Editor's note: This story was originally published on July 3.
As Desiree Myers, 25, and her mother got out of the car to visit the Brookshire Community annual yard sale in Manheim, a thought crossed her mind.
“How weird would it be if I found a wedding dress here?” Myers of Hagerstown, Maryland, said to her mother as they got out of the car.
That’s exactly what ended up happening for the bride-to-be on June 5.
The day before, Myers had gone wedding dress shopping in Maryland with her maid of honor and soon-to-be mother-in-law. She was looking for a modest dress but was frustrated because she couldn't find anything at the local shop that suited her. So, she decided to go to a boutique in Lancaster County the next day while she was in the area visiting her family.
Myers was looking for a dress with a higher neck line, lace with different layers, a moderate sized train, a little bit of a sleeve and something that wouldn’t require a lot of alterations.
Aware that many shops require appointments, she checked the Lancaster County boutique's website and it said nothing about making an appointment. But as she approached the store front with her mom, they saw a sign on the door saying, “Appointments only.”
Although slightly disappointed, she remembered that Brookshire Community had their community yard sale the first weekend of every June. So, she decided to take a break from the wedding shopping and instead go yard-saleing.
“I’ve always enjoyed yard-saleing,” Myers said. “Especially with my mom.”
She parked in the first spot she found and they started walking towards the closest lawn, where Mary Gruber, 58, in a perfect series of circumstances, had put her wedding dress out for sale.
Gruber, of Penryn, has been spending every winter in Maine with her husband for many years, and this past September they discovered there was a piece of property for sale close to where they normally stay.
Gruber’s job had been going through transitions and she needed to reapply for the job she already had. After reapplying, going through the interview process and retaining her job, the couple spontaneously decided to make the move to Maine.
“I always said I’ll know when it’s time to leave work and go somewhere else,” Gruber said.
As Gruber prepared to move, she began cleaning out her house in preparation for two yard sales - one that she would be having in her front lawn, and another at a friend’s lawn. Her best friend came over to help with cleaning out the house and Gruber found her perfectly sealed wedding dress in a plastic bag and box.
Together, they opened up the box and took a knife to the sealed plastic bag, revealing a nearly 40-year-old wedding dress in perfect condition.
"[It] looked like the day I wore it,” Gruber said.
Although Gruber was hesitant, she decided she would try to sell her wedding dress at the yard sales, but no one was interested during the first yard sale.
She piled everything she hadn’t sold into her car to take to her friend’s home in Brookshire Community, a 55-and-older community in Manheim. As she prepared for the yard sale the next morning, she realized she had left the wedding dress in the basement. She wiggled it into the front seat, partially on her lap.
“It fit just barely,” Gruber said. “I could see just enough to drive.”
Gruber sat her wedding dress out on the lawn in a white cardboard display box that was about the size of a large suitcase with a sign that said “make an offer.”
As Myers and her mom approached the first yard sale, they saw a huge white box.
“Is that what I think it is?” Myers remembered saying to her mom.
The box sat there trying not to blow over, and not a single person looked at it until 10 a.m. when Myers and her mother walked up and stopped by the wedding dress giggling.
“What’s so funny about the dress?” Gruber thought as she walked over to the potential buyers.
Myers looked into the display window of the wedding dress box and could tell she really liked the neckline. She also noted that she could see lace on the dress, and she wanted a wedding dress made entirely of lace.
When Gruber walked over to see if Myers and her mother were possibly interested in buying her wedding dress, she offered to take it out of the box. Myers’ mom welled up with tears, Gruber said.
“When Mary first pulled it out of the box,” Myers said, “I was like, this is the one.”
Myers and her mother told Gruber about how they had been shopping for a modest wedding dress and wanted to visit a boutique in Lancaster, but the boutique required appointments and Myers was only here for the weekend.
Gruber told them, “You know, God brought you here.”
Myers was able to try the dress on in the house of the woman who had hosted the yard sale where Gruber had set up shop. As soon as Myers was wearing the dress, the women outside were knocking on the door, asking to see it on her.
“She looked beautiful,” Gruber said. “I couldn’t believe it... It fit her.”
“[I] basically decided that I wanted it right there in some stranger's spare room,” Myers said. “It’s such a crazy story.”
The dress surprisingly fit and will only need minimal alterations, Myers said. She is planning to have it taken in a little bit and add a little sleeve underneath the lace sleeve. Aside from those minor alterations, she said the dress was perfect.
“To think about how people spend hundreds, thousands on a dress... to be able to find it all in one box, I felt like it was just packaged there for me,” Myers said.
Myers paid Gruber $70 for the dress even though Gruber insisted that was too much, Gruber said.
"I would've been happy with $25," Gruber said.
Gruber said that both her and her husband feel that this is one of many signs from God that it is time to move.
Myers will be marrying Thomas Harris on August 24, which is also Gruber’s deceased in-law's wedding anniversary.
“We just so need to thank God,” Myers said. “On my way up that morning, I was just praying. I really want to find a wedding dress that I don't have to piece together to try and make it look modest but that it's just already gorgeous.”