11 Women in This Family Have Worn the Same Wedding Dress in the Last 120 Years

When Abigail Kingston got engaged, she almost immediately decided on her wedding attire – a 120-year-old dress that’s been worn by 10 other brides from her mother’s side of the family since the late 1800s.

The ancient two-piece dress is a family heirloom, first worn by Kingston’s great-great-grandmother Mary Lowry Warren in 1895. None of Lowry’s daughters were interested in the large gown, so it was first re-worn by her granddaughter in the ’40s. Later, Kingston’s mother and aunts continued the tradition of getting married in the same dress.

Abigail herself has known about the dress since she was a little girl. “When I was younger, while I was playing piano at my parents’ house, there was a framed picture of the first six brides wearing the dress, so I would think, ‘Someday,’” she said. But when the day finally arrived, she and her mother Leslie had to track the dress down.


Leslie had first laid eyes on the dress at her aunt Selier Ogden’s wedding at age 5. She had immediately declared it the most beautiful dress she’d ever seen, and eventually wore it at her own wedding. So when her daughter Abigail expressed interest in wearing it, she was all for the idea. It was last seen in 1991, but thankfully, Leslie knew about the tradition: “The mother-of-the-last-bride has always been the keeper of the dress,” she said.


Bride no. 1: Mary Lowry

So she contacted aunt Ogden, whose daughter Ann was the last bride to wear the dress. Ogden happily shipped the gown to Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, where the Kingstons live. But when they pulled the dress out of the box, they were disappointed to find it in a terrible state. The sleeves were disintegrating, the fabric was filled with holes, and the satin had browned with age. It was also very short for Abigail.


Bride no. 2: Jane Woodruff

It had apparently been through several alterations over decades – the original cathedral-length train was shortened, the 18-inch waist was let out, and lace had been added to cover damage. And it had been dry-cleaned only once in all these years. Abigail’s hopes of wearing the dress on her big day were shattered. “I thought it’s just not possible,” she said. “I’m just not going to be able to wear it.”


Bride no. 3: Virginia Woodruff

But she contacted Deborah LoPresti, a bridal designer from Wilson Borough, who spent 200 hours painstakingly restoring the dress to its original beauty. With the help of Gary Harper of Prestige Dry Cleaners, they managed to lighten the brown color to a champagne shade. But the sleeves had to go. “We needed to replace the sleeves,” Leslie told Lehigh Vally Live. “I was very sad about that fact. But the sleeves gave up their lives for a very important purpose: to save the rest of the dress.”


Bride no. 4: Sara Seiler

LoPresti combed through New York’s garment district for the right charmeuse silk satin to match the original color. She made new sleeves from this material, but they’re exact replicas of the sleeves on the original dress – down to the 80 hand sewn pleats on each sleeve. She then used the remnants of the old sleeves to patch holes throughout the gown.


Bride no. 5:  Laird MacConnell

After five dress fittings and six months of alterations, Abigail said slipping into the finished dress was a surreal experience. “At the same time, I felt like Cinderella,” she told Buzzfeed. “The sleeves were in rags, and I had my fairy godmother make it back into this beautiful dress. I never imagined that I would ever put that dress on, and I feel like it fits perfectly.”


Bride no. 6: Leslie Kingston

The dress is still very fragile, but now good enough for Abigail to wear at the cocktail hour after her wedding. She will be wearing a new dress for the ceremony itself. She will also wear a locket her grandfather gave her grandmother on their 50th wedding anniversary, and her great-grandmother’s ring. On display will be photographs of the 10 former brides wearing the dress.


Bride no. 7: Janet Kearns

“We’re just really happy and blessed we can keep the tradition going,” Leslie said. She’s excited to be its new keeper, and she plans to preserve it in a cedar chest. But it might not be in storage for long – there’s already a 12th bride inquiring about it!


Bride no. 8: Jane Odgen


Bride no. 9: Virginia Kearns


Bride no. 10: Ann Ogden


Bride no. 11: Abigail Kingston

Photos: Abigail Kingston

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