On February 19, 1983, race-car driver Cheryl Linn Glass (1961-1997) marries Richard Allan Lindwall (b. 1957), the head mechanic on her racing team, in an elaborate $50,000 ceremony at St. Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood, followed by a reception at the just-opened Sheraton Hotel in downtown Seattle. The lavish wedding is fully documented as Seattle’s “wedding of the year” (Rhodes) by The Seattle Times and other publications, and the coverage prompts many requests for Glass’s designs. In response, in 1985 Glass will open a Seattle studio named Cheryl Glass Design specializing in wedding dresses and evening wear.
In 1980, at the age of 18, Cheryl Glass turned professional race-car driver after nine years of amateur racing. This led to her racing career and to meeting her husband-to-be Richard Allan Lindwall, a native of California. Lindwall became a member of the Glass Team as the crew chief and head mechanic and they traveled together to quarter-midget, sprint, and dirt-car races across the country. Their passion for racing cars was something that brought the young couple together. When Glass’s helmet went on, their focus was on the track.
In August 1982, Lindwall proposed to Glass. The couple initially wanted to elope. After Glass changed her mind, and setting the date six months ahead, she immediately began planning her wedding venue, atmosphere, music, and guests. “My father said he wanted to send me off in style, and I could have anything I wanted,” Glass told The Seattle Times:
“I wanted the most formal elaborate wedding I could possibly conceive of because most of my life I’ve wanted to go for broke, to put all my effort into something and have it be the best there is … I feel my life is in this dress … It was meant mainly for atmosphere for the people in the wedding and those attending. I want them to have an evening of fantasy — a wedding like most people have never seen and probably never will see again” (Rhodes).
Glass designed and beaded her size-eight wedding dress, with the assistance of friends, in more than 1,000 hours of work over six months. The Times described it in detail in a major feature article published two days before the wedding:
“The dress of peau de soie and antique lace is beaded with 40,000 pearls, 6,000 seed pearls, 7,000 crystals and 25,000 iridescent sequins …
“From the dress will fall a 15-foot matching train appliqued with 100 large lace flowers, trimmed with 5,000 pearls, 1,800 seed pearls, 3,000 crystals, and 30,000 iridescent sequins. To get the beading and lace to match the fabric, [Glass] used five large jars of instant tea as dye” (Rhodes).
The cost of the dress was estimated at $3,000, and the beads almost $1,000, with the full regalia weighing roughly 40 pounds. Her handmade shoes, accommodating her somewhat strange shoe size (one foot size 7, the other size 9) were covered in lace. Her bouquet consisted of several dozen off-white roses, two dozen gardenias, and 400 stephanotis blooms.
Glass also designed her nine bridesmaids’ dresses in coral-pink taffeta and beaded each with 300 pearls. “Not only were their shoes dyed to match, but even their makeup [was] professionally coordinated ” (Rhodes). The bridesmaids each received an antique-type porcelain doll each designed and made for the various size dresses they wore. (As a small child, Glass had had a successful business making and selling ceramic dolls to local department stores.) Glass’s fiancé Lindwall took on the task of making hundreds of small porcelain wedding bells, inscribed with the couple’s names and wedding date, to hold the bridegroom’s cake.
Given the massive planning of the wedding, Glass wanted to have her dress listed in the Guinness Book of World Records and the ceremony featured in Modern Bride magazine. The wedding party contained 24 attendants, and the cost of the entire affair was estimated at $50,000.
In December 1982, a near disaster could have destroyed the wedding plans if her father had not reacted quickly. A fire broke out in the basement of the family home. With bloody hands from cut glass, he grabbed his daughter’s wedding dress and bolted out of the house. It is not known how the fire was ignited. The dress was not damaged and the bloodstains from her father’s hands were washed off.
Overjoyed and tired from all the preparation and planning, Glass knew the event would be memorable. There would be great moments that happen and some unforeseen circumstances lurking around the corner.
The elaborately planned wedding took place at 5:00 in the afternoon on February 19, 1983, a cool winter day, at St. Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral, located at 1245 10th Avenue E on Seattle’s Capitol Hill. High on the hillside above Interstate 5, the cathedral is an easily visible landmark in the city. With the arrival of guests, a blend of tradition and cultures was represented as the church filled with family and friends from all over.
The marriage ceremony was performed by an Episcopal priest. The bride and groom exchanged rings as a symbol they tied the knot, and photos were appropriately taken. More than 600 guests had been invited. The wedding was so large that Glass created a five-page program listing the highlights of her wedding to hand out to guests. The music before and during the wedding was performed on the St. Mark’s pipe organ and by the Northwest Symphony String Quartet. Before the ceremony, corsages were delivered to the homes of 40 of the invited guests.
The wedding reception was held at the new Sheraton Hotel that had just opened in downtown Seattle at Sixth and Pike streets. It was first major event held in the hotel. The reception began with a catering staff serving champagne and hors d’oeuvres, followed by a sit-down seven-course dinner with wine. Forty tables graced the room with extravagant floral arrangements for guests. The Opus 4 String Quartet and five members of the Bellevue Symphony played music for dancing. The six-tier spice wedding cake was eight feet, two inches tall, decorated with cream frosting, pulled-sugar bows, and marzipan roses.
The entire event was a memorable celebration. Even before it took place, Glass’s father Marvin Glass had summed up the event and his daughter’s role in designing it:
“I surmised that when Cheryl had a wedding it would be like this … because with everything she does she’s very specific about how she wants it done — just right.” (Rhodes)
A Great Idea Starts with Requests
The wedding and Glass’s opulent wedding dress received nationwide recognition. So impressed were many by her designs that Glass received numerous requests for designs from other brides-to-be. Two years later on May 23, 1985, at the age of 23, the race-car driver opened her custom studio Cheryl Glass Designs in the historic Interurban Building built in 1891 at 102 Occidental Avenue S in Seattle’s Pioneer Square neighborhood.
The boutique specialized in custom wedding dresses and formal evening attire, and offered catering services for special events for local and national clients. Each dress was a one-time original design made to the specifications of the customer; prices beginning at $1,000. Glass’s work was recognized nationally in fashion and style publications. Her beautifully created fashion sketches were displayed in her studio before they were brought to life.
Glass was recognized as Most Outstanding Young Designer in a Salute to Pacific Northwest Black Designers in the 1980s. She owned, managed, and operated her fashion design business for 12 years, until her untimely death in 1997.
Elizabeth Rhodes, “What a Wedding!” The Seattle Times, February 17, 1983, p. D-1; Dick Rockne, “Breaking the Barrier at Indy 500,” Ibid., October 19, 1983, p. E-1; Marilyn Kirkby, “On a Fast Track — Racer Drives a Varied Career,” Ibid., May 23, 1985, p. E-5; Renee Mitchell, “A Talented Designer Steers for the Top of Life in the Fast Lane,” Seattle Post Intelligencer, July 19, 1987, p. F-4; “Race Car Driver Trades Helmet for Classy Veil,” The Independent-Record (Helena, MT), September 25, 1983, p. 25; “Pit Stop for Wedding,” The Billings Gazette, February 20, 1983, p. 21; “This Wedding Hard to Beat,” The Montana Standard, February 21, 1983, p. 16; Marshall Pruett, “The Life and Death of Cheryl Glass,” July 14, 2017, Road & Track website accessed July 1, 2021 (https://www.roadandtrack.com/motorsports/a10307202/the-life-and-death-of-cheryl-glass/); Francesca Steele, “Don’t Hate Me Because I’m Fast: Remembering Cheryl Linn ‘The Lady’ Glass, 1961-1997,” July 14, 2019, Hemmings website accessed July 1, 2021 (https://www.hemmings.com/stories/2019/07/14/dont-hate-me-because-im-fast-remembering-cheryl-linn-the-lady-glass-1961-1997); Esther Hall Mumford, Calabash: A Guide to the History, Culture, and Art of African Americans in Seattle and King County, Washington (Seattle: Ananse Press, 1993), 29-30; Cheryl Glass website accessed September 11, 2020 (www.cherylglass.com); “Seattle’s St. Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral opens in 1930” (by Priscilla Long), http://www.historylink.org/ (accessed August 6, 2021); “Cheryl Glass” (video), YouTube website accessed June 15, 2021 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7vY64xMjbb0); “Shirley Talks About Cheryl” (video), YouTube website accessed June 15, 2021 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c6nlKe-6Ifw&t=82s); “Cocktails and Crankshafts: Cheryl Linn Glass Special” (video), YouTube website accessed June 15, 2021 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q9p-vokEcY4).