Girls Who Wore Their Mothers’ Wedding Dresses On Their Big Day
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A young bride from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania is bringing a whole new meaning to the term ‘something borrowed’.
Abigail Kingston, 30, is set to get married in a wedding dress that is 120 years old and it has been previously worn by 10 other brides on her mother’s side of the family.
Mary Lowry Warren, Kingston’s great-great-grandmother, first donned the Victorian-era satin gown in 1895 and was last worn in 1991.
Leigh Valley Live reports that the tradition of passing down the dress took 50 years to start because Lowry’s daughter’s had no interest in wearing the dress.
Lowry’s daughter got married in the roaring ’20s and wanted a flapper-style dress instead of the older style, Kingston said.
It was Lowry’s granddaughter Jane Woodruff who was delighted to wear the dress for her February 20, 1946, wedding to John Kearns.
The next to wear the dress was Virginia Woodruff on her October 13, 1948, wedding to Douglas MacConnell.
Abby said that when she became engaged to her fiancé, Jason Curtis, she immediately knew she wanted to wear the family heirloom – but had to go on quite the journey to track down the dress.
Her mother, Leslie Kingston, found out that the current keeper of the gown was family member Sara ‘Sally’ Seiler Ogden, who wore it in 1960.
She happily shipped it along, but when Abby saw the condition of the dress when she received it ahead of her October 17 nuptials, she wasn’t sure it would be possible for her to wear it.
The sleeves were falling apart, it was riddled with holes, and the once-white satin had turned brown. And the century-old dress didn’t even come close to fitting the tall, slender bride.
Abby, who recently moved from New York to Charlotte, North Carolina with Jason, shared: ‘I thought it’s just not possible. I’m just not going to be able to wear it.’
However, after 200 hours of restoration work by Pennsylvania-based bridal designer Deborah LoPresti, Abby will now be able to wear the dress when she weds Jason next month.
Kingston was not the first person to make changes to the wedding dress. The dress got shorter in the 1980s and was a far cry from the dress worn by Sarah Seiler who got married on June 15, 1960 to Douglas Ogden.
‘Everyone kept cutting away and cutting away at it, especially in the ’80s,’ Kingston said. ‘Now it’s in style in that it’s tea length, but it was never meant for that.’
Kingston joked that she’d wear the short dress as a crop top since she is 5′ 10″.
The next person to wear the family dress before it started shrinking was Laird MacConnell on October 16, 1976, who got married to Timothy Hensler.
After her was Abby’s mother Leslie Kingston who wore the dress in the wedding to her Abby’s father Richard T. Kingston Jr. in 1977.
Lace was added to the dress when Janet Kearns married Mark Daigle on October 30, 1982. The lace covered the damage on the dress. Virginia Kearns’ wedding to Charles Stinnett on August 26, 1989, was the next time the dress made an appearance.
Jane Ogden wore the dress at her June 2, 1986, wedding to James Houston making her the last bride to wear it.
Kingston first saw the dress she knew she had to wear at her aunt Ann Ogden’s wedding in 1991 and at 5-years-old she thought it was the most beautiful dress she’d ever seen.
Kingston and her mom decided they wanted to restore the gown, which has only been dry-cleaned once, to its original design, worn by Abby’s great-great-grandmother Mary when she got married in Buffalo, New York on December 11, 1895.
This required replacing the hand-sewn pleated sleeves, something which Leslie was ‘sad’ about.
‘The sleeves looked like rags’, Abby said, adding that now: ‘It feels like the Cinderella dress.’
Abby, who will be the eleventh bride to don the gown, will marry Jason at the Lake House Inn in Bucks County, Pennsylvania.
She will wear a new dress for the ceremony and change into the heirloom only for the cocktail hour because it’s ‘very, very fragile’, she said.
The bride will also wear her great-grandmother’s ring and her grandmother’s locket.
Throughout the wedding venue, there will be framed photos of each of the previous 10 brides wearing the historic gown.
A twelfth bride in the family has since shown interest in wearing the dress on her wedding day.
‘It’s not just the dress that’s been handed down’, Leslie said. ‘It’s the love.’
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