By Katelyn Massarelli

The day a woman marries the person she loves is supposed to be one of the most special times of her life. The day she puts on her perfect wedding dress and attire is the day her life changes forever. What we do not realize is that each bride creates a story of themselves as American women and the evolution through the centuries.

Wedding dress collector, Leigh Anne Brown, is dedicated to sharing the stories stored in the dresses she has collected for the past 20 years. Brown shares the story of at least 175 brides dating all the way back from the Civil War era discussing the evolution of the wedding dress style and modern American woman.

According to Brown, her collection is a direct result of her lifelong love affair with antique clothing. Brown isn’t solely dedicated to preserving vintage wedding dresses, she also wants to preserve the story that accompanies each dress she receives.

“[At first glance], people first think they are going to see a fashion show,” Brown said. “I really discuss the changes of women, social expectations, politics, and everything that surrounds women daily. Every decade women step out of the box and we look at how an individual bride was impacted by her world at the time.”

As the collection continued to grow it led her to presenting portions of her collection to audiences ranging from veterans, ladies, churches, and charities. Her most recent presentation was shown at The Bridges in Riverview that was called Portraits of a Bride.

Brown is able to connect generations of women to today’s generation and how we relate to brides of the past. According to Brown, her collection and presentations are a way for a bride’s story to be told again and live on along with future generations of brides.

“There is a reason behind why a dress looks the way it does,” Brown said. “[Through the presentations], viewers can see the progress through time and because these are real people who wore these dresses, it becomes personal to people.”

If you are interested in donating your wedding dress or a family member’s wedding dress, email Brown at lelu22@juno.com.