Wedding Dress History – A Tale of Two Dresses


If you are shopping for a wedding dress, take a moment to think about how you may be paying for it. You might take out your debit card. Or credit card. Some may even write a check. It sounds like an easy and normal transaction.

But Queen Elizabeth (then Princess Elizabeth) did not have such an effortless way to pay for her wedding dress. When Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip married in November of 1947, the British government was still recovering from the ravages of war. Rationing was still a way of life for everyone. This included the royal family. So, the princess saved up clothing coupons to buy her wedding dress.

That’s right – she had to save just like anyone else. This was a very important time of recovery for England. Times were tough.

There was a slight exception as Princess Elizabeth was granted 200 extra ration coupons for her royal nuptials, and citizens tried to donate theirs through the mail. However, each mailed-in ration coupon had to be returned. It was illegal to transfer them. The princess had to make her budget work.

And she did!

Made from ivory silk and decorated with 10,000 seed pearls, her wedding dress was simply beautiful. It was made from Chinese silk from China (as opposed to Japan or Italy, given it was still so soon after the war) and its 15-foot train was inspired by Bottielli’s painting of Primavera from 1482. The dress was also covered in delicate floral designs.

The wedding dress was meant to symbolize “rebirth and growth” in Britain after the war. In total, the gown took 350 women seven weeks to make.

Princess Elizabeth followed the rule of the day. Her wedding was just as royal and regal. In fact, it’s a legendary part of English history.

Now let’s turn to another story. Image having a wedding dress that’s literally part of your family history. A dress that your great grandmother, grandmother and mother wore. It’s been in the family for 85 years!

Maria Teresa Moreno ― known by her relatives as “Grande” ― first wore a single silk long-sleeved gown way back in 1932. Grande’s granddaughter, Marta Prietto O’Hara, wore it in 1983. Followed by Elena Salinas, Grande’s granddaughter and Marta’s younger sister, in 1997. Most recently, the wedding dress was passed along to Pilar O’Hara Kassouf, Grande’s great-granddaughter, to wear in September 2017.

This unique family wedding dress tradition started when Grande, a talented Los Angeles seamstress who was born and raised in Mexico, fell in love with a wedding dress she saw in a department store window. Instead of rushing in to buy it, Grande took the time to recreate it by hand for her wedding to Manuel Moreno.

While a typical wedding dress usually is a bright shade of white,  this dress has been described as creamy gold in color. To the touch, the fabric has a luxurious, buttery texture. Believe it or not, it’s never had any major alterations. Generation after generation – it just fits. The only alterations made over the years include removing a portion of the original 9-foot train, changing the back of the gown to a deep V shape. Changes to beading, lace trim and other minor elements have also been made. But overall, its appearance has remained similar.

Sources:

The True Story of Queen Elizabeth’s Wedding Dress 

4 Women in One Family Wore the Same Handmade Wedding Gown From 1932