Thursday, January 18, 2018
Bizarre News

Two brides find missing wedding dresses 10 years later

Eight-year-old Braden had a proposal for his parents after seeing their wedding pictures through the glass of the curio cabinet.

"Why don't you guys get married again?" Braden asked last summer. Everyone else was in the pictures, and he wanted to be in them, too.

It was decided: for their ninth anniversary, Marie Keeney and her husband, Shawn, would renew their wedding vows in November so their son could be a part of their special day.

Keeney, 45, began making plans. She arranged for Braden to walk her down the aisle in a ceremony held in her backyard once again, all to relive her wedding day for her son.

The only thing left to re-create her big day was to dig out from her closet the sleek, simple ivory wedding dress she fell in love with a decade ago.

"It's perfect," Keeney said. "Not too froo-froo and girly."

With a little more than a month to go until the ceremony, she hauled the bulky cardboard box downstairs and broke the seal of the preservation packaging, opening the dress her husband had sent off to a dry cleaner years before.

To her surprise, the front of the dress was simple and elegant, clean of any ornaments. Instead of a bare back, buttons lined the spine of the dress. Three bustles replaced the three small roses she remembered being pinned just above the skirt of the dress.

The gown was not hers.

All of Keeney's planning came to a halt. She canceled invitations, but most of all, she was heartbroken: Her beautiful ivory gown was gone.

"It made me cry," she said. "And I never cry."

So Keeney began investigating. She traced the dress to where her husband dropped it off to be preserved at Eagle Cleaners, 301 W Platt St., in downtown Tampa. Then she learned that it had been outsourced to Wedding Gown Preservation Co. in New York.

Keeney started to lose hope worrying she would never find her dress again. But even though she deemed her dress gone, she at least wanted to return the dress she had to its owner. She posted pictures on Facebook and even looked up other stories on the Internet of women around the country who experienced a similar ordeal.

"I figured I could at least get back her dress even if I couldn't find mine," she said.

After no one had answers, Keeney reached out to the media for help. ABC Action News WFTS-TV 28 reported the story last month to help her retrieve her dress.

A few days after the story aired, the preservation company found her dress and shipped it back to Eagle Cleaners. "I think it's a miracle," she said. "I can't believe I got my dress back."

• • •

Keeney handed over the dress with hopes that another woman would be just as lucky.

Eagle Cleaners owner David Costa explained that around the time Keeney dropped off her dress, Wedding Gown Preservation Co. lost track of another bride's dress and mixed up the invoices. The other woman was Katherine Stephenson.

He said it was the first mix-up in 13 years of business.

In a tale of two dresses, the two women lived just 3 miles apart in Pinellas County; both had 8-year-old sons. Based on wedding photos as evidence, even their bouquets matched. And they both picked the same dry cleaners across the bay in downtown Tampa.

Stephenson reconciled 10 years ago with the fact that her dress had disappeared. At the time, she was preoccupied with family and health issues.

The missing dress slipped to the back of her mind as time went on, until she saw two missed calls on her cellphone from her mother-in-law with urgent news.

The Tampa Bay Times had contacted her mother-in-law, Debe Stephenson, looking for a Katherine Stephenson who was missing a wedding gown. There was a match: within an hour, Debe relayed the good news to her daughter-in-law.

Stephenson would be reunited with her long-lost gown, the only tangible memory to a time before she lost her grandfather, father, brother and a family friend.

"Several people at that wedding are not with us anymore," she said. "It will be really nice to have something special from a time when they were all in our lives."

Stephenson returned to Eagle Cleaners to pick up her dress last week. It had been gingerly placed in the same box Keeney sent it back in.

She hoisted the dress, admiring the billowing bustles in the back and reminiscing about her wedding day in 2001.

A worker asked if she wanted to send the dress back to be preserved again for no charge. Stephenson hesitated and smiled.

"Now that it's open I can show my husband and son," she said. "I totally get why (Keeney) wanted to do it again."

• • •

The party is back on. The Keeneys' ceremony has since been postponed for their 10th anniversary this November. And Keeney will once again walk down the aisle in the elegant gown she fell in love with a decade ago, her son by her side.

Her dress still fits.

"They say it's bad luck to wear your dress twice," Keeney said, smiling. "But I don't believe any of that."

Contact Colleen Wright [email protected] or (727) 893-8313. Follow her on Twitter @Colleen_Wright.

Comments
Thanks Twitter: Fakesters pose as jackpot winner Shane Missler

Thanks Twitter: Fakesters pose as jackpot winner Shane Missler

Jackpot winner and Florida man Shane Missler wants to leave behind a legacy with his winnings.But he won’t be doing that by doling out cash to Twitter followers.PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Florida man, 20, claims $450M Mega Millions jackpotAn account cunningl...
Published: 01/16/18

Florida man robbed at gunpoint in dating app setup

PANAMA CITY, Fla. — Florida police say a man thought he was going on a date set through an app, but instead was attacked and robbed at gunpoint.Police say a 21-year-old Taborice Lee Foster lured his target using Grindr, a dating app for gay men. When...
Published: 01/14/18
Tide Pod Challenge: Why teens and internet celebs risk their lives by eating them

Tide Pod Challenge: Why teens and internet celebs risk their lives by eating them

A new internet trend has parents worrying more about their teenagers ingesting laundry soap than their unknowing toddlers. It started as a joke: memes circulating on the web, poking fun at the fact that the squishy, brightly colored laundry pods loo...
Published: 01/12/18

Bathroom behavior got this Florida man kicked off his flight

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Frequent flyer tip: if you’re going to use the airplane bathroom make sure your aim is good. Otherwise it could get you kicked off the flight.Flight attendants say Dante Bencivenga used the bathroom on a Spirit airlines flight befo...
Published: 01/07/18
Florida man calls 911 to report...himself drunk driving

Florida man calls 911 to report...himself drunk driving

WINTER HAVEN, Fla. (AP) — Authorities in Florida are sharing an unusual 911 call they got on New Year’s Eve from a man who said he was driving drunk and needed police. Polk County Sheriff’s officials say the dispatcher "did a fantastic job" urging Mi...
Published: 01/06/18
A small bird managed to take over a Delta flight

A small bird managed to take over a Delta flight

On late Saturday morning, a bird flew out of the cold Detroit sky, across an airfield and into the cockpit of a jetliner bound south for Atlanta.Some believe it was a sparrow. Some, a hummingbird. A Delta Air Lines spokesman referred to it only as "s...
Updated one month ago
Woman gets $284 billion electric bill, wonders whether it’s her Christmas lights

Woman gets $284 billion electric bill, wonders whether it’s her Christmas lights

What can you buy with $284 billion?You could own all of Netflix. Or purchase 747 Boeing 747s, with change to spare. Or erase the national debts of Venezuela, Nigeria, Peru and Iceland, combined.Or, if you’re Mary Horomanski, you could pay for one mon...
Updated one month ago
Package for Steven Mnuchin that causes a bomb scare turns out to be filled with horse manure

Package for Steven Mnuchin that causes a bomb scare turns out to be filled with horse manure

A suspicious package that appeared Saturday night in the swanky Los Angeles neighborhood of Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin prompted lengthy street closures and a sizable response by local and federal authorities, including members of the Los Angel...
Updated one month ago

Florida man fighting for his life after chasing monkey

DESTIN, Fla. — A Florida man now living in Bali is fighting for his life after he fell from a roof while chasing a monkey that had stolen his favorite Pittsburgh Steelers cap.The Northwest Florida Daily News reported that Jeff "Swede" Swedenhjelm fel...
Updated one month ago
Florida man arrested for calling 911 to complain about small restaurant portions

Florida man arrested for calling 911 to complain about small restaurant portions

STUART, Fla. — A Florida man complaining about his dinner to police has landed in trouble.The 51-year-old man was charged with misusing the emergency 911 line after he called dispatchers twice to complain about the size of the meal served to him at C...
Updated one month ago