Abigail Kingston has always wanted a fairytale wedding, and the dress she’ll be walking down the aisle in tells quite a story.
Most brides-to-be want everything about their wedding day to be uniquely theirs, but it doesn’t look like Abigail Kingston is going to be like ‘most brides’. She’s wearing a dress that’s been worn by 10 other brides in her family.
The dress was worn for the very first time by Mary Lowry, Kingston’s great-great-grandmother, in 1895. The tradition didn’t start immediately, however, as the Roaring Twenties swayed Lowry’s daughter to wear a flapper-style dress rather than the flowing number her mother debuted. It was Lowry’s granddaughter who wore her grandma’s throwback threads, and thus began the tradition that would reach Kingston decades later. Buzzfeed tells us that there was another lull during the 50s and 60s, but the popularity of the dress was in full swing when Kingston’s mother tied the knot in 1977.
Her predecessors have had significant alterations made to the dress so that it would be acceptable bridal wear for their era, but Kingston was keen to strip away the decades of lace trim and sleeve reductions and restore it to as close to its original nineteenth-century glory as possible.
She says her love affair with the gown began when she was learning to play the piano in her childhood living room: “I just kept looking up at the pictures and saying, ‘I hope one day I can be married and I’ll wear the dress,’”.
When Kingston’s time came to start planning her wedding, there had been yet another break in the line of brides eager to wear the dress, 1991 being the last time it was donned, so the chances of Kingston locating the dress in one piece seemed grim. But after some dedicated detective work, Kingston’s mother found the precious garment and they started the lengthy alteration process.
It was clear to Kingston that a lot of work would have to go into the gown’s authentic restoration. A combination of wear-and-tear and the fact that the dress had been shortened to calf-length meant that some heavy artillery would be necessary for Kingston to have the cascading wedding dress she had longed for since childhood. However, she insists that the emphasis isn’t purely on aesthetics:
“It’s not really about the way it looks, it’s more about the generations and the family tradition that has been passed down from bride to bride and that’s what makes it so much more meaningful,” said Kingston.
Even so, she enlisted the help of designer Deborah LoPresti, who put a staggering 200 hours into the gown’s restoration, lengthening the train and sewing 80 pleats by hand to recreate the iconic Victorian puffed sleeves.
If this is her approach to her ‘something old’ and ‘something borrowed’, imagine what she’s got planned for ‘something new’ and ‘something blue’!
Check out the photo gallery above for a look at the gown’s fascinating journey through time.