“When I started to walk down the aisle and thought about my grandmother also wearing the dress, the emotion hit me,” Lipari said.
When Adele Larson Stoneberg tried on a white satin wedding gown at Marshall Field’s department store in downtown Chicago in 1950, it was a perfect fit. She didn't think twice about it before paying $100 for it.
Stoneberg lent her two sisters the gown for their weddings after she was married. But the demand for that dress didn't die down. Years later, Stoneberg's daughter and her three nieces both enquired as to whether they may wear the same gown for their special occasions.
A proud family heirloom, the dress is still in demand, even 72 years after Stoneberg tied the knot at Ebenezer Lutheran Church. Stoneberg's granddaughter Serena Stoneberg Lipari wore the same dress in the same Chicago church for her wedding on August 5, 2022, according to Washington Post.
“There was no question that I would become the eighth bride to wear the dress,” said Lipari.
Although Lipari's grandmother passed away, other family members, including an aunt, her great-aunts, and a few cousins, who had also donned the iconic dress, were present at the wedding.
1 dress, 8 weddings: Brides in this family have worn the same gown for 72 years - The Washington Post https://t.co/MPmd9cn7ap— Christina Messenger (@Messe3Christina) August 19, 2022
“When I started to walk down the aisle and thought about my grandmother also wearing the dress, the emotion hit me,” Lipari said. “I felt a special connection to her on my wedding day.”
The tradition began when Adele Larson, then 21, became engaged to Roy Stoneberg in 1950. She then went with her mom, Anna Larson, to the eighth-floor bridal shop at Marshall Field’s to try on gowns. “The dress she settled on was well made and timeless,” said Adele’s sister, Eleanor “Elly” Larson Milton, 90, who was the maid of honor at the wedding.
“It’s a very classic dress, with a beautiful bodice, a Mandarin collar and lots of buttons,” she said. “When you touch that high quality satin, you realize it’s way above average.”
When it was time for Milton to get married in 1953, she knew that she wanted to wear the same gown her sister had worn. “My mother had taken excellent care of the dress and stored it in an airtight box,” she said. “It never occurred to me not to wear it. It was perfect in every way.”
Again, after Milton's wedding, the dress was cleaned professionally and stored, but this time, it was for 16 years. Then, in 1969, Milton’s sister, Sharon Larson Frank, decided to wear the dress when she married John Frank. But, it wasn't like she was forced into wearing the dress.
Beautiful dress and story.— Karen 🇨🇦 (@klb8888) August 17, 2022
“Our mother never told us we had to wear the dress—it just kind of evolved,” said Frank, 77. “It’s a traditional dress, and we could all make it fit with a few minor adjustments,” she said. “When my mom offered to take me shopping for another dress, I immediately told her, ‘No, I’d like to wear this one.’”
Once again, after the festivities, the dress was stored until Stoneberg’s daughter, Sue Stoneberg McCarthy, married Robert McCarthy in 1982. But McCarthy, now 66, said that she did add a few personal touches to her dress. “We all had our own veils, bouquets and jewelry, and our individual personalities shined through when walked down the aisle on our wedding day,” she said.
For the sixth time, the dress was carefully taken out of storage in 1990 so that Carole Milton Zmuda, Eleanor Milton's daughter, could wear it at her nuptials to Lawrence Zmuda. She had her eyes on the dress ever since she was a flower girl at her aunt Sharon’s wedding.
Wow....that is a beautiful dress! Love it!— Shelley🇨🇦🇺🇲 (@ShelleyWrixon) August 16, 2022
“I decided to unbutton the neckline, but it was otherwise perfect,” said Zmuda, 61, who now lives in Great Falls, Virginia. “When I look back, there was always a sense growing up that I was going to wear that dress,” she said.
In 1991, her sister Jean Milton Ellis wore the dress to her wedding to Tom Ellis. "I felt honored and privileged to wear [my aunt Adele’s] beautiful dress,” Ellis said, noting that her aunt died about three years before her wedding.
“I grew up seeing photos of my relatives in the dress, so I was proud to do the same,” she said. “It’s as classic now as it was in 1950.”
The seventh bride to wear the dress was Julie Frank Mackey, in 2013, for her wedding to Tom Mackey.
“I’m significantly taller than the other brides, so my mom [Sharon] added a wide ribbon to the hem and made my veil longer to hide adjustments made to the bodice,” said Mackey, 42, who lives in Manchester, Vermont.
“We’ve all been lucky in that it’s fit each of us pretty well,” she added. “The dress deeply connects all of the women in our family.”
Needless to say, the seven women, including Stoneberg in heaven, would have had a smile on their faces. “Everyone who has been married in the dress has had a long-lasting, healthy marriage, so we like to think it brings good luck,” Mackey said. “We hope to continue to preserve the dress—and the tradition—for many weddings to come.”
Representative Cover Image Source: Getty Images | Peter Cade