Thursday, May 31, 2012

Weddings To Remember

I was up quite early this morning, just couldn't sleep. Too much in my mind. Another story for another day. So rather than just stay in the bed, I (and the dogs!) went down for a cup of hot tea and a bit of dog food. From there I made my way down to my studio to do a little cleaning(I need to do a LOT of cleaning) and I came across photos of some of the work I did when I was doing wedding gowns.What a treat, a little walk down Memory Lane. Such a nice lane to take a stroll down on an early morning. Amongst all the pictures were lovely cards that had been sent to me thanking me for the work I did and expressing just how lovely they felt on their special day. Funny, I remembered the dresses but not the cards. Each bride was so much more than a client to me, I felt that they belonged to me for that very special period of time while we worked on their gown. As it turned out, most of my brides insisted that I attend their wedding. For the most part, I loved every minute although there were a few bridesmaids that I would have loved to crown and not in a good way. 
I thought I would share a bit of my early morning walk with you today. 
This is a bustier in progress. The bride had the train from her mother's gown. The rest of the dress had been ruined by a friend who had borrowed it.  The bustier was cut from the train and all of the lace that was on the train was removed and then appliqued back on the bustier. All of the beads that you see were pieces that the bride had saved from her grandmothers. There were crystal buttons, pearl necklaces, crystal necklaces, just a bag full of things. She wanted the piece to be encrusted with all that was in the bag.
 She had wanted the boning to show. I usually would do what the bride wanted unless I felt that it just wouldn't work or that it just wouldn't look good. In this instance, I knew that the lace would pretty much cover up the boning.
 A view of the back.
 Me helping her dress on her wedding day.
This was a  very special bride. The dress that she is wearing was her mother's gown. The problem with the dress was that it was about four sizes smaller than the bride. She wanted so badly to wear the gown. So what I did was take off the original sleeves. They were the very tight early 1950's sleeves. The sleeves were lace. I was able to buy satin that matched the dress fairly well. I lifted the lace on the front of the dress, made new side panels and then took lace from the sleeves and appliqued it over the new side panels which camouflaged the new satin. For the sleeves, I bought English net, combined it with silk organza and then took the rest of the lace and did appliques on the sleeves. The bottom of the skirt had some issues. It had been stained along the hem. I bought new lace that I dyed with tea to match the original lace. I became an expert at knowing the different shades that different teas would give me. The lace was sewn on and beaded. When her mother saw the dress, she cried. She was so happy. Nice.   
I've included this picture because of the funny story that goes along with it. You see the young girl on the left. She was twelve at the time. The bride did not think that it was appropriate for her to wear a strapless dress, but the child had her heart set on looking like the rest of the girls. So I told her that we could add straps. She still wasn't very happy so I told her that we would add the straps now and then later, I meant when she was older, she could take the straps out of the dress. The bride told me that later that night at the reception she looked at the child and thought something did not look the same. She had taken the straps out of her dress!! The bride asked her where the straps were and the child replied, "Rhonda said that I could take the straps out later." At that point it didn't matter. I learned to be a little more careful with what I said.

 This was such a sweet story. The bride did not have a wedding the first time around, so for their twenty-fifth anniversary, they had a wedding. The fabric for her dress came from Ghana. There was enough for her gown, her daughter's dress and the vest, bow tie and hat for her husband. She said that having a wedding where her son and daughter were able to participate made it all the sweeter.
This was such a wonderful dress to create. The bodice is made from a silk that was embroidered with a silk cord and a very fine gold wire. Thankfully the bodice was small because there was a lot of re-applique that had to be done along the seams. The skirt is a matching silk with two layers of silk chiffon overlays.
 I loved the choice of fabric for her wedding party. With such varying ages, it worked so well.
On her way to the church. We did a velvet cape that was edged in a gold cord with a matching bag. She looked like a fairy princess. The church is on Michigan Ave. across from Water Tower Place. She told me that people were running across the street to tell her how lovely she looked.
So a few of my brides. Believe it or not, I do hear from them every once in a while. A few of my brides have become good friends. I'm having dinner with one of my brides and her husband later this week. They will celebrate their 19th anniversary this year. Incredible.
Hopefully I haven't bored you with my little trip down Memory Lane.
Have a wonderful day.

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  1. What a fun walk down memory lane, Rhonda! I did not know that you used to make wedding gowns. I made two (mine and my sister-in-laws) and that was enough for me! :)

    1. Yes, for ten years!!! It's a wonder I didn't lose my mind, but then again....maybe I did! Like I said, for the most part, it was a great experience. No two dresses were ever the same.

  2. Rhonda, the gowns are magnificent, and the stories touch the heart. Thank you.

    1. Hey Miss P! Thank you. The stories are lovely just as the brides whose stories they are. It was nice to remember.

  3. Rhonda, I myself, not a professional, but have made four lovely wedding gowns. I so loved your gowns, and the stories that went with them. Great post!

  4. Now stop! I can't take much more of this endless talent you have. I really admire people who make for weddings - not so much the intricate detail and fittings but dealing with the 'clients'. What lovely memories and your work made them special for the brides and grooms too.

    1. Ruth you are far too kind. As I said in the post, the brides were always lovely, it was the bridesmaids that would drive me crazy. Believe it or not, I once told a bridesmaid that her title was bridesmaid and the emphasis was on maid not bride. She got the message.