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Wedding dresses through the years

We asked readers to send in photos of vintage wedding gowns. Some readers sent in their own photo or one of their mother, grandmother or great-grandmother. These are some of the photos we received.
By Katelyn Kelly Published: June 27, 2013

Nothing ordinary about this one

Queen Victoria made it popular for brides to wear white. This was not the case for Wilhemina Sonner Pfefferle when she married her husband on Feb. 5, 1891. Pfefferle wore a black dress with a white veil. But there was nothing ordinary about their marriage. Judith Carr, Pfefferle's granddaughter, said they were true partners in their marriage. An example of this can be seen by how they are standing side by side in the photo.

Old World touches

Marie Nyquist Hult came from Sweden to America at a young age. While her dress had a more flowing silhouette, a style introduced in the 1910s, the Swedish styles were prominent. The gown was trimmed with white fur, and the veil with typical Swedish style foliage, said Beverly Lee, Hult's daughter.

Sometimes shorter is better

The gown Edith Pfefferle wore June 21, 1928, fit right in with the trends of the '20s. Coco Chanel introduced the world to a new style of wedding dress that featured a shorter hemline with a long tulle train. Pfefferle's hemline was finished in 10-inch-wide lace to lengthen the dress because her father wouldn't walk her down the aisle if she wore a dress with a “dippy hem,” said Judith Carr, Pfefferle's daughter.

Untraditional approach

Because of World War II and the Depression, wedding dresses were simpler. Some brides often wore the nicest dress in their closets. Mr. and Mrs. J.R. Carter were married in June of 1938 in a hurry because they both had to get back to work. Mrs. Carter wore a pink dress, white hat and white shoes. Frankie Terrell, the Carters' daughter, said her father took off his coat and rolled up one of his pant legs so it wouldn't get caught in his bicycle chain on his way to get her mother. This photo was taken after they were married.

Memories last a lifetime

A mother's love for her daughter created the wedding gown Rosamond L. Miller wore for her wedding on March 9, 1940. Miller's mother stained the satin and lace in tea to get the right shade of ivory, said Karen Kuntz Maloy, Miller's daughter. Wedding gowns in the '40s had a more minimal design. Miller's simplistic gown was accented with buttons her mother covered in material. Miller saved the gown all these years. It is now being made into bears for her daughter, granddaughter and great-granddaughter, Maloy said.

Wedding on a whim

During World War II, there was often little time to plan a wedding. The timing was often decided by the groom's commanding officer. Dresses were also simpler and more practically designed. These both played a part in the gown Marian Hetherington chose for her wedding. Her husband, Clark, a commissioned Army officer, received orders to be transferred to the East Coast before shipping off for war, said Steve Hetherington, Marian's son. The couple had one week to plan the wedding before coming to Norman. Marian's uncle bought this dress on a quick shopping trip. In the rush of planning the wedding, Clark told everyone about the wedding except his parents, Steve said.

Vision turned to reality

Carol Kay Wheeler Ward found the Vogue pattern for her wedding gown at an Oklahoma City store. Ward picked out the fabric while in Oklahoma City in just a few minutes. Her daughter, Prentice Redman, said that is humorous because she is very indecisive. On July 28, 1957, Ward said “I do” in a dress with an essence of the gown Grace Kelly wore a year before. Similarities can be seen in the long sleeves and sweetheart neckline with lace overlay. The seamstress who made the gown made a duplicate gown for a doll, which Redman has kept.

Dress made for five

It was love at first sight when Leah Rae Hayes-Kessler laid eyes on her wedding gown for her June 5 wedding in 1953. Her gown embraced the decade with the lace tiers and short veil. The dress from Halliburton's in Oklahoma City was worth the $98. Five brides, including Hayes-Kessler, have walked down the aisle in this '50s-style gown, said her daughter, Holly Heim. The other brides include Heim, her sister, sister-in-law and mother's best friend.

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