This past August I married my best friend. During the process of planning the wedding, I didn’t want to post too much about it and give away all the fun details. Like any good newlywed, though, I’m excited to share how it all came together, photos of the process, and what I learned during the planning!
I had finally found my dress! Choosing the whimsical dress, however, also meant a long road of alterations ahead. Hauling it back from North Carolina to Chicago was an experience in of itself. I’ve never had a carry-on item quite like a wedding dress. People see it and their reactions are hilarious: eyes pop, mouths gape, questions come tumbling out. “Is that your wedding dress? Are you getting MARRIED!!? CONGRATULATIONS! *wild clapping* Once I arrived back to the city, the next stage was finding a seamstress. And not just any seamstress, but one who was willing to go the extra mile to help me take apart the dress, save the skirt, and create a gorgeous bodice.
Finding The Seamstress
I asked around to see if any of my friends could recommend a good seamstress. Tess had only good things to say about the woman who had made her dress, but unfortunately her lady was located in the suburbs, about an hour away from me. Since I don’t own a car and I knew borrowing one for every appointment might not be possible, I decided to not even meet with her. Instead, I turned to the computer and began googling my options. Results came popping up, but most of the seamstresses seemed to only specialize in minor alterations. I arranged to meet with several in the same area and borrowed a car to haul the dress around. The first woman I met with was an older European lady. Although she seemed experienced, I couldn’t seem to make her understand that no, I didn’t just want the skirt shortened: I wanted the entire top remade. “No, no, no, no,” she insisted, “eet vil look veddy nice when I just trim dis and drim dat.”
The moment I stepped into the last seamstress’s store, I knew I had found my person. Mignonette is an adorable little store located near Belmont and Ashland and filled to the brim with custom made wedding dresses, stylish accessories, eclectic jewelry designed by artists from around the country, and vintage lace. Kpoene, the owner, was friendly and urged me to explain my vision while she sketched out her interpretation. Her price was exactly what I was hoping it would be and – as an added bonus! Her sister-in-law was Lithuanian. 😉 It was a match made in heaven.
Ever the photographer, I was totally snapping away photos even while modeling my own dress.
The first several appointments were spent mostly on the bodice, tightening it up more (and more! and more!), figuring out how to make it stay up (we tried a corset insert, but then finally had to just switch to boning). I wanted an illusion neckline with transparent sleeves that had flowers from the skirt spilling over one shoulder. We pinned flowers in a million different combinations, trying to make the dress match the elusive vision in my head. We also added some transparent tulle layers to the skirt, just to give it some depth, as the original skirt had an oddly weird flatness to the way it draped.
In May, my mom visited me in Chicago and was able to come along with me to one of the fittings. I had mentioned to her that I really wanted to wear a long pearl necklace – something different and vintage-y. I feel like most brides wear jewelry that’s short and sweet, but I wanted something with a little bit of swing and sass. My mom found the most gorgeous water pearl necklace at a department store and I slipped it on…only to discover that it didn’t quite work with the dress. Hanging so low down my chest made it seem like it was competing with the flowers. On a whim, my mom suggested I try letting it hang down the back instead and PERFECTION. I loved it!
We decided that the necklace would be attached at the edges of the neckline, but would still be able to swing freely down my back. It looked absolutely beautiful. In hindsight, though, the only problem this created was that the necklace did tug on the neckline constantly throughout the wedding day, making the top of the gown constantly slip down my shoulders. We had considered using a heavier netting for the illusion neckline, but I had nixed it on account of how scratchy and itchy the material was.
When it came to deciding what to wear on my head, I had originally battled between two choices: a long veil or a flowered wreath, which is more traditional with Lithuanians. My sister wore the most gorgeous cathedral length veil during her wedding, which we had found on sale – and by “on sale,” I mean marked down to a ridiculous amazing price – at the time. My mom had spent several hours sewing little sparkly beads along the edging to give it a little extra gorgeousness and a part of me had hoped I could also wear it for my wedding day. Imagine my delight when I realized it looked absolutely gorgeous with my wedding dress. I decided to wear it for the ceremony and then change into a wreath for the reception. Since my hair is naturally thick and fairly curly, I envisioned a hairstyle with lots of loose curls pulled over to one side of my head and cascading down my neck.
The hardest part in the whole process was not knowing what the dress would look like until almost a month or two before the big day. I purchased a pair of cream espadrilles to wear with the dress, hoping they’d be comfortable enough to wear for the ceremony, the cocktail hour on the lawn, and for the entire reception. I had a pair of white sandals that could be my backup shoes. The espadrilles were, in fact, very comfortable and would have been fine, expect by the time the ceremony and the portraits were over – I had done a lot of walking and my feet were just tired. I knew I needed to change, but in the chaos my sandals disappeared and – not wanting to waste time searching for them – I ended up wearing an incredibly old pair of flip flops during most of the reception. Whomp whomp. Best of intentions, right? No matter how hard you try, you just can’t control everything.
My favorite accessories, however, were the dangle-y pearl earrings that I purchased from Mignonette. They were made of a dark, vintage silver and every time I’ve worn them since I can’t help but smile.
So now you’re dying to see photos of the finished product, amma’right?!?
All the professional wedding day photographs were taken by Sarah Rominger