Once upon a time, Victoria’s Rheana Watterson had her wedding dress made.
Sadly, the wedding never happened.
Now the 36-year-old hopes she can transform a negative to a positive by making some little girl’s princess-dress fantasy come true.
She’s donating her dress to Victoria’s Help Fill a Dream Foundation. The organization helps teens and children with life-threatening illnesses fulfil wishes such as visiting Disneyland.
Collaborating with Help Fill a Dream, Watterson will have a designer remake her custom-made wedding dress into a princess-style gown. She imagines a little girl would like to wear this as a costume.
“A common dream is to go to Disneyland. And she could wear it at her princess lunch,” she said.
To raise funds for her project, Watterson will wear her wedding dress today at the Modern Bride Show at Crystal Garden. People can donate $5 to pin a “dream cloud” on the dress. Wedding-dress shaped cookies will also be sold for $7.
The public is also invited to donate their old wedding dresses at the bridal fair. The fabric will be recycled to help create the princess dress.
Watterson is an office assistant at Royal Roads University. In 2012, she was engaged and living in Calgary. She paid $1,300 for her wedding dress. However, feeling unsure about the relationship, she called off the wedding six months before the date.
Watterson originally intended it as a postponement rather than a breakup. “But we were kind of one foot out from that point on. After six months of being on a roller-coaster, it became evident that had been the right decision to make.”
Later that year the Victoria native returned to Vancouver Island to “rebuild my life and find a new direction.” She moved to Comox to live with her grandparents. Watterson originally intended to visit just a few months but ended up staying two years. She wanted to support her grandfather, recently widowed after 68 years of marriage.
After the cancelled wedding, the dress was stored with a friend in Calgary. Then it was dropped off at a consignment shop. When no one purchased the dress, Watterson had it flown to Victoria.
She saw it for the first time last September.
“I had no plans for it. So I was excited to get it back. I admit, I tried it on in my apartment a few times, just for fun,” she said.
Rather than trying to sell it again, Watterson decided she’d try to do something philanthropic with the dress. She searched online for ideas.
“The idea of the princess dress was my favourite of anything I found. I didn’t want to burn the dress or anything like that.”
She phoned Help Fill a Dream. Executive director Craig Smith said he was “thrilled and happy” about the princess dress idea, although it took him a while to understand the concept. “We thought this was unique,” he said.
Said Watterson: “I love to help others. I’m a very positive thinker. … I wanted to turn around a perceived negative into a positive.”
No child in particular has been selected for the dress. Watterson said it will take a designer one month to repurpose the garment. She hopes the new owner will wear it to a Help Fill a Dream gala event this fall.
Meanwhile, Watterson — a singer in her spare time — says her love life is on the rebound.
“You wouldn’t be overstating things if you said I was very happy in my current relationship.”