LeClair, Patsy Gavin and Sylvia Ellsworth display the miniature doll brides Gavin made from the same bridal gown all five women wore for their weddings between 1974 and 1978.

©Submitted photo

SEACOW POND – Looking at a pile of material that once was her wedding dress, Patsy Gavin remarks, “It got its money’s worth.”

Patsy Morrissey bought her dress somewhere in Summerside – “probably at Holman’s” – for her Nov. 2, 1974 wedding to Billy Gavin.

She paid $75 for the wedding dress and made the bridesmaids' dresses herself.

Patsy Gavin displays the bridal doll she made for herself using material from the wedding dress she wore 42 years ago.
Eric McCarthy/TC Media

The wedding dress wasn’t what mattered anyway, she admits. “I just picked one; I don’t remember going through a lot. I picked a good one, anyway – lots of material.”

It seems it really was a good dress as, over the next four years following Patsy and Billy Gavin’s marriage ceremony at St. Simon & St. Jude Church in Tignish it was used by four more brides.

“They just put it on, no alterations or anything,” she recalls. In between weddings and thereafter the wedding dress just stayed in a bag in her closet.

It was used in a “mock wedding” during the 25th wedding anniversary celebration for Donna and Phil LeClair in 2001.

Around the time of the LeClairs’ silver anniversary, she and Donna both tried on the dress and found it still fit.

All that material came in handy when Patsy decided to cut into the dress and make a miniature dress for each of the brides.

Mary Shea was the first to borrow Patsy’s dress. It was for her July 19, 1975 wedding to Clarence Gallant.

Donna’s wedding to Phil was just over a year later, on July 24. Sylvia Gallant wore the dress for her March 11, 1978 wedding to Gerard Ellsworth, and Lois Rayner was wearing it when she exchanged vows with Rodney Gaudet on Nov. 25, 1978.

So that’s two summer weddings, two late fall weddings and a late winter wedding, all in a dress with long, puffed sleeves and a high neckline.

The bridal dolls Patsy Gavin created from a wedding dress five Tignish area brides wore in the 1970s.

©Submitted photo

Donna wore the same bridesmaid dress in both Patsy and Mary’s bridal parties.

All five weddings were in Tignish. Patsy and Billy’s wedding reception was at the Tignish Legion and the other four couples held their receptions at the Tignish Parish Centre.

As of Valentines Day this year the five couples have been married, collectively, 201 and a half years. They’ve raised 15 children, and have 10 grandchildren.

Patsy Gavin models what’s left of a wedding dress she and four other brides wore in the 1970s. Gavin, the owner of the dress and the first bride to wear it, cut it up to make doll gowns for each of the brides.
Eric McCarthy/TC Media

The dolls have porcelain hands and heads on a cone-shaped body. Patsy stuck with the high neckline in making all of the dresses. Material from the dress was used in making the miniature dresses and material from the veil in making the veils.

She made Mary Gallant’s miniature dress in 2010 and mailed it to her in Alberta.

“What a great idea,” Mary wrote in a letter of thanks. “Imagine, wearing a long-sleeve, high-neck wedding dress the middle of July, 102 degrees.” Until then she was unaware five brides had worn the dress.

Patsy only got going on the final four dolls after Donna and Phil’s 40th anniversary party last year.

Then she organized a get-together to present the dolls.

“I couldn’t wait to finish. I couldn’t wait to get together with the girls,” she said. Two of the women were not aware that she was making the bridal dolls and Patsy simply instructed everyone to bring along wedding photos for the party.

“We didn’t have photographers or anything; no wedding planners, for sure,” she said.

“It just looked like we were all the same bride,” she said in comparing the wedding photos.

“It was a special night. The girls are still talking about it. They want us to get together again some time.”