- A 94-year-old woman fulfilled a lifelong dream to wear a wedding dress 70 years after she married.
- Martha Mae Ophelia Moon Tucker was surprised by her granddaughter, who took her to try on dresses.
- Tucker said she couldn’t shop in Alabama bridal stores in the 1950s due to racial segregation laws.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
A 94-year-old woman fulfilled her lifelong dream of wearing a traditional wedding dress almost 70 years after she was unable to wear one at her wedding in 1952.
Martha Mae Ophelia Moon Tucker was treated to a surprise wedding-dress fitting from her granddaughter Angela Strozier on July 3 after Tucker told her that racial segregation laws in 1950s Alabama had prevented her and other Black customers from entering bridal boutiques.
The story first gained attention when Strozier shared the story on Facebook on July 4. Speaking to Insider, Strozier recalled recently watching the wedding scene in the movie “Coming to America” when her grandmother whispered something.
When she was asked to repeat herself, Tucker said: “I’ve always wanted to try on a wedding dress. I didn’t have one when I married.”
“During that time, Jim Crow law was live and in color and, unfortunately, segregation was the way of life. So with her being a Black American, she was not allowed inside of white establishments,” Strozier told Insider.
Tucker married her late husband Lehman Tucker Sr. while wearing a navy-blue dress that came to be known as a “Carmen Jones” dress with a fishtail or “mermaid” design, Strozier said. According to Vogue, the style of “Carmen Jones,” the eponymous character portrayed by Dorothy Dandridge in Otto Preminger’s 1954 film, remains influential to this day.
Tucker relied on the white woman whose house she worked in at the time to purchase this dress for her, Strozier said.
Days after hearing her grandmother’s story, Strozier decided to make Tucker’s dream of wearing a wedding dress a reality, arranging for her to receive a makeover from makeup artist Pharris Clayton and to try on dresses at a David’s Bridal boutique in Montgomery, Alabama.
Tucker was instantly drawn to a dress with a low V-neck and embellished waistline (she is pictured wearing the dress below), but she wanted to try on the type of dress she used to dream about — one with a high collar and long lace sleeves, Strozier said.
Tucker trying on a V-neck lace dress at a David’s Bridal boutique.
Angela J D Strozier
Strozier said the emotional experience made Tucker “overwhelmed with happiness” because her grandmother did not imagine that “trying on a wedding dress would go this far.”
For Strozier, it was important to her to pay back her grandmother, who she said has always prioritized her family and community.
“She’s always made sacrifices to give from her heart,” Strozier said, speaking of her grandmother. “So to return a gift from my heart to her was priceless.”
Tucker trying on a garter at the boutique.
Angela J D Strozier
Tucker, a mother of 4, grandmother of 11, and great-grandmother of 18, was active in the fight for active civil rights and she became a registered poll worker in 1963 with the Birmingham City Council, Strozier said. Tucker’s work spanned 11 political administrations starting with President Lyndon B. Johnson, her granddaughter added.
“She has always been the one to just made those types of sacrifices to make people know their rights,” said Strozier.
Since she posted her grandmother’s story on Facebook, people around the world have shared the images of Tucker dressed as a bride.
“She acts extremely excited as if she knows who it is but she’s 94,” Strozier told Insider. “So when I told her ‘Grandma, Snoop Dogg just shared your pictures on his Instagram,’ she was like, ‘Snoop Dogg?’ And we laughed because she probably don’t know who Snoop Dogg is.”
She added: “Now she’s saying, ‘Do you think Oprah may call me?’ I said, ‘I don’t think so Grandma.'”