Pilar O’Hara Kassouf, 27, was the most recent woman in her family to wear the dress made by her great-grandmother when she wed Nick Kassouf in September in Orange, California.
“Once I tried the dress on, I knew,” O’Hara Kassouf told ABC News. “I couldn’t look anywhere else after that. It fit perfectly and didn’t need any alterations, so that was another sign.”
O’Hara Kassouf’s great-grandmother, Maria Teresa Moreno, was a mother of four who learned how to sew before she came to the United States from Mexico as a young woman.
Moreno, who was known as “Grande” to her family, sewed her own wedding dress for her 1932 wedding to Manuel Moreno in Los Angeles.
“She was a very frugal woman who worked hard,” said Marta Prietto O’Hara, Moreno’s granddaughter and O’Hara Kassouf’s mother.
When O’Hara got married in 1983, she wore her grandmother’s wedding gown.
“When I saw the fabric I fell in love with it and the dress was in perfect condition,” O’Hara said of the crepe-back satin fabric dress. “I tried it on and I said, ‘I am wearing this dress.’”
O’Hara’s mom, who wore a dress made by Moreno at her wedding, and grandmother updated the dress by cutting a “V” in the back and adding lace trim and beading around the neckline.
They also trimmed off some of the dress’s original nine-foot train.
When O’Hara tried the dress on before her wedding, one of her sisters, Elena Salinas, was close by watching.
“I was at our mom’s house when Marta tried it on and I thought, ‘Oh, let me try it on, too,’” said Salinas, who was just out of high school at the time. “I knew. I said, ‘Forget it. I’m wearing this, too.’”
When Salinas tied the knot in 1997, she became the third family member to wear her grandmother’s dress down the aisle.
“When I got engaged, I was like, ‘Wedding dress, check,’” Salinas recalled. “It’s just a gorgeous dress.”
O’Hara Kassouf wore the same tiara that Salinas wore at her wedding. She also continued a family tradition by becoming the sixth woman in the family to wear Moreno’s earrings at her wedding.
In addition to the dress worn by O’Hara Kassouf, O’Hara and Salinas, Moreno made wedding gowns for nearly every family member before she died in 2008 at age 98.
“The reason my mom and her sister didn’t wear my grandmothers’ dress is that my grandmother wanted to make each of her daughters their dream wedding dress,” O’Hara said. “She would go to a bridal store with tape measure and would take pictures and get patterns and design the dresses that way.”
O’Hara Kassouf said she felt Moreno’s presence on her wedding day while wearing her gown.
“You can just feel that she was there with us,” she said. “I just know she’s looking down on this and beaming, probably laughing a little bit too that we’re getting all this attention.”
O’Hara Kassouf has two sisters in their 20s who could be the next to wear the gown.
Salinas said her two teenage daughters have also said they want to wear their great-great-grandmother’s gown at their own future weddings.