So for around ten years now I've been making wedding dresses for other brides, and over those ten years I've made all sorts, from mini dresses to big and poofy ones, plain and simple dresses to those covered in bling. You'd think I'd have some idea what I would make for myself when the time finally came.
I had no idea! Well, I had lots of idea's but couldn't figure out what I liked the most, and then when I did I realised it didn't suit my shape (and height!).
So I did what I think most of my customers do, I turned to Pinterest and saved all sorts of pictures, from 1950's Dior couture to bizarre current Avant-Garde creations!
Did I want white or a colour, long or short, slim or poofy, lace, bling? How was I going to decide?
I've been working with some amazing suppliers for years now, so the next thing I did was went through my folders of lace, I knew I definitely wanted lace, and I narrowed them down what I liked. I have hundreds to pick from so it took a while! I then ordered some hangers to have a better look, but none of them grabbed my attention. They were all lovely, but just didn't get me excited about my dress. I think when you've worked on so many dresses with so many fabrics and laces, you've kind of seen everything before.
I've always loved guipure lace, so that was where I started focussing my attention. Suddenly my mums wedding dress popped into my head, I'd always loved the lace on her dress. Could I ask her to have it and cut it up? She was never going to let me. She made it herself, and has kept it packed away since she wore it in 1970, I knew how precious it was to her.
A couple of days later I was chatting to mum, and I though, lets just ask, you never know. I was absolutely gobsmacked when she said yes! I was so happy, but at the same time, I knew I couldn't mess this up, what if I chopped up her treasured dress that she'd made herself and kept all these years, and didn't even end up wearing it!!
I had a call form mum a couple of days later, she told me the lace had discoloured and was a bit yellow. I couldn't believe it, I'd been so excited about getting it. Mum asked me how she could clean it, I had no idea, what do you risk putting on 47 years old precious irreplaceable lace?
Mum called me a few days later. The dress was bright white again. She bleached it, yes that's right, she actually bleached it! It was good as new. When I received the long awaited parcel a couple of days later I was astonished it didn't smell of swimming pools. It was bright white and smelled pretty good too!
So now what, what was I going to do with it, I only had a small amount of lace to work with, and I really didn't have a clue what to do next!
At this point I called my friend Suki, she's worked in fashion for the last 20 years, and I know she's always going to be honest with me. After an evening of playing around with the big pile of fabrics I'd ordered we started getting somewhere. (She also kept saying Peekaboo, think she wanted some kind of flap thing going on!).
So at this point I'd narrowed it down to:- Mums bright white lace, some pink chunky lace, and lots of different tulle in green and pink shades. It was going to be tea length and very poofy.
I started off by making the skirt, with that many layers of tulle I knew it was going to take a long time. I added up how much tulle once it was made, the combined layers of tulle hem added up to 156 metres! (it was big).
While I was working on it, and seeing the colours together I spotted some fabric on my workbench that matched the colours perfectly. It was a flamingo print I'd bought to make my daughter a dress. It was perfect for the flower girls, page boy and deputy best man! I went back to the shop and bought all they had of it! I knew straight away what I was going to make them.
So the next stage of my dress was to get the bodice made. I decided on a simple shape, and it was definitely having straps, the bra is one of the best inventions ever, and I was going to wear one!
The next step was to just start layering up the lace, and start putting it all together. I really did just make it up as I went along at this stage, which was great fun.
I ordered a big selection of beads, as I had no idea what I was going to use, but I was so pleased with how the beading turned out. (I now have a lot of leftover beads!)
I felt a lot of pressure that my dress had to be amazing, as every single guest at the wedding knew what I did for a living, and I think a lot of people expected it to be a bit crazy. I thought it might be a bit unusual, maybe a bit crazy, but like every other bride just wanted to look nice. I didn't want to look back at photo's and think "what on earth were you thinking". I think my husband was a little bit worried I might look totally crazy, and he looked very relieved that I didn't. He put on his best Bristol accent and told me I looked a-meez-an.
How can I ever thank mum enough for not only letting me cut up her treasured dress, but also helping me finish the last little bits the night before the wedding (yes that's right!) as by this stage I was too nervous to even sew! If the dress brings me as many happy years of marriage as it has her so far then I will be a very lucky lady.
Thanks also to Pat and Adam for pinching their photo's, for Suki for her help, and for Lee for telling me I looked A-Meez-An!
(professional photo's to follow soon :o)