Up a short flight of stairs, inside a former bank in a small rural town 100 miles northwest of Detroit – there is a room. It is a special place, rich in history, and 100,000 brides-to-be from across the Midwest have made pilgrimages to find it. Just 10 foot by 8 foot, it has floor-to-ceiling mirrors on every wall, carrying the brides’ images to infinity. It is called the “Magic Room,” and for good reason.
Perhaps one of the most unique and memorable things about Becker’s Bridal is its famous Magic Room. In 2005, the old bank vault was transformed into a viewing room. A single pedestal, soft church lighting and infinity mirrors quickly became for brides in their gowns … magic. Soon the word was out, and engaged women were coming out to Becker’s just to be able to stand in the room. Then, in 2010, something really magical happened. After many ignored call attempts, our owner Shelley, finally took the call of an assumed solicitor. Much to her surprise, the persistent caller was Wall Street Journal columnist and best-selling author, Jeffrey Zaslow. He wanted to write a non-fiction book about parents’ love for their daughters and he wanted it to be set in a bridal salon. After speaking with Shelley, he decided to come right out.
I got in my car, drove there, and fell in love. I loved that Fowler, Michigan, is a town with more wedding dresses (2,500) than residents (1,100). I loved that the store has remained in the same family since it was founded in 1934, and that it inhabits an old bank building. Not many people outside of Michigan know about the women of Becker’s—a daughter, her mother, her grandmother, and her great–grandmother—who built and nurtured the store, guiding 100,000 brides into dresses over seventy–six years. It’s a beautiful story that hadn’t been told.
Pretty immediately, Jeff began writing, spending days at Becker’s and speaking to former brides with special stories on their journey to the altar. A year of writing and research ensued, and many, many hours of conversation with Jeff created a special friendship between Jeff and the ladies of his book, especially with Shelley and her daughter, Alyssa. In January of 2012, “The Magic Room” hit shelves and people all over the world were getting a glimpse into the story of Becker’s Bridal and its beloved brides.
THE MAGIC ROOM illuminates the most poignant aspects of a woman’s journey to the altar. The stories here are more than mere tales of brides-to-be – they’re illustrations of the ways in which all parents wish their daughters will go through life safe, happy and surrounded by love. The “Magic Room” offers visceral reminders of the challenges young women face, of the ways in which sadness is so often intertwined with joy, and of the sweet possibilities that await them – or that may be beyond their grasp.
The lessons Zaslow shares from within the “Magic Room” are at times joyful, at times heart-breaking. And each bride who passes through Becker’s Bridal has a story to tell – one that carried her there, to that dress, that room, that moment.
Tragically, while traveling home from a book signing for “The Magic Room” just months after its release, Jeff passed away in a car accident. His gifts to the world, though, continue to live in his books and at Becker’s Bridal. Brides and their families are still moved by Jeff’s words and making the trip to stand in the room he made famous. From the father who drove his wife and daughter from Iowa to find her gown to the man who flew his fiancé from Brazil for a special proposal, the story of the magic room continues to honor his memory.
At Becker’s we are devoted to providing you with a magic moment of your own, one that is worthy of story books and will stand the test of time.
If your book club is reading or is scheduled to read “The Magic Room”, and are interested in having Shelley Becker-Mueller and/or her daughter, Alyssa, join your conversation, they are happy to do so! You may contact them via phone or email.
*Please include ‘book club’ in your subject line!