Jordyn Cleverly had a very special “something borrowed” on her wedding day.
The bride chose to wear her grandmother’s 1960s wedding dress — and she shared an emotional moment with her beloved grandma when she surprised her with it during her “first look” photos.
The Boise, Idaho, newlywed, who tied the knot with husband Dakota Cleverly on Sept. 23, says it all began when she became frustrated during her wedding dress search. The 23-year-old hair and makeup stylist — and self-proclaimed “old soul” — tried on over 30 gowns, but couldn’t find one that fit her Victorian, antique style.
“I feel like my soul is a lot older than I am, so I have a very special taste in fashion in general, and specifically when it comes to a wedding dress,” Cleverly tells PEOPLE. “I knew I just wanted something that was different and spoke for itself.”
She soon realized she had the perfect opportunity to honor her paternal grandmother, 74-year-old Penny Jensen, by wearing her elegant dress from 1962.
Jensen’s late husband tragically died at age 49 due to complications from sarcoidosis, an inflammatory disease that affects multiple organs in the body. Although Cleverly never got to meet her “Opa,” she got to know her grandfather through her grandmother’s stories.
For Jensen, the wedding dress was a tangible memory of her marriage. She saved it in her closet for over 50 years before passing it onto her granddaughters for “scrap” material. But with the help of a seamstress named Candy Harris, Cleverly was able to use the entire dress.
And better yet, Cleverly made the dress a surprise and decided to capture her grandma’s reaction. Unlike most “first look” photos between bride and groom, her wedding photographer, Kortney Peterson, set it up between bride and grandmother.
“It was something that was so intimate and so personal for her, I knew this would just be an opportunity of a lifetime,” Cleverly tells PEOPLE. “This would be the perfect chance to honor that dress, especially since I never got to meet my grandpa.”
Cleverly debuted the dress at her rehearsal dinner, two nights before the ceremony. While the bride-to-be secretly changed into her dress, Cleverly’s father pulled his mother aside to present her with an 8 by 10-inch polaroid from her own wedding 55 years ago.
When Jensen turned around, she found her granddaughter wearing the exact dress in the framed photograph she held.
“Her grandmother looked and saw her, and everybody around us was just automatically bawling our eyes out,” Peterson tells PEOPLE. “I had tears dripping down the back of my camera. Her being so emotional made everyone around us so emotional. It was something so beautiful to be a part of.”
Jensen was practically “speechless,” Cleverly recalls. All she could mutter was “wow” and “1962,” the year she and her late husband were married.
“I think she was going through this time warp of 25 years ago, when my grandpa passed, and then 1962,” Cleverly says. “I think she was seeing herself and seeing all those moments and memories flash back.”
Aside from the shared gown, Cleverly and her grandmother also share a similar love story: They both married their high school sweethearts (Jordyn and Dakota Cleverly actually met in the seventh grade).
“I finally just hugged her and we just held each other for like a solid, probably two minutes, just sobbing,” Cleverly tells PEOPLE.
And she fondly recalls her grandmother whispering in her ear: “I married my high school sweetheart in this dress. Now so will you.”