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A handsewn dress and new Army uniform outfit couple for a beautiful Nebraska wedding |

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The whole wedding dress affair — the one involving silk and design sketches and a sewing machine — began with a compromise.

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It may also have had something to do with the federal government, or whoever in that deep well of bureaucracy decided the U.S. Army should issue new uniforms, the pinks and greens of the World War II era to honor that part of America’s heritage.

Frankly, the whirlwind of thread and fabric in a three-month time span was likely as much Cicely Wardyn’s childhood as anything, growing up on a farm near Lexington where she learned to sew in 4-H, wrestling with a sewing machine at her aunt’s house.

That, and the fact that the assistant director of the Nebraska Department of Agriculture who spent a few years working in Sen. Deb Fischer’s office in Washington before coming back to Nebraska to earn her master’s degree, comes from a long line of stubborn women.

Wardyn began to sketch the dress she wanted in August. Then, she got a sewing machine at her mother’s house and made her wedding dress.

Despite the fact that she had never sewn since highschool, it didn’t matter.



Cicely Wardyn sketched the dress before she sew it. The heart-shaped pin cushion was one of her first 4-H sewing projects, the thimble was her grandma’s, and the little trimmer scissors belonged to her great-grandma.



No matter her social calendar in the three months of planning before her wedding — four other weddings, two out of state, one out of the country, Thanksgiving, a Broadway show at the Orpheum, a new job that took her on a trade trip to Germany and helping at her family’s farm — meant lots of weekends she should have been sewing but wasn’t.

“I’m just stubborn and decided I’d figure it out,”She spoke. “It was kind of a big puzzle. It was more just me seeing if I could do it, to prove that I could do it.”

Cicely Batie married Daniel Wardyn on December 1, an intimate affair at Sherman County Courthouse. This grand old stone edifice was built in 1921 and features a marble staircase, wood beams, and a marble staircase.

The groom — a first lieutenant in the Army reserves — wore a newly issued uniform that harkened back to the Greatest Generation, and the bride wore a silk gown reminiscent of the sleek simplicity of women’s fashion in the 1940s (with the possible exception of that low back).

It was beautiful.

* * *

The story begins six years earlier when Cicely and Dan met at a mutual friend’s wedding. She was living in D.C. and wasn’t much interested in him. He was persistent, and they began dating in earnest when she moved back to Nebraska to work on her master’s degree in 2019.

Cicely accepted a job in the state ag department in June. However, she did not tell her boss that she needed to take time off because her boyfriend insisted that they go to Alaska. (Cicely says that her husband has a stubborn streak, which eventually led to the need for compromise).

Cicely recalls her boyfriend being uncharacteristically rough and went with her boss to Alaska.

They took a midnight hike in order to see the sunset (which is when sun sets in Alaska). It was stunning, but she’d had it with the attitude.



Cicely Wardyn wedding dress

Cicely Wardyn and Daniel were married Dec. 1 at Sherman County Courthouse, Loup City.



“I said ‘Why are you being so weird? You could be a little more romantic,’ and he said ‘How’s this for romantic?’ and I turn around and he’s on his knees with a ring.”

She said yes, he became his normal self (minus the pre-proposal-hope-this-plan-works nerves) and now all they had to do was plan a wedding.

Dan, a traveling nursing assistant who was working in COVID-19 ICU units throughout the country, traveled to the Mayo Clinic, Minnesota. Cicely came back to Lincoln — and ended up in tears after the first discussion about the wedding.



Cicely Wardyn wedding dress

Barb Batie, Cicely Wardyn’s mother, helps her to button her wedding gown.



She wanted the big wedding she’d dreamed of since childhood; he wanted no fanfare, something small. Really small.

He drove to Lincoln to make sure they’d get over this first relationship bump. They agreed to not talk about it for a while.

They reached an agreement over the phone at the end of August (her in Grand Island, he in Rochester, Minnesota)



Cicely Wardyn wedding dress

Cicely Wardyn created this sketch of the wedding gown she imagined. She claimed that she was a suave or silky-silky bride since childhood and that sleeves were her favorite feature. She loved the 1940s glamour and wanted to recreate it. 



They set a date. They chose a charming courthouse. She hired a photographer for the day. They found the perfect place for the small group of family members who were coming to the wedding to meet afterwards for dinner.

And Cicely decided the best way to get the dress of her dreams — probably the only way — was to make it.

The 6-foot-3 woman, with her broad shoulders, thin waist, and strong 4-H heritage, had always dreamed of making her own wedding gown.

“I kind of knew what I wanted and I knew I’d never find something that would fit me in three months in a store,”She spoke.



Cicely Wardyn wedding dress

Cicely Wardyn’s Wedding Dress



* * *

Years ago, Cicely’s mom wisely realized that sewing lessons might go better if she wasn’t the one teaching her daughter. Cicely, then 8, went to her aunt to learn how to make a pillow. This was her first 4-H project.

After the pillow came dresses and wool outfits with lining, and help from her grandma — the most-expert of the family seamstresses — who couldn’t sew anymore when Cicely was a teenager, but could advise.

She entered her outfits in 4-H contests — including modeling her handmade wool outfits while walking a sheep around an arena for judges to see (it’s called the sheep lead event for the city slickers among us). She also showed cattle. She entered 4-H contests in cooking and photography. Larry, her rooster won poultry reserve best-of-show in 2009.

Now, the 4-H-trained professional was determined make a bridal dress. It would have sleeves.



Cicely Wardyn wedding dress

Cicely Wardyn cut the sleeves first for her wedding dress.



“No one has sleeves,”She spoke. “I thought it would be neat to have something no one else has.”

She drew the dreamy, shimmery dress she envisioned, purchased 13 yards of silk and 10 yards of satin, covered buttons, and bought a bolt of pattern material. She viewed YouTube videos to help her plan and then laid out her design on grid.

She’d go to the bathroom with a tape measure to measure her body parts — the length from the middle of her sternum to her shoulder blade, the length of her arms, the width of her waist — then go add to the pattern.

She used old bed sheets to cut the dress from her pattern first, so she could make adjustments (and realized she’d have to choose either a low back or a low front, but not both).



Cicely Wardyn wedding dress

Cicely Wardyn used old bed sheets to cut the dress from her pattern first, but realized she’d have to choose either a low back or a low front, but not both.



The hardest part was getting the low back to fit right — snug but not tight, so it wouldn’t pull in front. She did it six to seven more times with the bed sheets.

On Nov. 16 — two weeks before the wedding — she cut the silk. Silk was much easier than satin to sew. Dan assisted with edge stitching.

She and her mini-bachelorette friends attended a Husker football game, and she also sewn.

They hosted Thanksgiving for her to sew.

She was accompanied by her aunts to Thanksgiving. She put on her dress for them and they helped her make adjustments she couldn’t do on her own. She loved this, because those aunts — who played such a big part in her early sewing years — wouldn’t be at the small wedding, so this allowed them to be a part of it.



Cicely Wardyn wedding dress

Cicely Wardyn had her back fitted by her aunts and checked the hem. She revealed that there was one spot she couldn’t see well enough so she needed help to ensure it was centered and snug.



She didn’t set out, exactly, to create a vintage wedding, but Dan’s uniform, and her dress and the courthouse all just sort of happened.

“It just kind of evolved that way,”She spoke.

* * *

After the small wedding, the entire family headed to Katalari FarmsFor dinner with prime rib, visit the Christmas Tree Farm in nearby. Whitefoot Catering in Boelus (did we mention that part of Wardyn’s job is overseeing ag promotion and development?)

The Christmas tree farm let them reserve their first Christmas tree as a married couple, and the bride and groom — in gown and uniform — cut it down. Everyone sat at a single table. The couple had their first dance to Nat King Cole’s “L-O-V-E.” They had a two-layer Dairy Queen ice cream cake (Dan’s idea).

She wore her grandmother’s pearls, the same ones her mom had worn at her wedding. They used the same cake knife that his grandparents used to cut their wedding cakes.

The next day, she was presenting at Nebraska Cattlemen. The newlyweds traveled to Topeka, Kansas for an Army tour. “family drill day.”Dan then headed to Anchorage to find a nursing job. Cicely returned to work.

It wasn’t her dream wedding, but it was the right one. A small, happy, vintage affair, with family.

Maybe, she said, they’ll have a bigger reception some time next summer. She’s thinking she might use some of that extra silk to make a cocktail dress.

“We’ll see if I have time,”The bride agreed.

Here’s betting she’ll find it.

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Photos: Cicely’s wedding dress

Cicely Wardyn wedding dress

Last Updated
Jan 3, 2022

Cicely Wardyn wedding dress

Cicely Wardyn and Daniel on their wedding day. The groom — a lieutenant in the Army reserves — wore a newly issued uniform that harkened back to the Greatest Generation and the bride wore a silk gown reminiscent of the sleek simplicity of women’s fashion in the 1940s, one she sewed herself despite not sewing much since high school.



Cicely Wardyn wedding dress

Last Updated
Jan 3, 2022

Cicely Wardyn wedding dress

Cicely Wardyn sketched her gown before she sewn it. The heart-shaped pin cushion was one of her first 4-H sewing projects, the thimble was her grandma’s, and the little trimmer scissors belonged to her great-grandma.



Cicely Wardyn wedding dress

Last Updated
Jan 3, 2022

Cicely Wardyn wedding dress

Cicely and Daniel Wardyn scaled a barbed wire fence in order to capture some photos of their wedding day.



Cicely Wardyn wedding dress

Last Updated
Jan 3, 2022

Cicely Wardyn wedding dress

Cicely Wardyn and Daniel were married Dec. 1 at Sherman County Courthouse, Loup City.



Cicely Wardyn wedding dress

Last Updated
Dec 30, 2021

Cicely Wardyn wedding dress

Cicely and Daniel Wardyn at their wedding.



Cicely Wardyn wedding dress

Last Updated
Jan 3, 2022

Cicely Wardyn wedding dress

Cicely Wardyn’s Wedding Dress



Cicely Wardyn wedding dress

Last Updated
Jan 3, 2022

Cicely Wardyn wedding dress

Barb Batie, Cicely Wardyn’s mother, helps her to button her wedding gown.



Cicely Wardyn wedding dress

Last Updated
Jan 3, 2022

Cicely Wardyn wedding dress

Cicely Wardyn made a practice gown to refine her pattern before cutting the silk.



Cicely Wardyn wedding dress

Last Updated
Jan 3, 2022

Cicely Wardyn wedding dress

Cicely Wardyn used old bed sheets to cut the dress from her pattern first, but realized she’d have to choose either a low back or a low front, but not both.



Cicely Wardyn wedding dress

Last Updated
Jan 3, 2022

Cicely Wardyn wedding dress

Cicely Wardyn cut the sleeves first for her wedding dress.



Cicely Wardyn wedding dress

Last Updated
Jan 3, 2022

Cicely Wardyn wedding dress

Cicely Wardyn had her back fitted by her aunts and checked the hem. She stated that she couldn’t see the hem in one spot and needed help to ensure it was snug and centered.



Cicely Wardyn wedding dress

Last Updated
Jan 3, 2022

Cicely Wardyn wedding dress

Cicely Wardyn created this sketch of the wedding gown she imagined. She stated that she had always wanted a satin or silky wedding gown and was obsessed about having sleeves. She loved the 1940s glamour and wanted to recreate it. 



Cicely Wardyn wedding dress

Last updated
Jan 3, 2022

Cicely Wardyn wedding dress

Cicely Wardyn placed 25 buttons on the back and placed pins where the loops were so she didn’t miss any.



Cicely Wardyn wedding dress

Last Updated
Jan 3, 2022

Cicely Wardyn wedding dress

Cicely Wardyn made her own dress so she didn’t have any garment bags. She used her grandma’s Eastern Star garment bag. 



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