For Abigail Kingston, finding the perfect wedding dress wasn't your run-of-the-mill bridal shopping experience. The 30-year-old from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania will grace her October 17 wedding in a 120-year-old silk-satin dress that hasn't been worn since 1991 — and she will be the 11th in her family to wear the gown.
The dress is a family tradition dating back more than a century to when the bride-to-be's great-great-grandmother, Mary Lowry, wore the dress in 1895. "I knew I wanted to wear the dress, I just didn't know if it was possible or not," Kingston told TODAY.com.
As soon as she got engaged last September, the bride-to-be and her mom, Leslie Kingston, started tracking down the dress, which was in Vermont with her great aunt Sara "Sally" Seiler — she was the fourth bride to wear the gown in 1960, and she passed it on to both of her daughters, who both wore it in 1989 and then in 1991.
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But, when the dress arrived in April, it was brown and didn't look quite the way that Leslie remembered it from her own big day in 1976. The mother-daughter duo took the dress to a bridal designer known for restoring vintage dresses, Deborah LoPresti, who spent 200 hours getting the gown to look how it does today — an off-white champagne hue with new sleeves to replace the old disintegrating ones.
Of course, the gown doesn't look the same on every bride that wears it — no matter how much restoration and alterations were done. "Every bride was a different shape and size, so each time it was worn, it was fit for the bride's body, so you can see the change over the years," Leslie Kingston said.
On the newest bride-to-be, who's 5'10, the dress is tea length — but Abigail made the most of it by adding a pair of glittering gold wedding shoes. "I felt like Cinderella the first time I put everything on," Abigail said. "I seriously felt like I got the dress in rags and turned it into riches."
The mother of the bride is also moved by the heirloom gown being worn for an 11th time. "I can't stop crying every time I see her in the dress," Leslie said.. "It's one thing that I wore it, but for it to have been your great-great-grandmother's dress is just incredible."