It was fun for a day.

Now it hangs in your closet – probably pushed way to the back.

If you have a bridesmaid dress around – or two or three – you know the feeling.

Perhaps nothing in an individual’s closet is as story-inspiring, mirth-provoking and memory-inducing as that little scrap of satin and taffeta. Or maybe it’s not so little. We’ve seen those giant full-skirted ball gowns as well.

Now, dress owners across Western New York have a chance to show off all those frocks and tell the stories behind them.

The Buffalo History Museum, which produced a exhibit on bridal dresses last year, has taken up a new challenge at the start of 2014: to find interesting bridesmaid dresses and then pick one to preserve forever in the museum’s collection.

“I am imagining, again, it’s going to be tough to decide,” said Constance M. Caldwell, director of communications at the museum, comparing this year’s contest to last year’s.

Entering the first phase of the contest requires two things, Caldwell said.

Entrants must provide the museum with a photograph of the dress being worn by its wearer at a wedding. They must also send a story or statement about the dress.

The entries will be reviewed and then a few finalists chosen, Caldwell said.

The finalist dresses will be put on display at the museum, and voting will determine the winner that will be selected for the museum’s collection.

The museum is looking for one great dress – with a great story to go along with it.

“Having the artifact is enhanced by the story,” Caldwell said.

For instance, last year’s winner in the bridal dress contest was a wedding gown dating to the World War II period that had been made out of material from a parachute.

“The story is important,” Caldwell said.

This year’s contest – called “Always a Bridesmaid…” – will culminate March 2 at a museum event during which the winner of the contest will be chosen.

The deadline for entries is Feb. 10.

“The person does not have to have worn the dress,” Caldwell said. “However, we would like a photo of the person who wore the dress.”

“If you enter your mother, we would like a photo of the person wearing the dress.”

According to Caldwell, the purpose of this year’s contest is to gather contemporary wedding clothing from the Buffalo area to add to the museum’s permanent collection.

And besides, she said, everybody likes weddings. “It’s pageantry,” Caldwell said.

As for the winning dress, Caldwell said the owner will need to sign it over to the museum to be housed forever in the permanent collection.

But, she said, there’s a consolation for that.

It’s about posterity.

“If it’s been hanging in the closet for so many years, this is a wonderful opportunity,” Caldwell said. “What a coup to say, ‘You’re going down in history.’ ”


The museum is asking people not to send original photos for the contest, as they will not be returned. Entries may be emailed to the Buffalo History Museum at They may also be mailed to the museum. For more about the contest, contact the museum at The museum is looking for stories about the dresses in the range of 300 to 600 words.