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Saturday, October 30, 2010

In the Moment: Imagining the Dress

Over the next couple of weeks I'll recap our day. I'll reveal if what we were looking forward to lived up to expectations and I'll tie together our initial ideas with our DIY projects with final reveals. I'll finish our recaps with a list of what went surprisingly right.
I'm going to start off my recaps with the most obvious thing that went surprisingly right. It's the best place for me to start because it ties with the theme of the recaps - In the Moment.

I chose "In the Moment" to describe our day. A day that in the novel that will be our lives together is but a single chapter. As those who know me well are all too aware I read very fast. I gobble up words at a dizzying pace to get to the good parts and to find out how it ends. I knew our wedding day was going to be one of the good parts in our story. And I knew I wanted to be present for it. So I tried very hard to "be in the moment." And most surprisingly, I was "in the moment."
The most obvious thing that went surprisingly right? That's my dress. It went surprisingly right in so many ways even with a whole bunch of obstacles tossed in. Seeing me in my dress was one of the things cubes was looking forward to the week of our wedding.

I started with this idea of what I wanted. My mom's dress. A scooped neckline. The ability to see my boots. A gorgeous silk bustle.
A quick aside and some context. I was incredibly lucky that my mom was/is old school. By that I mean she preserved her gown so that if she had a daughter who wanted to wear it at her wedding the dress would be preserved. Also throughout my childhood, she never pressured me to wear the dress (actually I can't even remember her mentioning the dress). So when we announced to my parents that we were getting married, with the exception of two stains, the dress and detachable train were in excellent vintage condition.

My mom and I met with Scatha (Miss Velvet Cream) to show her the dress, to explain what I wanted, and to make sure my mom was fully on board. There's a photo of me in the original dress. Had my mom not been behind reconstructing the dress I would have worn the dress with alterations. In that moment when I tried on the dress with my mom standing there I felt like a bride. Everything felt right. The photo that Scatha captured of me in my mom's dress has my mom reflected in the studio mirror-a huge smile on her face. I can't believe that moment happened only 14 months ago.

We left Scatha's studio with a sketch of what my dress would look like. Over the next couple of months, Scatha magicked the dress into existence, with me driving to Sacramento once for an initial fitting. When it was time for the final fitting in March I returned with my mom. We returned to the Bay Area with my dress neatly packaged in a vintage gold dress box and a caution to be very careful with the dress as the vintage lace was very delicate. This was March.

To ensure that my corset didn't show above the neckline of the dress, I needed to wear the dress at a pattern fitting. First fitting no problem. It was agreed that we needed to strengthen the lace. This was June.

Now here's where the obstacles came in. Second pattern fitting slight problem. There was now a tear - a small tear - in the neckline. It was July. I tried to be zen about it - the dress wasn't one of my top three must haves - so it shouldn't matter. I don't know how well I held it together for everyone around me. But truthfully I was a mess. On the way from the corset maker in Hayward to our friends' house in Millbrae I'd had to pull over on the side of the road because I was crying so hard.

I think it's safe to say - and I doublechecked with cubes and he agreed - that the most stressful piece of our wedding was my dress. From August to the week before the wedding we didn't know whether or not I'd be able to wear my dress. Lacis referred me to Studio Trousseau. Karen was absolutely amazing. The brides Lacis sends her are her brides. She takes us from tears of despair to tears of joy. She told me it was doable - the lace could be repaired and the bodice reconstructed in time for the wedding.

Once I left the dress with her, she did all the worrying and all the hard work. She laid out the lace from the original dress's sleeves and figured out what looked best. And then she sent me a photo of the pinned neckline for approval. I couldn't believe my eyes. If you didn't know we had to redo the dress's reconstructed neckline you wouldn't know that the neckline Karen created wasn't original to the dress. Her one worry? That the dress, which wouldn't fit on her smallest dress form and actually broke it, wouldn't fit me. When I went in for my fitting I showed her that while it was tricky (ok a big pain in the a** to get into) I fit the dress *without* a corset.

For those not familiar with corsets - specifically corsets that are meant to be worn under clothes - they're made up of a bunch of metal stays. If you're petite, a corset will actually increase your measurements. So a dress that fits perfectly *without* a corset won't necessarily fit *with* a corset. Herein lies the chicken and the egg problem. How do you design a dress without a corset? How do you design a custom corset without the dress?

The biggest challenge we faced was that we didn't have a final corset to try on under the dress as the bodice was being repaired and reconstructed and we didn't have a final dress to try on with the corset pattern. The other problem was that I by myself couldn't get into or out of my dress and cubes didn't want to see the dress. With everyone's crazy schedules there was no way to figure out whether my dress fit with my corset. So the day of the wedding I didn't know whether my dress would fit with the corset.
As you can see everything went surprisingly right and I was actually able to wear my dress. Not comfortably and definitely not without stressing out almost everyone around me. But from the moment we gathered to sign the Ketubah through to when I sat down to eat dinner, I didn't notice the discomfort. Now when I tried to eat... well that's a whole other story. One that you'll have to wait for.

Credits: All photographs unless noted otherwise were taken by Jessica Palopoli. Bride's makeup by Guille of The Lobby Salon. Bride's hair styled by Catherine Walters. Bride's hair color and cut by John Skinner and Louise Frost of CODE Salon, respectively. Groom's hair by Cindy Lopez of Azure Salon. Groom's suit: Vintage Gucci from Sui Generis, reconstructed by Miss Velvet Cream.

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