— When Allison Rinaldi got married two months ago, she didn’t need to think twice about her "something old." Since she was a little girl, she knew she’d be in the same dress that her great-great grandmother, grandmother, mother and aunt wore down the aisle. She even tried it on when she was 15 and thought, 'someday I'll wear it.'"
"Someday" came on June 11 in St. Louis, when Allison wed Chris Rinaldi, a Louisiana native and a graduate student at Stanford University. The two met as undergrads at Washington University in St. Louis.
"I always wanted to wear it," the 23-year-old graphic artist said in an interview this morning on TODAY. "It’s a big family tradition for us and I wanted to be part of the legacy.”
The legacy began in 1884 when Allison’s paternal great-grandmother, Nellie, married A.G. Shellito in 1884 in Iowa. The dress then skipped a generation, until Allison’s grandmother, Jean, married John Shellito in 1941. Allison’s Aunt Barbara wore it next, some 34 years later.
The last woman to wear the dress before Allison was her mother, Mimi, when she married Allison’s father, Jack Shellito, in 1982.
Made of tone-on-tone ecru silk brocade and patterned with chrysanthemum flowers, the gown has been meticulously preserved in linen sheets and stored in a closet. The dress made a rare non-wedding appearance this morning when the three women brought it to the TODAY studios.
“I was very fortunate to receive it from my mother-in-law in close-to-perfect condition,” said Mimi.
The dress has weathered so well that Allison barely made any alterations. The only thing she had to do was go on a diet so she could fit into it.
“It's definitely not a size six which is what I am,” she said. “I had to diet, exercise and work with a trainer. But, the truth is I would've gone on a ‘wedding diet’ anyway. So many women do.”
To ensure that dress remained in perfect condition, Allison changed into a 1960s cocktail dress for her reception.
All of the women agree that the garment's true beauty lies in its history.
“When I wore this on my wedding day it meant a lot to me to be connected with those marriages that went before,” Barbara told TODAY.