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Her vow to continue wearing this wedding dress sparked a sweet travel tradition




(CNN) – Samantha Mathew’s personal handmade item on international flights is often very personal: her wedding dress.

“Usually we only do it in a vacuum seal bag … and it basically comes out with a new look,” said Mathew, who passes by Sam.

Or almost. According to his calculation, the dress has been in 13 countries since her wedding in May 2018.

“Right now, it’s a little dirty. We’ve taken a lot of places. So it’s not completely new, but it comes out presentable.”

The dress appears as part of a tradition she and her husband, Andrew Mathew, both 29, have adopted to celebrate their marriage and their love of travel. They’ve put up honeymoon and birthday photos in front of some of the world’s most recognizable landmarks, the gassy suit that revolves around Sam.

It is a tradition born of his desire to wear the robe as much as possible.

Spending a lot of money on a suit she would wear only once seemed very impractical to Sam, a behavioral analyst who works with children with developmental disabilities. Initially, she hoped to buy a used or very cheap dress, but her mother had other ideas.

“I wanted her to have the dress of my dreams, and I kept telling her I don’t have a‘ dress of my dreams, ’but she insisted enough not to get a used dress,” Sam said. “She wanted it to be mine, so maybe if one day I have a daughter I can take her or play dress her up or whatever.”

Samantha and Andrew Mathew pose in front of Abu Simbel in Egypt during their 2021 birthday trip.

Samantha and Andrew Mathew pose in front of Abu Simbel in Egypt during their 2021 birthday trip.

Courtesy of Samantha Mathew


Looking for: wedding dress. It has to travel well


They went to buy dresses, where Sam tried on “big fluffy dresses” and his eyes appeared at prices of up to $ 6,000. Her mother fell in love with a flowing silk dress in the 1920s Hollywood style that cost about $ 5,000.

Sam couldn’t do it and decided that if there was an expensive suit on the cards (hers would cost about $ 1,300, she remembers), she would definitely wear it more than once.

She and Andrew, a family medicine doctor, decided to hold small wedding celebrations at each of their many honeymoon destinations, with photos to capture those moments, and finally decided on the idea of ​​traveling in the dress for to annual birthday trips.

The search for a dress continued, with specific requirements.

Sam walked into a store and said to the saleswoman, “Well, I’m actually looking for something that goes well. So if I need to … wrap it in a ball and wrap it in a bag, it’ll come out well “. And I remember it gave me that look like I was crazy, ”he said.

At the Acropolis of Athens, photos of the wedding dress were captured by local staff, but the couple turned to this more distant point of view.

At the Acropolis of Athens, local personalities withdrew photos of the wedding dresses, but the couple turned to this more distant point of view.

Courtesy of Samantha Mathew

But she found a dress (an ivory chiffon dress with a lace bodice by Essense from Australia) that suited her body type and met the most important travel requirements.

She and her husband wanted the wedding to be simple. He was about to begin his medical residency in Los Angeles after many years of study at the University of Miami, where the two met.

“I’m not one of those people who dreamed of my wedding since I was little, so the smaller the better for me. And Andrew didn’t want anything big either. In fact, he just wanted to travel,” she said.

They ended up having two small weddings: an official wedding at the church outside of Dallas, where her husband has family, and a gathering of friends and family in South Florida, where Sam is from. And they devoted much of their time and resources to a three-week whirlwind honeymoon, with the dress on top.


Moments of a marriage


They covered a lot of ground during their honeymoon: London, Marrakech, Rome, the Masai Mara of Kenya, Bali, Bangkok and Beijing.

The first time Sam changed her dress in public was during a 12-hour stay in London, where the couple posed at various popular venues.

“When we were in front of Buckingham Palace, we actually brought in a group of other tourists, who fixed my hair and put on my dress and made us do different postures, which I thought was fun.”

During their honeymoon, the photos in front of London’s Buckingham Palace were designed by other tourists.

During their honeymoon, the photographs in front of London’s Buckingham Palace were designed by other tourists.

Courtesy of Samantha Mathew

With two more completed birthday trips, Sam has managed quite a bit to get the dress on the go. Wear pants or shorts and a white tank top or sports bra for a quick bridal transformation.

“Then we’d take a few photos, we’d say nice things to each other – do our little ceremony,” he said. Their social media accounts are private and “tradition is really something just for us, for our families and close friends, and hopefully someday also for the family we create together.”

At first, Andrew wore a dress jacket for his little ceremonies, but is now more inclined to put Sam and the dress in the spotlight.

“Right now he’d rather be the photographer than be in the pictures,” Sam said. “I always take one with me because that’s the kind of memory I want to have.”

Sometimes people stare, sometimes viewers style the couple and take pictures. Overall, the reception as you travel has been positive.

“Everyone has been very helpful,” Sam said. There have only been two occasions when the tradition of dressing was swept away by staff in iconic places they have visited. Machu Picchu in Peru and the Acropolis of Athens, although in Athens they were directed to a more distant place overlooking the Parthenon.

The couple’s second wedding anniversary in May 2020 was celebrated at home in Los Angeles.

The couple’s second wedding anniversary in May 2020 was celebrated at home in Los Angeles.

Courtesy of Samantha Mathew


A flexible tradition


In 2019, the couple celebrated their birthday in Costa Rica. Last year, with the raging pandemic, the couple took birthday photos at their home in the Los Angeles subway area, where they now live, with toilet paper and other sought-after supplies.

This year, fully vaccinated with two months off (Sam’s change of job coincided with the end of Andrew’s residency), the couple took a two-stage birthday trip. Two weeks in Peru, a few days at home, and then almost six weeks playing ping-pong around the world in Italy, Jordan, Egypt, Kenya, Greece and Croatia.

Although they are not the ones who repeat destinations, they revisited Italy and Kenya because they loved these countries very much and were open to visitors. “It was different, but it was still possible,” Sam said of international travel in 2021.

She and Andrew don’t have any international travel reserved for them or the dress yet, ”but the plan is to go ahead and take it off and let it breathe as much as possible until maybe it’s just a piece left.

“And then maybe we can sew this on our daughter’s dress or put it in a frame. I don’t know, do something about it,” Sam said.

There must be more memories of this very well traveled and well worn dress.