A few years ago, I think I was in my second to last year in design school, my class took a field trip to the De Young Museum in San Francisco where there was an exhibit held for the ever brilliant designer, Balenciaga. I knew his name and was familiar with a couple of his pieces, but once we walked through the doors and I saw display after display of his work, I literally felt a warm sensation in my heart, like it was melting. Balenciaga was in the prime of his career in the 1950s and 1960s, he trained under Christian Dior. His aesthetic spoke to me in a way only black and white movies and vintage vogue magazines can. As I walked through and stopped to examine all his gorgeous work, there was a dress in particular that caught my eye. I stared at it for far too long and took note of the name of the gown and the year he created it so I could go home and google more about it. Ah! It was incredible! I found the original photo shoot taken with that dress and saved the picture to use as inspiration, whenever the time may come.
As Zach and I began to talk seriously of marriage, I knew I planned to make my own wedding dress, but how could I ever choose which style to go with!? There are way too many gorgeous silhouettes and eras to choose from! Should I try something sleek and drapey like a 30s bombshell? Did I want simple lines or ruffles and frills? Should I go for lace, satin, chiffon, tulle…!? This is why I so desperately need to become a bridal designer. There are too many ideas and designs in my head and I need an outlet. But my own wedding day; that was a huge commitment. How did I always want to be remembered? The option occurred to me to try a voluminous dress since I would never ever have another excuse to wear a giant gown. The more that thought rolled around in my head the more I began to convince myself I needed to wear a ballgown just once in my life. I’m not sure at what point in all these wedding dress musings I thought back to that Balenciaga gown, but I know that once I saw the image in my head, there was no going back. I had finally made up my mind and that was that. I wasn’t going to attempt to recreate it of course, but I was going to use it as inspiration to create my own design.
Dreamy and gorgeous, right!?
People kept telling me I would go crazy if I tried to make my own wedding dress and I knew they were probably right, but… am I a designer or am I a designer!? I mean this with all humility, but I knew no one could craft my own design better than I could. Still, I could admit there was some truth to what everyone was saying. I was planning a wedding, working full time, trying to find a place for us to live as newly weds, and designing for Provo Fashion Week. What’s a girl to do? Because I was so pressed for time I thought I could save myself some grief and buy a dress online. That way I could completely take it apart and remake it rather than starting from scratch. At least that gave me a skeleton to work with. I found a tulle ankle length dress for $140 online and removed the bodice completely. I bought a hoop skirt on eBay because I figured if I was going to go big I might as well go all the way. Once I put the tulle skirt and hoop skirt on my dress form, Vivian, I realized the hoop was too wide for the skirt. I had to cut into the satin layer under the tulle and add 6”-7” inch wide panels to the front and the back in order for the skirt to lie nicely over the hoops.
The bodice was a little harder for me to make up my mind about. I already had the design of course, but what fabric to use!? It had to be gold, of that I was sure, but did I want an intricate gold beaded fabric? Gold lace? How about brocade? That’s what I landed on. I took a Saturday trip up to SLC with my mother to check out a darling little fabric shop called Tissu and the second I walked through the doors I found it. It was that easy! Do you understand how rare that is? I never seem to find the fabric my mind so desperately wants for its designs. The gold and cream floral brocade was perfect and only cost $40. I brought it home and immediately got to work. I made a quick pattern for a circle skirt I used for the peplum and pulled out a simple bodice pattern for the top. As I was cutting it out I decided I wanted to make it a wide V-neck so I did a little detour off the pattern to make my own neckline. I enjoyed the effect it made on my neck and shoulders, the fabric stood up just ½” off my body. Awesome. There were a couple of days full of tweaking and hemming and taking it in here and there, but I finished it completely at the end of September and was totally ready to wear it to the temple come November 22nd. That’s the story of how this little white and gold wedding dress came to be. And the blush length veil? It just seemed like the perfect 60s touch to polish off the look. I went to Icings and found a faux diamond hair comb that coordinated well with my ring and the whole ensemble and then found some slightly shimmery gold tulle at the fabric store and whipped out that veil in less than an hour. I really enjoyed making it, I think I should make a few more and sell them online, just for the fun of it.
And if you’re interested in the woman behind the camera for these photos (and you absolutely should be!), I’ll tell you the story of finding my photographer as well. I searched long and hard for a photographer who I felt had a very different, artistic eye for my wedding photos. It was among my very highest priorities in all the wedding planning. Right up there with the dress! I felt like I needed all my sweat and tears to come to life through the perspective of my photographer so that it could be preserved for my posterity. Sentimentalities and record keeping has always been a thing for me. One day in early July I was perusing pinterest and I typed in “Provo temple weddings” to see if I could be inspired by any other weddings done in the Provo temple. I came across some photos that were absolutely incredible!! I fell in love with them and especially the photographer. I went to her website and found even more exciting wedding photos to make my heart skip! I just had to have this woman photograph my wedding. She seemed to attract artful brides and I hoped against hope that she could make my wedding come to life the way I had it all imagined in my head. I reached out to her and she responded by telling me she was due to have a baby end of October but that she was willing to do a bridal session for me a month or two before the wedding. She also gave me a great list of photographer recommendations, and really, they all looked equally sumptuous. (I found our photographer for the rest of our wedding through her and Zach and I loved her as well!) I was bummed that she couldn’t do my wedding but absolutely willing to take what I could get from her. I set the appointment for her to take some formal pictures of Zach and me in Salt Lake City a month and a half before our wedding date. What she did with us was pure magic. I love these photos and I hope our children and their children’s children will too. I’m all about family photos! Go see Brooke Shultz’s website and blog here. It will make your heart sing.
I’ll blog about the actual wedding day and the reception as soon as I get those photos back!