It was a moment for which Kim Jones had waited nearly three decades.
The day before her 26th wedding anniversary in October, Jones, of Acworth, Ga., and her only daughter, Emily - both swept up in the excitement of the engagements and weddings of friends and family - snuck upstairs to her bedroom so that Emily, 19, could try on her mom's wedding dress.
"We went and pulled the box out, and lifted the top of the box off and started pulling the wrapping off," Jones, a real estate agent, told ABCNews.com today. "I was taking pictures with my iPhone and we were just being all girly and sentimental."
When Jones and her daughter pulled out the dress, however, they got a big surprise. The dress that Jones had kept with her all those years was not the one she had worn down the aisle to say "I do" to her husband, George.
"I stopped in my tracks and said, 'My dress doesn't have [long] sleeves, baby,'" Jones said. "We were both just standing there in shock. We just couldn't believe it."
The dress that Emily Jones pulled out of her mom's storage box was ivory, like the original, but was long-sleeved and high-necked, not the sweetheart cut, short-sleeved gown Jones had picked out at a wedding store in her native Tennessee with her mom, aunt and six bridesmaids 26 years ago.
"We were kind of upset and kind of stunned, and I immediately got on the phone to call my bridesmaids and my 83-year-old aunt in Nashville, who's the memory bank for the family," Jones said.
Jones' aunt reminded her that Jones' mother had taken the dress to White Way Cleaners, a Tennessee-based dry cleaning business that, at the time, had multiple locations, to have it professionally sealed. The dress was returned to the family in a sealed box that held the dress, veil and slip. The two heart-shaped windows in the inner-sealed box allowed Jones to see an ivory dress when she looked at it over the years, but not enough to make her suspicious.
White Way Cleaners, which had been in business for nearly 80 years, according to Jones, had recently closed.
"I had my bridesmaids comb the streets of Nashville to see if any of the White Ways were still open, but they'd shut down," Jones said.
"And then I looked at the [dry cleaning] ticket and it's the wrong ticket because the middle of the three numbers is wrong," she said. "It's my veil. It's my slip. But it's not my dress."
front-page story in the paper this week led to lots of calls from old friends, Jones says, but no leads on her dress.One of Jones' two sons lives in Nashville and sent his mom's story to the local paper, The Tennessean, in hope that someone would recognize the dress and perhaps have Jones' dress in return. A
"Hopefully they've just moved to Minnesota or something with the dress under their bed," she said, still holding out hope that Emily could one day walk down the aisle in her dress. "They may be just like me where they haven't opened it to realize that they have the wrong dress."
Jones says she may go back to Tennessee after the whirl of the holidays and family friends' weddings to look at county marriage records and newspaper announcements to see if she can find a match. Until then, she and her family are getting a good laugh at all the attention her mistaken dress has received.
"For two or three days, I couldn't believe it," Jones said. "Then we've just kind of laughed about and said what's meant to be will be."
"I'm not mad," she said. The dress is back under her bed, waiting in case another woman comes forward to claim it. "I just want to give her back her dress too."