What Will It Be?

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First Posted: 12/2/2014

It is the bride’s day and it is all about the gown. There are multiple television shows that dedicate a half-hour showing about how hard it is to find the perfect wedding dress. “Something Borrowed, Something New” on TLC adds another element of stress to the dress shopping experience. Instead of choosing among hundreds of new, bedazzled gowns, the brides-to-be are able to choose between a new designer dress or a re-imagined heirloom. It is hosted by Kelly Nishimoto and Sam Saboura.

Before Catherine “Cat” Grey, of Forty Fort, said her “I do’s,” the bride got the chance of a lifetime to make her wedding one-of-a-kind when she and her mother-in-law, Sally Stravinski, of Mountain Top, opened a 32 year-old box in Stravinski’s attic.

Grey and her then finance, attended an ’80s party last January and her mother-in-law joked she had some ’70s prom dresses for her to wear. It was the wise crack which led to the perfect opportunity for “Something Borrowed, Something New.”

“The whole thing started as a joke,” Stravinski said. “She said the dress would be perfect for the party because of the style and she decided to try it on. Then it fit her and we were all in fits of laughter and taking pictures.” Stravinski’s dress was a time machine. The long sleeves could only be paired with hair sprayed-to-heaven high. Even Sally knew it was a testament to the decade and a dress which should be worn only once. Several decades ago.

“I sent the pictures of Cat in the dress to my sisters and nieces, laughing, that she was going to wear the dress for her wedding,” Stravinski said. “I never thought it would lead to the actual possibility.”

Grey sent in an application to “Something Borrowed, Something New,” and was first informed the show wasn’t casting. A couple of weeks went by and TLC contacted Cat, telling her to reapply. The lengthy application process included Skype interviews and multiple forms to fill out. The women had to send in pictures of the original dress to validate Sally wore it at her wedding and it wasn’t a thrift-store gem. The show was filmed in four days but the whole process took four months.

“They told me to send some pictures of the dress and of me and Mike and tell them something interesting about us,” Grey said. “I told them how we were both competitive bodybuilders.”

The couple have known each other “forever” she stated. The two knew each other since grade school but did not start dating until the end of college. Stravinski is a part-time bodybuilder and Grey got into the sport two years into their relationship.

“I figured if I wanted to spend more time with him then I had to get in to the gym,” she said. “And then I loved it as much as he did.” Her husband-to-be was apprehensive of the show but followed his vows and stood behind his wife.

“Mike is very reserved,” Grey said. “He is a man of few words. The only time he is on the show is at the wedding and in pictures, but he was very supportive and knew I wanted to do the show with his mom. It was a great bonding experience for her and I.”

Stravinski agrees and believes the show liked how they were different then others on the show.

“Most of the time it is the mother’s dress getting modernized and it is much more emotional,” she said. “Since I am her mother-in-law, that was not the norm. Also, the whole experience was all in good fun. There was no pressure for her to wear my dress. I wanted her to have fun and make great memories. It was her day.”

TLC flew Grey and her “entourage” to Beverly Hills for the transformation and a little bit of dress shopping. The entourage included Stravinski, Grey, Grey’s best friend, Samantha Krawzcuk and her sister-in-law, Nicole Stravinski. They sent Stravinski’s dress a month prior to filming but all the alterations and changes were done in the four days.

“We shopped at Panache Bridal Salon in Beverly Hills,” Grey said. “I did the show for the experience of it and it was amazing. I was going to have to buy a wedding dress at some point, so if someone wanted to pay for me and my friends to go cross country for a dress, then why not. I had nothing to lose and only had a great time.”

Grey’s mother was very excited for her daughter and supportive of the show. However, she has a terrible fear of flying and was not able to make the trip.

“It was great to surprise her on my wedding day,” Grey said. “That was the first time she saw the dress. It was hard to keep it all a secret but was cool to show everyone the final result at the big day.”