When we first started planning our wedding, I had romantic visions of me wearing my mother's gown and grandmother's veil, floating down the aisle in a swirl of tradition and satin.*
When I got my first good look at the dress (I'd only seen pictures before), I realized: my mother got married in the early 70s. She was THIN. No way would this fly on me--no way, no how. But I still wanted a unique dress, something unlike anything I'd seen in the magazines and stores. Almost all of them were sleeveless, with massive trains, and covered in lace and pearls--ugh! And the idea of paying thousands of dollars for a dress I'd wear ONCE kind of made me want to throw something.
So I did the next best thing. I looked at a lot of pictures, made a couple sketches, and sat down to make my own. I did a sample dress first, out of cheaper fabric and simpler pattern, to see how difficult it would be. The final result was pretty (I wore it to my brother's wedding in September), but I definitely don't have the skill to do fancywork. I managed to put two sleeves on one side and had to rip one of them out--satin is much more unforgiving of those sorts of mistakes than cotton, I am led to believe.
Time for Plan C. My mom's friend Mary knew of a woman who makes wedding dresses! Mary sung her praises as a seamstress (the lady had done some spectacular work on Mary's mother-of-the-bride dress last summer), and suggested her as a person to go to for alterations at first. But after talking things over with her, I decided to have her make my dress. In fact, I wanted her to make dresses for my whole wedding party--me, my four maids, and darling little Althea the flower girl. For less than the cost of a traditional bridal gown. (Though I couldn't tell you how much exactly--she negotiated that with my mom, who kindly offered to contribute that portion of the budget.)
So far, I've only seen pictures and reports from a bridesmaid about my dress. Tomorrow, Fiance and I are flying back to the Midwest (where my parents are, and where this wonderful lady is), and I will have my first fitting. How exciting!
*That's a flat lie, actually. My first impulse was to convince Fiance to elope, so we could get married in jeans and baseball caps. No dice. He managed to win me over to his point of view instead, and that's when the romantic visions began to appear.