Martha Mae Ophelia Moon Tucker got married in 1952. Unfortunately, she wasn’t allowed to buy a wedding dress at the time. Not because of finances, or because she didn’t find a style she liked. But because of something she had no control over. Jim Crow laws at the time made it unlawful for black people to shop in white-owned shops. In 1952 Alabama, there were no black-owned shops either, leaving Martha without an option to have a wedding dress.
“When I got married, people of color could not go into any store or buy nothing,” Tucker told USA TODAY. “It was just my dream, but it didn’t happen.”
Martha grew up in a time where things were, mostly, different. She never complained about not being able to have the dream wedding she wanted. However, she did mention it in passing one evening.
While Martha and her granddaughter were watching a movie, she said something that inspired her granddaughter to do something amazing.
Wedding Dress for 94-Year-Old Martha
While watching “Coming to America,” the elaborate wedding scene came on the television. Martha whispered something about always wanting to try on a wedding dress. When she was married, she wore a dress her friend had loaned her. It was a blue mermaid-style for her, and her husband wore a yellow sports coat with white pants.
After hearing what her grandmother had said, Angela Strozier and some other family members came up with a plan. They made an appointment for Martha at their local David’s Bridal to find her a wedding gown.
The family members paid to have Martha’s makeup done before the bridal gown appointment. When they walked into the shop, the granddaughters explained the situation and why it was so important.
“When I heard her story, that made it all the more special,” Mary Adams, a bridal stylist at David’s Bridal, told The Washington Post. “Being a young Black woman, I felt sorrow that she wasn’t able to experience something that every young girl looks forward to – their wedding day.”
The Dress the Made Martha Smile
Although she ended up not purchasing the gown, she did find one she fell in love with.
“When I went into the bridal shop, that dress had my name on it,” she recalled. “Oh, it was so beautiful…I was in heaven.”People
Everyone who was in the store ended up being affected by the emotional moment. Martha’s smile beamed bright enough to gain the attention of all who were near her that day.
“I cried, and I think we all did. Even the other brides trying on dresses were crying,” Strozier said. “Not just because of the sweetness of the moment, but to see how she looked at herself in the mirror.”ABC News
“I looked in the mirror at myself wanting to know who is that,” Martha said. “Yeah, I was very excited! I felt great! I told ya, it felt just like I was getting married!”ABC News
Loving moments like these are what family is all about. While Martha didn’t walk out with a dress, she was able to try one on. And, that’s more than she ever dreamed of being able to do. If you enjoyed this story, leave your thoughts below!
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- “Jim Crow laws stopped this Black woman from trying on a wedding dress. At 94, her dream came true.” USA Today. Asha C. Gilbert July 26, 2021
- “94-Year-Old Grandmother Fulfills Dream of Wearing a Wedding Dress, After Not Being Allowed in Bridal Shop in 1952.” People. July 20, 2021
- “Great-grandma finally finds dream wedding dress 70 years after marriage.” ABC News. July 10, 2021.