Making magic on Main Street
BookPage Nonfiction Top Pick, January 2012
Since 1934, more than 100,000 brides have traveled to a store at the end of a tired-looking block on Main Street in Fowler, Michigan, in search of the perfect wedding dress. Occupying a former bank building, Becker’s Bridal stocks more than 2,500 wedding dresses, a “blizzard of white” squeezed tightly onto three floors of crowded racks. On the second floor, in the former bank vault, sits a room where floor-to-ceiling mirrors cover each wall. In this “Magic Room,” brides stand atop a tiled, circular pedestal in soft lighting as they reflect on the moments that have led them to this place and finally decide on which dress might be the one.
When best-selling author Jeffrey Zaslow (The Girls From Ames) visits the store, his fascination with the lives of its customers catches fire. Weaving the stories of the women who built and nurtured the store with those of several brides-to-be, he captures the powerful allure of Becker’s and the hope and optimism that women bring with them to the Magic Room. Among others, we meet Danielle DeVoe, a social worker whose challenging family life led her from a young age to dream of the power and magic of love, and Julie Wieber, standing on the pedestal for the second time, accompanied by her daughters and recalling through tears the memory of her late first husband, Jeff.
The present owner, Shelley Becker, has been looking into the 90-year-old mirror in the front of the store since she was a little girl; it reminds her of her grandmother, Eva Becker, who ran the store with a firm hand. When she looks into the mirror, she also wonders about the lives of the brides who have stood in front of it. Whose marriages have dissolved? Whose have grown richer as the years have progressed? She wonders if her own daughter, who now works there with her, will join the long line of Becker women who have run the store.
In The Magic Room, Zaslow captures the joy, hope, love and magic in the hearts of these women, and in the hearts and lives of the Becker family, who have made it possible for generations of young women to experience the magical moment of becoming a bride.