One family has passed down the same wedding dress for more than seven decades. Overall, eight different brides have worn the satin gown with a mandarin collar, a lace panel in the front and back, and small buttons.
The tradition first started with Adele Larson, who sported the ensemble when she said “I do” to Roy Stoneberg on September 16, 1950. Adele found the dress at Marshall Field’s department store in Chicago, and she certainly got her money’s worth.
Julie Frank Mackey (Adele’s niece) discussed the dress in question on Good Morning America. “She bought it for $100.75, which, in this day and age, is kind of wild,” Julie said. “When you see it up close, the fabric, the satin, and the lace are just really, really gorgeous and timeless.”
When Elly Larson (Adele’s sister) was gearing up to swap vows with John Milton in June 1953, she also decided to don the dress. “When her mom offered to go shopping for a wedding gown for her, she said, ‘Well, why would we do that? We’ll wear this one,’” Julie recounted.
In May 1969, Sharon Larson (Julie’s mom) also followed suit when she married John Frank. “When I attended my sister’s weddings, I was 5 and 8 years old, so I don’t think I really thought about it very much,” Sharon told Good Morning America. “I just assumed I’d wear the dress and not because I felt obligated to. I thought, ‘We’ve got a dress. I’ll wear the dress because my sisters had worn it.’ It just seemed like a fun thing, a good thing to do.”
Sure enough, the second generation went on to wear the beloved dress. In 1982, Sue Stoneberg (Adele’s daughter) donned the classic ensemble when she wed Bob McCarthy. “I’m very close with my mom,” Stoneberg shares. “We’re a very close family, so I always figured when I got married, I would were the dress.”
The fifth bride to wear the gown in question was Carol Milton (Elly’s daughter) during her 1990 nuptials to Lawrence Zmuda. “When I think back to when I was engaged in the late ‘80s, I never gave it a second thought to get any other dress than the one I had,” she explained. “It was just I loved my aunts, my mom, my cousin. It was just sort of like, ‘I’m wearing what they wore.’ It just was not a decision.”
A year later, Jean Milton (Elly’s other daughter) married Tom Ellis. Once again, the gown made an appearance. “The year before Tom and I got married, my sister Carol wore [the dress], and I think in planning her wedding and knowing that she was going to wear it, I pretty much solidified that I would wear it too,” she recalled.
More recently, when Julie tied the knot with Tom Mackey in February 2013, it was a given that she would wear the dress. But, this time, she decided to revamp it. Julie had a ribbon hem and an open neckline added. She also accessorized with a handmade veil. “It was just never even a question,” Julie illustrated. “Never any family pressure, but it was just something I really looked up to and really wanted to be part of.”
The latest family member to wear the dress was Serena Stoneberg (Adele’s granddaughter) when she exchanged promises to Chris Lipari in August 2022. “I felt just so happy and honored to be able to wear it,” Stoneberg said.
To maintain the condition of the dress throughout the years, the family has taken it to a professional cleaner. “By the time the next generation started wearing it, then we became aware that we need to preserve it,” Julie noted. “So, my mother Sharon has assumed that responsibility. She's a very talented sewer, and so, she's taken that on." The family also wanted to capture memories of the gown, so they started “The Bride Book,” which is filled with photos of the brides wearing the meaningful dress.
The most notable part? All eight of these marriages have been long-lasting. “I think that’s part of the legacy of the dress that each of us have been drawn to,” Julie said. “It connected each of us because we all value family and tradition so deeply.”