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Store window display solves missing wedding dress mystery

LE MARS, Iowa (AP) — Katie Majeres didn't know if she'd ever see her wedding dress again.

After getting married in it in 2001, the rural Le Mars woman lent the dress to her sister, Kasie, of Rochester, Minn., who wore it in her 2005 wedding.

That event seven years ago was the last time Katie saw it.

Until last week.

The story starts in 2005, when Kasie told Katie she brought the dress to the cleaners after the wedding.

"She probably told me where," Katie said, adding that she imagined someone else would probably pick the dress up and return it to her.

Life got busy. Days, weeks, months passed. The dress was forgotten for a time.

"A couple of years later, I thought to myself, 'I don't remember ever getting my wedding dress back,'" Katie said. "It was just not something that crossed my mind."

Growing up, she and her family usually brought dry cleaning items to Ideal Cleaners, in Le Mars, Katie said.

Imagining the dress might be there, she called Ideal Cleaners up and asked if they had a wedding gown under her name.

The said no.

"I gave them my mom's name, our maiden name, everything, but they didn't have it," Katie said. "I was kind of sick about it."

She decided maybe the dress was tucked away in her home's attic or in storage somewhere.

"My husband and I had plans to build a house, and I thought maybe when we moved it would show up," she said. "Well, we moved about one year ago, and it never showed up. I thought, 'where in the heck is my wedding dress.' "

She called her sister again, asking her about it, and Kasie said she knew she'd taken it to a dry cleaner.

"It was one of those things, that now being seven years later, it was hard to remember," Katie said.

Recently, the dress came up in Katie's mind again with her daughter Isabelle's 10th birthday coming up in March.

"I wanted to get a picture of her in my wedding dress, and maybe I could use it to display at her wedding or other things in the future," Katie explained. "I kind of went on a rampage looking for it."

She called her sister again, asking if maybe it had gone to a dry cleaner in Rochester.

Then Kasie remembered she might have taken it to Claussen's clothing store in Le Mars, which also offers dry cleaning.

"That was on a weekend, then the week came, and I never took care of it," Katie said.

Life continued to be busy for Katie and her family, and the dress stayed missing in action.

Then recently, Katie and her husband John were on their way home after playing dodgeball at the Le Mars YMCA.

They were driving along Plymouth Street in downtown Le Mars when suddenly Katie cried out.

A lovely ivory wedding gown glowed in the window of Claussen's store.

"I said, 'You've gotta go back. I've got to see if that's my dress,'" Katie said.

She got out of the car and crossed the street to look closer at the dress.

"I was just flabbergasted. I just knew it was my dress," Katie said. "It's hard to describe my excitement. It took my breath away."

And the reunion had an added sweetness factor — it was her husband's birthday that day.

The next morning, Katie called Claussen's.

"I told the gal, 'I know this is a funny story, but I think that's my wedding dress in your window,'" Katie said. "She said, 'Oh my goodness — it's the bride!"

Claussen's employees told Katie they'd been trying to find the bride who went with the dress for the past seven years.

Stacey Mahlke, a sales associate at Claussen's, said after years of wondering whose dress it was, they finally decided to take it out of the box this year.

Before this, they'd done everything they could to track down the bride.

"We even searched the name on the box on Google and Facebook," Stacey said.

Because it was Katie's sister's name, that search lead them nowhere.

It was very unusual to have a dry cleaned wedding dress not get picked up, Stacey said.

"We thought maybe there were bad memories or something," she said. "Who leaves their wedding dress?"

Finally, they decided to unbox the dress, just to take a peek.

"At first we just wanted to see what it looked like," Stacey said. "Then when we saw how pretty it was, we wanted to make a window out of it."

With the Le Mars Bridal Expo in February, they arranged the dress with some of the tuxedos Claussen's rents for formal events.

"When we were putting it up, we said, 'What if we actually found the bride for the dress?' but we didn't really think we would," Stacey said. "Lo and behold, a few days after we put it up, she walked in."

The funny thing is Katie is a regular customer at Claussen's, and her missing dress had been in the store just a few feet away from her the whole time, Stacey said.

"If we hadn't opened it and put it in the window, she wouldn't have found it," she said. "''It's a fun story of how a wedding dress found its way home."

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.

Denton (Denny) Newman Jr.
I've worked at the Brainerd Dispatch with various duties since Dec. 7, 1983. Starting off as an Ad Designer and currently Director of Audience Development. The Dispatch has been an interesting and challenging place to work. I'm fortunate to have made many friends, both co-workers and customers.
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