Kathleen Rinaldi waited 25 years to open her sealed wedding dress box only to discover that her wedding dress was not inside. “I was so heartbroken when I pulled out the dress and realized they had given me the wrong one,” said Rinaldi, who is married to Robert Rinaldi, owner of Rinaldi’s Italian Specialties in Longmeadow.
The couple is celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary this September and Rinaldi wanted to alter her wedding dress to make a new outfit for her vow renewal ceremony. “I have always been so careful with the box making sure to keep it in a cedar chest and never opening it,” she said. At first Rinaldi did not notice it was not her dress. She asked her daughter Angelina, 22, to try it on and as she zipped up the back she knew something was wrong.
“My dress did not zip up, it had buttons. I ran and got the wedding album and saw that the dress looked nothing like mine except that it had a v-neck front,” she said.
Rinaldi’s sister-in-law brought the dress to Longmeadow Cleaners 25 years ago to get it sealed. The dress was then sent to a factory in Windsor Locks, Conn. where the dress was sealed and then returned to Longmeadow. Inside the box Rinaldi found her veil and her purse. She also found paper cut outs with drawings of a bride and groom tied together with a green piece of twine.
“This dress belongs to someone, I’m sure it meant something to them and I would like to find the owner,” she said. Rinaldi is hoping the little drawings tied with twine will stir someone’s memory. On the back of one face it says “All promises...” 1 King 8:56. On the back of the other face it says “Praise God.”“I’m hoping someone will remember drawing these or a bride or her family will remember placing them in the box,” she said.
The dress in the box is a size 6 ivory colored floor length gown with a v-neck and long sleeves. Rinaldi paid $5,000 for her dress and veil at Winshaw’s of Hartford back in 1984. “I fell in love with the dress and put it on layaway. I made payments on it for two years,” she said. Her dress, which was decorated with Swarovski Crystals and pearls also has another detail.
“I modeled my wedding after Princess Diana’s and she had an initial in diamonds on the train of her dress. I got an R in rhinestones put on the train of my dress,” she said. Rinaldi and her son Jonathan, 13, have spent days looking through wedding announcements from the same month and year to see if someone has the dress.
“I went through an old copy of The Republican where my wedding announcement was displayed and we have called every bride that had a dress that was even similar to mine,” she said. So far they have had not found anyone who could have her dress. “Some women have gotten divorced and no longer have their dresses. A lot of them never got their dresses sealed and some got them sealed in New York or other states,” she said.
Rinaldi, who still has every RSVP card and wedding card that they received as well as many other mementos from the wedding, still holds out hope that her dress can be found. “I know it’s just a dress. I have a wonderful life with two beautiful children and I am blessed to still be married to my husband. I have come to accept that I may never find the dress, but it would be wonderful if I could,” she said.