'Timeless': Story of a 72-year-old $100 wedding dress passed down generations and worn by eight brides so far

The classic satin gown was first worn by Adele Larson at her wedding to Roy Stoneberg on September 16, 1950

'Timeless': Story of a 72-year-old $100 wedding dress passed down generations and worn by eight brides so far
Bride Serena Stoneberg, center, stands with six women in her family who have all worn the same wedding dress, at Ebenezer Lutheran Church in Chicago’s Andersonville neighborhood on August 5, 2022 (The Chicago Tribune)
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CHICAGO, ILLINOIS: In a heartfelt continuation of traditions, one family has passed down the same wedding dress for seven decades. Overall, eight brides have worn the dress for their wedding. The traditional dress features a mandarin collar, a lace panel in the front and back, and lots of small, fabric-covered buttons.

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According to Good Morning America, the classic satin gown was first worn by Adele Larson at her wedding to Roy Stoneberg on September 16, 1950. Larson's niece, Julie Frank Mackey, said the dress was purchased from Marshall Field's department store in downtown Chicago.

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While speaking to GMA, Julie said, "She bought it for $100.75, which, in this day and age, is kind of wild," adding, "When you see it up close, the fabric, the satin and the lace are just really, really gorgeous and timeless."

Adele Larson was the first person to wear the dress, that has now bacome a family heirloom(Good Morning America)
Adele Larson was the first person to wear the dress that has now become a family heirloom (Good Morning America)

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Three years after Adele's wedding, her younger sister Eleanor "Elly" Larson wore the dress at her own wedding in June 1953 and so did Julie's mom, Sharon Larson.

After the Larson sisters, a second generation of brides went on to wear it two decades later, starting with Susan Lianne Stoneberg McCarthy, Adele's daughter, who married Robert McCarthy in 1982.

Sharon Larson wore her eldest sister's wedding dress when she married John Frank on May 17, 1969. (Good Morning America)
Sharon Larson wore her eldest sister's wedding dress when she married John Frank on May 17, 1969 (Good Morning America)

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Susan said, "I'm very close with my mom. We're a very close family. So I always figured when I got married, I would wear the dress." After that, Carol Milton Zmuda (Elly Larson Milton's daughter), was the fifth bride to wear the beloved dress.

The next in line was Jean Milton Ellis, also Larson Milton's daughter, who wore the dress when she wed Tom Ellis in 1991.

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The dress was taken out of storage 22 years later, at Julie's February 2013 wedding to Tom Mackey.

Julie Frank and Tom Mackey married on Feb. 16, 2013. (Good Morning America)
Julie Frank and Tom Mackey married on Feburary 16, 2013 (Good Morning America)

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She said, "It was just never even a question. Never any family pressure but it just was something I really looked up to and really wanted to be a part of."

Meanwhile, the dress was kept intact, owing to professional cleaning. Zmuda made a memory book called 'The Bride Book', featuring photos of the brides who wore it over the years.

Julie said, "At the beginning, there was never any intention -- going back in the '50s – that this was going to become this decades long tradition. So I would give that initial credit to my grandmother, Anna Larson -- so Adele, Elly and Sharon's mother -- for preserving it in those early years." She added, "By the time the next generation started wearing it, then we became aware that we need to preserve it. So my mother Sharon has assumed that responsibility. She's a very talented sewer and so she's taken that on."

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In August 2022, Serena Stoneberg Lipari wore her grandmother Adele Larson's dress on her wedding day, as she married Chris Lipari at Ebenezer Lutheran Church, the same Chicago church her grandmother got married in.

Zmuda said, "It was extra special because of the church where it was ... It was really magical to watch Serena come down the aisle with her dad, our cousin, Mark. I get chills talking about it. It was really special, lots of tears in our eyes, happy tears. It was wonderful." 

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