Twenty-six years after Ohio resident Sharyl Kittel picked up her wedding dress from the dry cleaning shop that had preserved it, she opened the box and made a shocking discovery: The wedding dress in the box wasn't hers.
Back in 1987, a year after her wedding at Milford First United Methodist Church in Milford, Ohio, Kittel decided to preserve her dress to ensure that it would remain in pristine condition and could serve as a memento from her special day. She brought the $300 white lace, appliqué gown to a now-closed dry cleaner near her home and one month later, she picked it up. "When I got the dress, I saw that it came with a mini box, which the salesperson told me contained my veil," Kittel tells Yahoo Shine. "I didn't want to open the box because it was heavily preserved in clear plastic, so I took it home and put it in the closet. Each time my family moved, the box came with us."
Kittel, 45, decided to finally open the box last month, because her 26-year-old daughter, Tiffany, is getting married in May and Kittel planned to incorporate a piece of the dress into Tiffany's veil. "I thought we would have a laugh because the dress is totally 1980s, with poofy sleeves," says Kittel.
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She opened the little box first, and her heart sank as the contents revealed handmade baby clothes, a christening outfit, and booties. "I thought, 'OK, maybe the smaller box isn't mine, but the big one has to be,'" she says. But when she opened the larger box, she was heartbroken to discover a dress that she had never seen before — an ivory gown with a long, lace train. "It looked like it was from the 1960s, and the tag said, 'Miss Betsy,'" explains Kittel. "It's beautiful but it's not mine. My husband was baffled as well."
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Initially upset at the discovery, Kittel is now concerned with finding the dress's rightful owner. "These are someone's missing memories and I hope I can make that person happy by returning it." Kittel posted photos of the mystery dress on Facebook, hoping that the post would be shared and someone with information about the owner might come forward. So far, no luck.
To prevent a similar mishap from occurring, Lenny Weiss, an associate at the National Cleaner's Association in New York City, has a few suggestions, although, he says, dry cleaner mix-ups don't happen that often. "Customers can always request to see the dress in person before it's boxed or for the dry cleaner to attach a photo of the dress to the outside of the box," he tells Yahoo Shine. "And if you can, choose a dry cleaner that cleans in-house, as opposed to it sending the item to a third-party preservation business. Your dry cleaner may not even realize the dress is missing, since it would also be returned to him boxed up."
Kittel says that if she can't find the owner, she'll keep the gown. "My 3-year-old granddaughter loves it," she says. "Maybe we'll find a use for it."
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