Here’s How to Rewear Your Mother’s Wedding Gown

A bride shares her story about wearing her mother’s wedding dress for her own nuptials 

Pictured above is Grace Godwin on her big day wearing her mother's wedding dress | Photography by Hallie Kohler

Grace Goodwin donned her mother’s wedding dress to her April 2019 wedding to Sam Dwyer. Priscilla Goodwin wore the original gown, purchased from Garfinckel’s in DC, in August 1982, in her own wedding with husband Michael Goodwin. Here’s Grace’s story on how she was able to alter the gown and rewear the heirloom on her very own wedding day. 

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Some 30 years after Priscilla Goodwin married her high-school sweetheart in a timeless satin-and-lace gown featuring elegant sleeves and a feminine silhouette, she pulled the neatly-preserved dress from packing to show it to her daughter, Grace. “I was in college,” Grace remembers, when, for fun, she tried it on. To their surprise, the ’80s gown “fit like a glove,”; it reminded them of Kate Middleton’s memorable lace-sleeved wedding dress. “It had faded from bright white to a creamy ivory color, but I actually prefer the latter,” says Grace.

Pictured above is Godwin’s mom, Priscilla in the original wedding dress.

She didn’t meet her match Sam for another seven years, but after she said “Yes!” to Sam in Nashville in 2018, she drove to her parents’ Alexandria home to confirm that her mother’s gown was still “the one.” To give the vintage dress an update, Grace and her mother took the heirloom to Green and Blue Studio in Dupont Circle for alterations. They didn’t change much, but the seamstress created a fresh feel by taking in the sleeves for a modern, fitted look. She also removed fabric from the back to style a less conservative open V, and Grace chose to skip her mother’s crinoline in favor of a more flowy, less voluminous silhouette—a better fit, she says, for her April wedding’s outdoor ceremony and relaxed vibe. “Getting to wear my mom’s dress was such a special experience to share with her,” she says. “She and I are different in many ways—we have different body types, complexions, and senses of style. Nevertheless, the dress fit each of us perfectly.” From the moment she stepped into it for the first time, Grace says she knew she would wed in the same gown her mother wore. 


This article was featured in our Winter/Spring 2020 issue

Assistant Editor, Washingtonian Weddings

Jacqueline comes to Washingtonian with close to five years of digital content experience and SEO best practices. She previously was a senior editorial associate at WeddingWire, specializing in wedding fashion, and before that, an assistant at Vow Bride. Originally from Norfolk, Virginia, she now lives in Columbia Heights.