For the most part, the majority of traditional wedding dresses are made using one of six popular fabrics.
But for one bride, the fabric used to make her wedding dress was anything but traditional. Ruth Hensinger used her husband’s WWII parachute.
During a mission in August 1944, the engine on the plane Major Claude Hensinger, a B-29 pilot, was in caught fire. He and his crew were forced to bail out over unoccupied China.
Hensinger and his crew survived, though the B-29 pilot suffered a few minor injuries. Eventually the crew gathered and made it back to base where Hensinger mailed his bloodied parachute back home to his mother.
Hensinger kept the parachute that saved his life.
After the war, Hensinger returned home to Pennsylvania, and he began dating Ruth, whom he had known since the two were little.
About a year into their relationship, the WWII veteran handed Ruth a box, but inside wasn’t a ring.
“I’d like to have you make a wedding dress out of my parachute. It saved my life,” he said.
Hensinger proposed to Ruth by asking her to make a wedding dress out of his parachute.
An unusual fabric
Ruth was happy to marry Hensinger, but also a little worried about the thought of turning his nylon parachute into a gorgeous wedding gown.
“How am I going to make a gown out of 16 gores of nylon, and all that bias?” she told Patch.com in 2011.
Ruth found inspiration from a dress she came across in the window of a department store and managed to create a stunning multi-tiered wedding dress.
“He didn’t see it until I walked down the aisle,” she said. “He was happy with it.”
On July 19, 1947, Ruth walked down the aisle wearing Claude’s parachute. The dress was such a hit that the couple’s daughter and daughter-in-law both wore the dress for their weddings.
The couple was married for 49 years before Claude died in 1996.
In the early 1990s, she sent her wedding dress to Smithsonian Institution after they requested items made from WWII era parachutes. Ruth’s wedding dress was displayed at several exhibits over the years.
This wedding dress is gorgeous and what a beautiful story behind it too!
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