Sunday, June 30, 2013

Top o' the Mornin' to ya! - Ali and Danny

I had the opportunity several months ago to work on a friend's cousin's wedding gown. Her name is Alison, and she comes from a very Irish family. Another absolute sweetheart, she came by referral based off of the work I had done for Jacqui last year. (Speaking of, congratulations to Jacqui and Kevin on your slightly belated one year!!)

Ali's wedding was on March 17, St. Patrick's Day. It was another situation of a dress being bought, and then changed.

Originally, she had bought a satin gown, white and kelly green, with gorgeous embroidery and beading. However the attendant at the salon, upon hearing that Ali's dream was to have the corset back in the gown, told her to buy it a size smaller than she normally wears. ~Note to EVERYONE, EVERYWHERE~ Never do this. The style lines DO NOT FIT your body.

Enter me. I took a look at the gown, and told her that I could make it work the way she wanted it to, but that I would have to take it almost completely apart and refit all of the seams so that it looked like it was meant for her shape. She agreed to think about it, and I went home.

A week or so later (and this all was back in January, mind you), and I met her, her mom and sister at the same salon. She was going back to look and see if she could find anything else. One perk of this particular salon - you can exchange gowns.

So we had about a two hour session of her trying on gowns. Success! She found a lace gown which was more in line with what she was looking for originally. Her dream was to have a gown with sleeves - a la Ariel from The Little Mermaid.

This gown fit Ali better, and she felt more comfortable in it. You can't discount the weight of the fabric for your wedding - most brides want to be able to dance all night at the reception! It was amazing to watch her walking back and forth in the gown before the mirrors, because I got to see her fall in love with the gown. There are some things that words can't describe, and this is one of those that you need to see to understand.

I met her fiancĂ©, Danny, at their cousin's surprise birthday party shortly after that afternoon, and Ali introduced me as the 'woman who was going to make her dreams come true'. His response, "But I thought that was me?!" To which I said, "Woman vs. man. One day, one gown vs. for life. Slight difference!"

So the lace gown came home with Ali's mom. The lace pleated into the center front, where there was an embroidered  applique with beading, and the sweetheart neckline had beading around the bodice. There was a train which needed to be bustled, and a few points where some beading thread needed to be pulled taut again and everything secured.

In order to make everything work, I had to remove about half of the beading around the top of the bodice in order to let out the side seams. I created mesh sleeves for her, draping fabric around her outstretched arm to make the pattern, and these went to a point on the back of her hands, with elastic bands to go around her middle fingers to secure them. In a local fabric and crafts store, I found shank buttons, iridescent just-enough-off-white plastic, with carvings of a rose. They matched the gown amazingly, and were used to hold the bustle.

Several fittings, days of bead-work (thanks Mom!), and one all-nighter later, the gown was ready. Over the course of the fittings, I wound up agreeing to hem her mother and sister's gowns, and doing the makeup for all three on the day of the wedding.

So, on St Patrick's Day (which was a Sunday this year), I was up and out of the house at 8 am, complete with gowns, portable fabric steamer, and my makeup kit, and over at Ali's mother's house. Three makeovers, four-ish hours, and family photos later, and the bride and her party were ready to go. One of my friends from church, Rachel, did the hair for all three, and is spectacular at what she does.

Probably the sweetest portion of this was that Ali wanted both of us to come see the wedding as well. The church is in my town, and it's a beautiful white-washed building with an organ in the loft, stained glass, and just a little jewel in the center of the village. I was confused for her sister (don't ask me why, it's not like I was wearing the wedding colors in my butterfly-print dress), but found the family of hers that I've known to sit with, and waited. Rachel came in with her mom (yet another family friend - what can I say, it's a small town?) and we all wound up chatting before the ceremony began.

Ali walked into the church accompanied by a bagpipe player in full dress in the loft. The ceremony was fairly short, with several laughs - make sure your minister says to the groom 'do you take this woman' and to the bride 'do you take this man', and not 'do you take this woman' to both! - and when we went outside and the happy couple was announced, instead of throwing birdseed or rice or rose petals, we threw Lucky Charms! ...I have to admit, I ate the marshmallow charms and only threw the grain bits, but I figured it would be healthier for any birds that managed to find them...

You can't really see the beading detail, and the mesh sleeves almost match her skin tone, but they were a silk mesh that was the same color as the gown. I love this photo because it so beautifully displays the lace. And because Danny and Ali look incredible, and very happy.

You can see the beading on the bodice, and at the top of the sleeves here. The end of the sleeves had the same beading pattern. Ali's veil complemented the gown's details amazingly well, with beading along the scalloped edge that echoed the lace scallops at the hem.
Ali's not a girly-girl by nature, so it was wonderful to see her get so excited by everything and to be so happy about the gown. This is what makes everything worth-while for me. Seeing the brides be so excited about their gowns, helping them to not stress about just one more thing, and getting to play a small part in their happiness. Everything I put myself through and the time I put into these gowns is all worth it.

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