For many women, choosing a wedding dress is a big deal. First of all, you have to decide how much cash you’re willing to splash on an outfit you’ll probably only wear once: over £800 (the average spend in 2017), or under £35 (from Boohoo’s bridal range)?
Then you have to figure out what kind of bride you even want to be. Elegant and classic in white à la Pippa Middleton, all-out bohemian glam like Dianna Agron, or Solange Knowles-style sharp and chic?
All in all, it’s a bit of a minefield, so we understand why many brides-to-be ask their close friends or family for advice before making the big decision. Or, in the case of one 93-year-old Australian woman, ask the entire internet - and become a viral sensation.
Retiree Sylvia Martin recently popped into Birdsnest clothes shop in the Canberra suburb of Coomba. Accompanied by her bridesmaids, she explained to shop staff that she had to choose a dress for her upcoming wedding to her friend of more than 20 years, 88-year-old Frank Raymond.
A Facebook post shared by Birdsnest, showing Sylvia modelling four different ruby-red dress options, has gone viral, with more than 9,000 people ‘voting’ for their favourite in the comments.
Frank had asked Sylvia to marry him “many times”, according to the Birdsnest post, but she had always said no. Mistakenly believing that women in Australia still had to change their surname to their husband’s upon marriage, she thought it would be disrespectful to her late husband for her to take Frank’s name.
In 2016 Sylvia fell ill, and relocated from Tasmania to Canberra to be closer to her family.
“Frank thought all hope was lost,” wrote the Birdsnest staff. “[But] when Sylvia recovered, she found Frank, who was living in Adelaide, and convinced him to move to Canberra to be with her.”
After moving into the same Canberra retirement village as Sylvia, Frank proposed one final time. Having learned that she could get married without changing her surname, Sylvia said yes.
Watch: The 7 worst things about being a bridesmaid
Penny Carroll, Birdsnest’s marketing manager, tells The Canberra Times that the shop has been overwhelmed by the outpouring of love for Sylvia.
“The response to our Facebook post has just been incredible,” she says. “It’s such a beautiful and happy story… We just hope Sylvia and Frank have a wonderful day.”
Despite overwhelming votes for dress option D in the comments on Birdsnest’s Facebook post, Sylvia eventually settled on option C: a simple ruby-red number with a round neckline and three-quarter length sleeves. Proving once and for all that when it comes to choosing a wedding dress, you’ve got to go with your gut.
Main image: facebook.com/birdsnest.com.au