my Wedding–part 2: The Dress

Yesterday I shared My Wedding, part 1: the colors, decor, and style.
Today let’s talk about the dress!
When it came to choosing a style, I was all over the map. Part of me wanted something sleek and classy, like Carloyn Bessette’s timeless dress. Another part wanted poofy huge or Vera Wang dark. How cool are the black touches on the left? Maybe accented with dark autumn feathers? And then a very patriotic side of me wanted a red, white, and blue dress. Literally.
When I lived in LA, there was a darling bridal shop in Beverly Hills that showcased a collection of patriotic wedding gowns (I snapped the photos above from their window displays). Every time I drove by I dreamt of a 4th of July wedding with the bride in red/white/blue and everyone else in white and black. Just think of the pretty decor! Silver sparkly touches. Homemade strawberry ice cream. Fireworks at the end? It would be really fun. And I’m sure my Mom thought I was crazy.

Well, I got married in October.
So it was back to the drawing board.

My new inspiration? The Oscars.
That year, Kate Winslet walked the red carpet in a gorgeous red gown with flowers cascading over her shoulder. I loved it. And I knew that’s where I wanted to go. So I drew up a sketch, with a more modest vibe.
Now finding a pre-made modest wedding dress in a store is well, almost impossible. And I’m not talking sleeves down to your wrists. I’m just talking about sleeves in general. For some reason there’s this unspoken belief that every bride wants to wear a sleeveless gown. And maybe that’s changed in the past 7 years since I shopped for a gown. But I wish more modern designers would come out their take on sleeves. Something along these lines would be gorgeous.

Well, if I couldn’t find it in the store the next choice was to have it made. And no way was I going to try it myself. I wasn’t as confident with my sewing back then. And in all honesty I’m not sure I’d attempt it today either!

So my boss at work recommended this cute Armenian woman–Karine–who she used often to create tailored pants and jackets for her wardrobe. Karine worked for Bob Mackie, sewing red carpet gowns for Hollywood stars. In the evenings, she took sewing jobs out of her house to pay those crazy Calif bills. So I went to her Van Nuys home, showed her my sketches, and she immediately got it. Sure, I can do that!

My mom and I went to the LA fabric district and picked out the white satin for my dress. I have no idea what we paid per yard. But I think we spent about $100 for all the fabric. Then Karine went to work. I wanted the dress to cut as low in front (as modesty permitted) and come to a V in the back, with diagonal draping “pleats” across the front. The plan was to do the white cascading flowers from the front and over the shoulder, like Kate. But in the long run it was just too busy looking. So instead, we went for a small flower on the side.
After 3 fittings, some tweaking, and Karine telling me that I had gained a few pounds from the previous fitting (sorry), she finished my gorgeous dress. I was amazed.

This was long before I had ever attempted sewing without patterns or coming up with my own designs. So I had no idea how Karine was doing this! I’m still no expert. But watching enough seasons of Project Runway and tackling my own sewing projects have filled in the gaps a bit.
The dress has no train in the back but is just a few inches longer than the front, with 3 layers of tulle (and leftover dirt from my wedding day) to make it poof out slightly. I wanted 3/4 length fitted sleeves–which would make it impossible to bend my arms–so we went with elbow length. The bodice is a simple design with the first and last pleats hand-sewn to the front of the gown. The other pleats fold and drape freely. The back has an invisible zipper and the whole thing is lined.
Just like that I had a one-of-a-kind wedding dress. I loved it!

And since you’re probably wondering what it cost?…
Well, I’m a little shocked thinking back on this. Only $800. Sheesh, I should have paid her more.

Thank you Karine! wherever you are now.
You made me feel special on my special day!

Ready for bridal photos?

A few months ago I asked Katie Evans Photography if she’d take updated pictures of me. She was wonderful and I love how they turned out. The blue wall is especially fun and the setting sun is just perfect. If you haven’t checked out Katie’s photo ebook….she now sells a hard/printed copy too. And she’s teaching a workshop here in Austin on October 22! (funny….that’s our wedding date.)

Okay…Me, the bride.
7 years after the fact.
On my wedding day, the flowers were red and hot pink. Today I used a napkin wallflower in chartreuse and turquoise. It worked great with the blue background.
Casey looked at this picture and commented, it doesn’t look like you. What’s with the red lipstick? What girl doesn’t want an excuse to wear red lipstick? I should do it more often.
Okay, this is more like the girl he married:
And you know, looking at a bunch of photos of yourself is always odd. You critique everything about the way you look, the way you stand, your smile…or non-smile. I’ve decided that some people are perfect at the “serious” look, like Kathleen of Grosgrain. She’s got those lovely chiseled features. Me? I think I’m more of a smiler than a serious cat.
Thank you Katie for making me feel special 7 years later!
Have a great weekend everyone.

Leave a Comment