LORELAI: Well, you have a dress. You need a dowry, I guess. There you go.
A dowry is a payment of money or property given by a bride’s family to a groom’s family when the couple get married. It is an ancient custom, with a long history, which probably began with the idea of a dowry helping to give a married woman some level of financial security. It is still practised around the world, but not often in modern western countries.
As Lorelai says this, she passes Rory the pitcher shaped like a cow they have on their kitchen table – in some cultures, and certainly in the past, livestock could be part of a dowry. It’s a joke which is also a reminder that Lorelai doesn’t have much money with which to endow Rory.
The dress that Rory has is the one that Lorelai would have worn to her own debutante ball when she was sixteen, if she hadn’t got pregnant.
(Lorelai and Rory seem to like cow-shaped things – Rory bought Sookie a kitchen timer shaped like a cow which mooed when the time was up for Christmas in 2000).