All Posts in Real Weddings

August 1, 2015

Carol – Custom Couture Mother-of-the-Groom Dress

Creating a couture garment is perhaps one of the most satisfying (in the thick of it) and rewarding (after the fact) activities. It's no walk in the park, however, and requires meticulous hand-work, continuous problem-solving, and extreme patience to get past the finish line. People often ask me about the pressure of working with such expensive and often irreplaceable materials, and catering to such demanding clients. Bottom line, you have to love it (or at least be well-compensated for it!). With any type of work that's so technique-oriented, it's the ability to apply intense focus, and to also walk away at intervals, that helps you navigate through the project. Having an incredibly skilled assistant named Aris also helps!

When my brother found his lady for life, I had the honor of making his beautiful wife's gown (blog post to come), the dress I wore (of course), a few rehearsal dinner ensembles, and also the dress my mom wore to the wedding as mother-of-the groom. My mom is a beautiful woman who takes amazing care of herself. She also works her ass off, yet always thinks first of her family and rarely treats herself to nice things. I could not have been happier to have the opportunity to create a custom, one-of-a-kind piece that made her look and feel like a million bucks (I wouldn't know exactly, but I guess that's a good feeling?)

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August 22, 2012

Tina & Shankar’s Hindu Wedding

Recently I had the fantastic opportunity to attend an Indian wedding with a friend. Having no prior connection to the bride or groom, I played no role in the wedding party attire, but very much enjoyed the ceremony and reception, as well as all the beautiful textiles, such as the above gorgeous colorful silk saris worn by ladies attending the wedding.

Tina and Shankar's Hindu wedding ceremony was based on five thousand year-old rituals from the Vedic wedding rites of ancient India. Their ceremony combined both Punjabi Khatri and Tamil Brahmin rituals, of which only a portion are documented below. The ceremony took place at the Shree Swaminarayan Temple in Somerset, New Jersey, and began sharply at 7:30 am with the Baraat, or the arrival of the groom and his family. The bride's family and priest greeted them outside the temple, and the bride's mother put tilak on Shankar's forehead. The Milni ceremony followed, marking a new relationship between the two families.

The party entered the temple, and a few rituals followed involving the groom. Then came the bride's entrance, or Kanya Aagman, which was a procession led by her female cousins and friends. She was then escorted to the mandap, the main area where the ceremony took place, consisting of four pillars representing the four vedas, or sacred texts of Hinduism. Tina and Shankar then exchanged floral garlands during the Jai Mala, signifying their union.

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October 29, 2011

Molly – Reclaimed Wedding Dress

Molly brought me her mom’s wedding dress from the 1970s, a cotton kaftan, to integrate into her own dress. We were able to use materials from her mom's dress and incorporate them into a fresh silhouette worthy of Molly’s adorable style.

We decided on a fun tea-length design with a fitted bodice, low back, and a full circle skirt. In looking for a more formal and structured exterior fabric than the muslin from her mom’s dress, we layered silk gazar over silk taffeta. I was able to use the cotton muslin from her mom's dress as inner layers of the bodice, and turned the crochet hem trim into straps. For a final subtle decorative element Molly selected her favorite embroidery pattern from her mom’s dress, which we appliquéd at the back bodice.

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October 29, 2011

Stephanie – Reclaimed Wedding Gown

Stephanie brought me her mother's wedding dress, which had been made by her grandmother and aunt in 1972. The dress was in great condition and the perfect length for Stephanie (she and her mom are quite similar in size). But the bodice was a bit dated and too covered-up, and the long train was not Stephanie's style. We decided to use the skirt portion of the dress (without the train), which was a satin with corded trim at the princess seams, and tailor it to Stephanie for a more contemporary fit.

We chose a halter neckline to frame Stephanie's beautiful face. We  created the bodice from materials I had in my library: an ivory silk satin in the same shade as the skirt, overlayed with a taupe re-embroidered lace from France. We added a ruched sash in taupe silk satin at the empire waistline, which tied in the back.

Here is Stephanie in her mom's dress (sans the bow veil!) before dismantling occurred

A benefit of being able to attend the wedding is being on-hand during pre-ceremony prepping. Helping the bride get dressed before the big event helps relieve any stress over last-minute styling decisions, and brings the dress to life for me. Plus there are typically countless other tasks to help contribute to, such as stitching corsages. Stephanie was relaxed and happy before her wedding, and enjoyed being surrounded by her mom and closest girlfriends.

The ceremony took place at an idyllic setting on a quiet lake at the Hanes (of underwear fame!) lodge and cabins near Elkin, NC.

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October 10, 2011

Rachel – Custom Bolero Jacket

As a laid-back and low-frills person, Rachel seeked out simple, yet elegant wedding solutions that also reflected her personal environmental and social consciousness. She found a cotton eco-conscious dress on Etsy from South American designer Zelaya. To soften and tailor the dress to Rachel, we garment washed it and added darts for shaping. We also created custom straps, and added a textured green suede trim at the empire waistline for a little colour accent.

To cover her shoulders and dress up the look slightly, we designed a custom bolero jacket in silk shantung lined in soft cotton voile.

Rachel & Tyler were married on the coast at Old Orchard Beach, Maine.

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December 1, 2010

Gabrielle – Custom Shrug & Veil

Gabrielle had already purchased a Lanvin dress to wear to her wedding, but approached me to create a custom shrug and veil to complete the look. For the shrug, we wanted something soft, unstructured, simple, and elegant to go with the dress. Since the dress had a lot of voluminous tiers, the shrug needed to be cropped in the back to sit just below the top of the dress. But we wanted the shrug to have some shape of its own, so I draped a silhouette (in just one pattern piece!) with full sleeves that tapered just past the elbows, and a curved front opening. For the materials, we picked a super soft cotton & silk jersey, and trimmed the neckline and hem with a double layer of raw edge bias-cut silk chiffon.

For the veil, we draped a custom blusher style in tulle that could be worn covering the face or pulled back and to the side.

Gabrielle and Lev were married at the Metropolitan Building in Long Island City, Queens, NYC.

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January 4, 2010

Jill – Reclaimed Wedding Dress

As founder and editor-in-chief of green design blog Inhabitat, Jill was only willing to go the sustainable route with her wedding attire. In addition to sourcing minimal impact materials, we wanted to design a dress indicative of Jill's sophisticated style, in a silhouette that was fun and fresh, and also re-wearable. We first started by exploring fabric options such as organic cotton tulles and silks, such as the below.

Jill was then offered her fiance's grandmother's Victorian wedding dress from circa 1900, which was a beautiful lace gown, completely deteriorated in most sections, but intact in others. Jill had already decided that she did not want a full-length gown, but I had to make sure that we had enough material from the vintage gown to create even a knee-length dress! Through careful cutting and efficient patternmaking, I was just able to make it work, utilizing the lace's scallop edges at the neckline and asymmetrical hemline of the dress.

The lace needed to be carefully cleaned and restored back to its original colour, as pictured below.

We both love the colour green, and decided on a hand-dyed ombre (green with a gradation from light to dark) silk charmeuse for the underlayer of the dress. From my collection of vintage lace trims, we selected one to use for the straps, which I dyed using green tea to   match the ivory of the dress lace.

The wedding and reception were held in San Francisco's beautiful Presidio Park, which tends to become cool at night, so we made a custom bolero jacket in a matching green to cover Jill's arms.

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January 3, 2010

Brooke – Romantic Silhouette for a Natural Setting

Brooke fell in love with a re-embroidered lace she found while perusing a fabric store with her mom in her midwest hometown. She came to me with the lace to design and create her wedding dress. We decided to contrast the white lace against a slightly darker fabric to show off its floral pattern, and to better flatter Brooke's complexion. We chose a luxurious, drapy double-sided silk satin for the underlayer to give the dress movement. After some experimentation, I washed and dyed the silk, resulting in a mocha shade with a super-soft suede-like hand.

For the neckline, Brooke wanted something with straps and coverage in the front, but was open to the idea of a low back. We utilized the scallop edge of the lace to detail the straps, front & back neckline, and hem. We wanted a long and elegant silhouette, with a flowy skirt and slight train. Since I was working with a pre-bought amount of fabric at a narrow width (characteristic of fine lace), I cut the pattern to maximize the fabric usage by adding skirt godets into all of the seams for added fullness at the hem.

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January 2, 2010

Lisa – Reclaimed Wedding Gown

Lisa brought me the wedding dress of her grandmother, who had previously passed, in the hopes that I could incorporate the fabric in some way into her own gown. She had her doubts, however, because her grandmother's dress had not been cleaned post-use, and endured a long life in a heavy smoker's house. While the lace itself had not deteriorated, the discoloration was one of the worst cases I had seen - completely yellowed and brown. I dismantled the dress and went to work cleaning the lace. Several days of intense stench-and-stain-releasing soaks, much to our surprise, resulted in a pure, bright white!

Based on the design of her grandmother's dress, there was not enough lace available to use as the primary fabric, but we worked it into the design by inserting into the front neckline and the many skirt godets. We paired the lace with white silk duchess satin and silk chiffon. The silhouette I designed for Lisa focused on a low back, with soft, sheer straps, an empire waistline, and a full fit-and-flare skirt.

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January 1, 2010

Marcia – Natural and Playful Wedding Gown

When Marcia first contacted me over email about having her custom wedding dress made, she provided many descriptors as to how she wanted to feel in her gown. To name a few: graceful, fun, elegant, sexy, playful, feminine, unique, and goddess-like. She was a slightly older bride who, while wanting to dress age-appropriately, was not afraid to have a gown that exuded youthfulness, and even fantasy. When I met Marcia and her then-fiance, Andy in person, it was immediately apparent how much life radiated from within each of them, and how completely in love they were with one another. Andy attended every fitting with enthusiasm and engagement, supporting any decision Marcia and I made during the process.

Having previously tried on some gowns at wedding salons, Marcia was appalled at how many "high-end" dresses were lined in nasty synthetic fabrics. She was very adamant about using only natural fibres in her dress, which is standard for me anyway. To achieve a soft and flowing silhouette, we selected a light-weight silk tissue chiffon for the draped and gathered overlay, and a supple silk double-sided satin for the underlayer. The neckline I designed was a wide-v in the front and low in the back, with off-the shoulder straps, to provide a sexy, yet comfortable, look. We highlighted Marcia's tiny waist with a fitted bodice, releasing the pleats at the hips for more ease and comfort through the skirt.

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