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the story behind the vintage wedding fur stole.

The story behind the vintage Arnold Constable & Company fur stole gifted for our vintage-inspired fall wedding | by Meghan Kennedy 1/5/2023

bride and groom kissing outside of wedding venue with champagne flutes

I always say I was raised by a tribe and that is thanks to the nurturing love and endless support of our SUMC church family. Even into adulthood all my "aunts" and "uncles" who aren't really my aunts and uncles have continued to bless and enrich my life and now Ryan's too. We began planning our wedding back in 2021 after our July engagement. We started by selecting our venue and photographer first - opting for a November date to usher in the holiday season as husband and wife.

Getting married in November and walking to/from the church and venue - I knew I'd need a little fur to keep me warm! Ironically - one of my church aunts, Carol G had a surprise waiting for me.

bride walking out of venue with bridal party in a vintage fur stole

Tucked in the back of her closet was her late Mother, Irene Evelynne Polansek's vintage fur stole - in mint condition no less. When Carol found it - she knew I had to have it. Little did she know I was on the hunt for one already - a match made in heaven, literally! Carol's Mom, Irene worked for Arnold Constable & Company as a Junior Buyer when Carol was in high school in the 1950s. At one point Arnold Constable & Company was the oldest department store in America - operating for over 150 years from its founding in 1825 to its closing in 1975.

Irene loved her job and was a true fashionista long before it was trendy for women to work.

Arnold Constable had two locations in NJ - one being in New Brunswick where Irene ended up being the store manager. Irene went into the NYC location on 5th Avenue once a month to buy for her department.

arnold constable vintage fifth avenue label tag

When her Mother would go into the city, she would order and send clothes back for Carol. Carol shared that she especially loved Thursdays because Thursday was payday and that meant her Mom would bring home something fabulous for her to wear to school on Friday - how fun! Carol's family lived in South River and she remembers having a babysitter growing up, so her Mother could work - a lifestyle that was not common for mid-century women.

I can't help but think of the sacrifices and hurdles Irene endured working full-time - challenging the narrative of the "stay-at-home" Mother. Carol shared such fond memories of her Mother and learned from a young age to chase what you love and not be afraid of hard work.

monogrammed vintage fur stole

Carol graciously passed along her Mother's opera glasses and gloves to me as well- two treasures that also appeared on our wedding day.

I feel so honored and humbled to share the stories and legacies of women who have walked before me. Women who shaped, changed, and challenged history. Wearing Irene's fur on our wedding day was extra sentimental - sharing her story is just as special.

A note about Carol - she is one of the bravest, kindest, and sweetest women you will ever meet. She always has a smile on her face and a warm hug to give. She too has an amazing journey and story to share! An important reminder - that we all have a story to tell. Take time to share your stories with your family, friends, and coworkers. Sparking conversation leads to connection - and at the heart of the human experience.. isn't that what we're all searching for? Cheers, Meghan

photos: @laurabriggsphoto @lucid.ladybug | all rights reserved.

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Jan 06

I have a mink stole that I use as a bed jacket when reading in bed on our occasional frosty evenings. Three cheers for repurposing.

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