When Abigail Kingston became engaged to Jason Curtis, she did not have to wonder about what she'd wear on her wedding day. The dress she had in mind has been passed down through five generations in her family, starting with her great-great grandmother Mary Lowry Warren, who wore it when she wed on Dec. 11, 1895, in Buffalo, New York. In the 120 years since, it has been worn by nine other brides in her family, making so many trips that Abigail and her mother Leslie, who wore the dress as bride number 6 in 1977, were afraid that it was simply beyond repair, reports the Lehigh Valley Express-Times. When the keeper of the dress (the mother of the last bride to wear it—that last wedding being in 1991) sent it to Kingston, it arrived filled with holes, with disintegrating sleeves and browned satin.
Not only had the dress been dry cleaned just once, lace patched the wear from 10 brides of different sizes trying to make it fit. Abigail, who is tall and thin, turned to a bridal designer, who spent 200 hours restoring it to its "spectacular" original design, reports Jezebel, transforming the brown into a blush shade and painstakingly recreating the disappearing sleeves and their 80 hand-sewn pleats. Still, "it is very, very fragile," says Abigail, so she'll slip it on after the ceremony to wear throughout the cocktail hour during her Oct. 17 wedding in Perkasie, Pennsylvania. Abigail will also wear her great grandmother's ring and a locket given to her grandmother by her grandfather. "It's not just the dress that's been handed down," Leslie says. "It's the love." A 12th bride is already asking about it. (This bride wore her baby.)