Clark Meadows staff members transform into blushing brides

Special to the Daily Messenger
 |  MPNnow

CANANDAIGUA — It all started when Clark Meadows housekeeper Bonnie Ellis scored several pieces of costume jewelry at a garage sale.

She thought the sparkly brooches might lend themselves to a tea party for residents; her coworkers agreed. But, as one staff member put it, “At Clark Meadows, everything has to go a little bit above.”

The tea party took on a wedding theme. Then, after driver Patti Schultz mentioned her friend Chrissy Gray owns Carmela’s Bridal & Prom in Canandaigua, it turned into a full-fledged bridal fashion show for residents of this Thompson Health assisted-living community.

As the residents sipped tea – or champagne – and dined on cucumber sandwiches, scones, and eclairs in a large event room, staff members queued up in the hallway, waiting to surprise them.

The first model, Clark Meadows Program Manager Jennifer Army, hadn’t worn a wedding gown since she married her high school sweetheart 33 years ago. As she waited to enter the room, she joked with a retired colleague who came to see the fun that she ought to put one on, too. “We’ve got an extra one for you back here! It’s time to get dressed!” she said.

Army entered the room to The Emotions’ “The Best of My Love.” Emcee and Ferris Hills Resident Services Manager Claire Watson remarked, “It’s a shame her husband isn’t here. We could do wedding renewals for sure!”

The Dixie Cups’ “Chapel of Love,” “Marry You” by Bruno Mars, and Tony Bennett’s rendition of “The Way You Look Tonight” played as more staff members modeled a variety of 2023 gowns. Music Therapist Katherine McGrath, with a veil and a full-length train, wrapped up the fashion show.

“Her boyfriend was a little surprised when this dress was taken home the other night,” Watson quipped. “He wasn’t sure what to think!”

As the models changed back into their regular clothes before returning to the party, Ferris Hills/Clark Meadows Executive Director Aimee Ward shared the story of a 72-year-old wedding dress displayed at the front of the room.

Made of heavy material, the high-necked dress was to be worn by her mother for an October 1950 wedding. But the groom, a World War II veteran, was in the Marine Corps Reserves and got called up for the war in Korea, so the wedding was held on a hot day in August instead.

“My mom lost about 10 pounds wearing this dress that day,” Ward said, noting that she could not bear to part with the dress after her mother passed away. “I’m glad I had an opportunity to show it off today.”

Watson said in addition to being lighthearted fun, the event gave staff members and residents alike an opportunity to reminisce about their own nuptials.

“And it all started with Bonnie’s yard sale find!” she said.