It was New Orleans 1958. She wore a crown of pearl and jewels releasing a royal length veil of gossamer illusion. Her gown was a sheath silhouette of white chantilly lace over silver lame. With long fitted point sleeves and a Sabrina neckline, her royal cathedral train floated across the ballroom. With John by her side as her date for the evening, Dorothy looked just like a young queen bride with her royal court at the ball. It was one of New Orleans’ famous costume balls, and at the center of the evening’s fabulous celebration was a young couple who had just met the summer before; a romance that blossomed into a loving marriage still celebrated today.
Dorothy’s cousin, Rosalie, introduced the teens on her front porch one summer day in 1957. Rosalie and John had grown up in the same New Orleans neighborhood.
“Rosalie suggested that I ask Dot for a date,” John remembers, “I did and was turned down because she had a previous engagement. My interest peaked when she offered me a ‘rain check,’ and I accepted.”
“He asked what I meant [asking for a rain check] since he had only heard that phrase in baseball,” Dorothy says, “I said, ‘I really would like to go out with you.’”
The young bride-to-be found her wedding gown in a bridal magazine. The same seamstress who made Dorothy’s royal ball gown also made her wedding gown. “She actually cut the fabric for my gown and pinned it on me – no pattern!” Dorothy remembers.
John and Dorothy married August 25, 1962, at St. Leo the Great Catholic Church in New Orleans. The bride’s stunning diamond white tissue taffeta gown was stunning and classic. It was clear she had an eye for style and a passion for making her wedding day a beautiful celebration. Over the next half century, she would help hundreds of brides do the same.
John and Dorothy Kelly broke into the bridal business in the 1970s. They had moved to Stillwater, Oklahoma, in 1975, opening a jewelry and clothing shop on the strip.
“We were looking for a change,” John says, “and bridal was suggested by some of our contacts in the clothing industry. Then we went to the Dallas bridal market and visited with some of the representatives and manufacturers.”
After their experience at market, the Kellys were enthusiastic about moving forward with a new adventure. They soon found success, and moved to Oklahoma City, where J.J. Kelly Bridal has been a staple in Oklahoma for 36 years. A true family business, brides and their families can expect to work with the Kellys anytime they set foot in the breathtaking bridal boutique. Some of John and Dorothy’s favorite memories are working with their son, daughter, and niece, and their trips to New York to meet with designers and bring back fresh ideas and exquisite new lines to share with Oklahoma brides.
“We came from families with business backgrounds and were able to put their advice and business practices to good use,” John says, “our success came down to being able to work together, and give our customers great service along with a good product.”
As John and Dorothy Kelly celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary, they’re thankful for their wonderful family, the incredible memories they’ve made in their life together, and getting to be part of the most beautiful day in the lives of couples’ lives all across Oklahoma. While their goal is to make every bride know her special day is unique, the Kellys’ advice to a successful wedding and marriage remains the same.
“Find the perfect gown, have a great time, and don’t worry about the small stuff,” Dorothy says.
“A good marriage lasts when there is commitment,” John says, “sharing the good times, loyalty and respect for each other’s wants and needs, and if you’re fortunate, a lot of family support.”
As they celebrate their golden wedding anniversary, John and Dorothy are looking forward to the years ahead. Loving parents and grandparents, countless memories are still to come in their family’s legacy. And with the same spirit and excitement they shared decades ago as a young couple just breaking into the bridal business, they look forward to the next chapter at J.J. Kelly Bridal, where every bride truly sparkles, love is celebrated, and unforgettable wedding dreams come true.