Oklahoma bride is third generation to wear same gown

Three generations of women in the Holliger/Costello/Elders family have all worn the same wedding dress, with minor repairs by an expert.
by Heather Warlick Published: July 16, 2012

As she exchanged vows with Clayton Elder at St. Joseph Old Cathedral on June 30, Katy Elder wore a creamy white gown of silk and handmade lace that was worn first by her grandmother, Yolanda Holliger, in 1960, then by her mother, Rose Costello, in 1983.

The gown is her “something borrowed.”

Haloing her youthful face and flowing the length of the impossibly full peau de soie skirt, Elder wore a hand-woven lace veil that seemed made for the dress, though it was first worn by her father's great grandmother, Jeanette Beattie, at her wedding 60 years earlier on April 10, 1900.

The veil is Elder's “something old.”

“I always knew that I wanted to wear this dress,” Elder said. She and her sisters used to fight over who would wear the dress, but Elder's wedding came first.

“I love the style. It's not like what everybody else is wearing. And the meaning behind it means much more than anything else.”

When the Elders became engaged July 2, 2011, the bride's family got busy restoring the gown and veil, unsure of whether either would be in good enough shape for Elder's wedding.

Elder's maternal grandmother mailed the gown from New York — both its previous weddings were held in St. Patrick's Cathedral. The original veil had not aged to the same color as the gown; they didn't match.

Elder's paternal grandmother mailed her veil, which had also been worn in New York by Beattie. It was a perfect match to the gown.

The gown may have originally been sent from God — its purchase was facilitated by Fulton Sheen, the well-known Roman Catholic Archbishop who recently took one step closer to sainthood, having been deemed venerable by the pope. Sheen, who died in 1979, was a cousin of the bridegroom and performed the Holligers' wedding. He helped Yolanda Holliger choose the gown that her daughter and granddaughter would eventually wear in their weddings.

“She had really good taste because it held up for a long time. I loved it. Obviously my daughter loves it 52 years later,” Costello said. The tiny stature the grandmother, mother and daughter share is what allowed them to all wear the petite dress.

When the dress arrived in Oklahoma, it was clear that some repairs would need to be made. Parkway Cleaners in Edmond recommended the family take the gown to Claire Kennedy in Nichols Hills. Kennedy has been designing, restoring and reimaging wedding gowns and debutante gowns for 30 years.

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by Heather Warlick
Life & Style Editor
Since graduating from University of Central Oklahoma with a Bachelor's Degree in Journalism, Staff Writer Heather Warlick has written stories for The Oklahoman's Life section. Her beats have included science, health, home and garden, family,...
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There's an extra special feeling of tradition, responsibility. You're entering into kind of a club of the family where you now have to live up to your mom, your grandmother, your aunts.”

Claire Kennedy

Nichols Hills seamstress who restored a wedding gown worn by three generations

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