Oh my, this was an undertaking. There is a reason why it isn’t odd for these things to cost thousands of dollars and it has very little to do with the cost of the materials. I had just under 2 months to design and make my gown. I could have used at least 10 extra sets of hands. The experience…gosh, what to say? It was frustrating at times. Close your eyes for a moment and imagine trying to cut HUGE swaths of ivory fabric, on the floor, during mud season, with four kids constantly running in and out. I think that’s the highest my blood pressure has ever been in my life. I learned very quickly that my monitor is not to be trusted when is comes to fabric shades. The caramel colored silk taffeta that I ordered for the bodice turned out to actually be salmon. I ended up layering several layers and types of sheer fabric over it to mute the color to the nude/palest blush pink you see here. I didn’t like the contrast between the new color and the ivory skirt so I ordered some “Pale Apricot” tulle….when I took the bright bubble gum pink bolt out of the package, I laughed so hard that Steve knocked on the door to make sure I was ok. Yet more layering was the solution. I used well over 100 yards of tulle.
Sometimes it was amazing. Elijah took an odd interest in the process, at times taking on the role of my assistant. I’d come down from putting the littles to bed and he’d be laying out fabric swatches for consideration on the futon with a baseball game on in the background. For his eleventh birthday he learned to lace up a corset back dress.
The whole thing was done in secret. Steve wanted it to be a surprise. I tacked up a sheet over the playroom doorway and only worked on it when he wasn’t around. The picture above, of him looking so handsome in his waistcoat, was his first time he saw my dress as I walked down the aisle towards him.
I lined the bodice with old work shirt of Steve’s and used buttons from my grandmother’s button jar for the bustle, because I’m ridiculously sentimental like that.
The last photo, on the stairs, shows the full train. It’s bustled in the other photographs, which dramatically altered the shape of the gown, giving it kind of a trumpet flair around the bottom.
Suzannah from Adventures in Dressmaking’s blog was invaluable to me, especially the posts on how she made her beautiful gown. Reading her story made me feel just a little bit less crazy for even attempting this.
All the photos above are by the lovely and talented Dawn Joseph.