Wedding Dress Passed Down 3 Generations


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N.D. ( – Something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue; the old time wedding tradition.

Jenna Galegher was able to fulfill at least two of those traditions with a wedding dress that was passed down to her.

In 1947, Esther Mertz purchased a wedding dress at the S&L store in Jamestown. At the time, the wedding dress was a very expensive $100. Esther was the oldest in the family and after some discussion with her parents, it was agreed that she would help her father make hay in order to pay the amount back. Esther married Reinhold Opp on November 27th, 1947 in Streeter, North Dakota.

39 years later, Pamelyn Opp was planning a wedding to John Galegher. It was then that Pamelyn had asked her mother about the dress. It was found in a foot locker in the garage and had not been cleaned since Esther’s wedding. The dress was placed in a bath tub and soaked with OxiClean until it was cleaned. Pam then added shoulder pads to make the sleeves puffier and stitched some pearl beading on the bodice.

Pam and John were married September 13th, 1986.

Flash forward to 2017 with Pam and John’s daughter Jenna planning a marriage to Peter Kulenkamp. It was then she became interested in her mother’s wedding dress. Pam found the dress had what looked to be chemical stains along the hemline, so she reverted back to the “soak in the tub” method until the stains dissipated.

Jenna then set to updating the dress as her mother did before her, designing sleeves of sheer fabric with lace insert at the wrist along with pearl edging. It took help from her mother and around 10 hours of sewing to complete the project.

Jenna and Peter’s wedding was held on October 21st, 2017 in the back yard of their family farm near Thompson, ND.

“Jenna looked gorgeous in the 70 year-old wedding dress,” the family stated.

Because of it’s age and the fragile seams, this may be the last time this dress is worn, but the family will be able to remember how special it was that 3 women from 3 generations could wear the same gown on their wedding days.

This story was submitted to the Napoleon Homestead and reprinted with their permission.

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