As a young girl, Eunice Kennedy Shriver never dreamed of wearing her grandmother's wedding dress when she grew up. But when fate intervened, the 26-year-old's walk down the aisle on a sunny Miami day in October was an homage to her late namesake.
Kennedy Shriver always had a special bond with her grandmother, who passed away in 2009, but when she got engaged in 2019, it never occurred to her to wear the philanthropist's stunning lace Dior gown. She even tried on several dress options while planning her wedding to Michael Serafin Garcia, 31.
"I had always just assumed her dress was gone, and then when my family found it two years ago, I kind of forgot about it because I wasn’t even engaged at the time," she told TODAY by phone.
But when Kennedy Shriver's father, Anthony Shriver, reminded her that his mother's gown was still an option, she gave it another look while vacationing at the family's summer home in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts. Still, it wasn't quite what she'd expected.
"It wasn’t destroyed, but it was pretty fragile and there were tons of holes and weather stains," she said, explaining that all that remained of the gown was the skirt and train.
Kennedy Shriver, who works as a manager at Best Buddies International, the nonprofit founded by her father, wasn't sure that the gown could be restored but found a specialist who was willing to take on the job. And the photos of the finished piece, which are featured in a new Vogue story, are simply gorgeous.
Since the gown's top and veil were missing, the 26-year-old sported a new bodice and veil, and her seamstress added some volume to the underskirt of the dress. Since she and her grandmother were a similar size on their wedding days, the waist and length didn't require alterations.
The bride began the dress restoration process in September and was grateful the garment was ready in time for her October nuptials.
"It came out beautiful. It's great and it ended up being perfect," she said.
Kennedy Shriver and Garcia, who met at an exercise class and dated for two years before getting engaged in September 2019, were originally supposed to get married in front of 200 guests. But when COVID-19 cases across the country began to rise again in the summer, the couple decided to limit their ceremony to immediate family members only — a total of 32.
When all was said and done, the bride, who had always dreamed of a smaller ceremony anyway, was thrilled that she had her closest family members on hand to celebrate the big day. She also surprised her groom with a group of friends who were waiting to celebrate with the couple after the main reception ended.
Kennedy Shriver's father also had a nice surprise in store for his daughter: a drive to the church in his mother's beloved baby blue 1965 Lincoln Continental. He had been working to restore it for over a year, and it just so happened to be ready on the day of his little girl's wedding.
"I just felt like all these parts of my grandmother were with me, even though none of it was really planned until almost last minute," the newlywed said. "It all worked together and I felt like that was her making everything click."
The gorgeous gown is currently in the capable hands of the seamstress who restored it, and it will soon go into a box for safekeeping.
"Hopefully we’ll have it forever and even if no one ever wears it again, I still think it's a beautiful dress," the newlywed said. "It's so incredible that my grandmother picked something that still looks cool in 2020."