Friday, May 4, 2018

my elopement + handmade wedding dress

So, here's the kind of person I am: the kind that puts off planning my elopement for most of a year, finally picks a date two months in advance, orders (and then ignores) a bunch of silk swatches from Mood, and then completely decides to not think about the dress I'm going to make until three weeks before the wedding day. Once the three week mark hit, I began panicking about how I had absolutely no idea what I wanted the dress to look like at allllll, forced myself to iterate through several designs and fittings that just didn't do it for me, and eventually settled on a bodice front, bodice back, and skirt (all designed during different stages of the process). Then I ordered final fabric from across the country 11 days before the big day, overcame a few more unexpected and major design and fit hurdles, and then sewed the entire final dress up in 2 days (with 2 more partial days of hand hemming, the worst task) - done, with a dress I loved, with 4 days to spare! Phew. It was completely stressful, but honestly that kind of pressure makes me feel the happiest and most alive, and I can't imagine having attempted this big, meaningful project any other way.

A little more about our wedding day: Tim and I finally decided to get married after almost 8 years together. Practical maybe to a fault, we put it off indefinitely while we were both in tech, and once I quit my job we decided it finally made sense for both tax and health insurance reasons (and, you know, the fact that we're in love and had been together for the better part of a decade and had no intention of ever breaking up). Hopeless romantics obviously. But we did decide to make this a day we would look back on lovingly - no extended family drama, no 200-person guest list or caterer or florist or venue to stress over. And our parents were amazingly supportive despite not having an invite. We decided to run off to the woods outside of Portland, bringing along 2 of our oldest and closest friends, our corgi Tumbles, and a photographer slash witness to the ceremony (who I met in person on my Wildbride retreat a couple of years ago, and who had the perfect aesthetic for our chilly PNW woods elopement). I honestly expected at least something to go horribly wrong - freezing rain driving us all back home after 20 minutes seemed the most likely culprit. But honestly the day was pretty much everything I could have hoped for? The dress worked out, the rain held off, the photos are amazing, and our friend Phil's internet ordainment totally took and we ended up legally married :)

Here are some of my fav photos from the day, all taken by Liz Morrow (who I believe is out of the photography biz now, and I'm forever grateful she come down to take these before shifting career paths!).

For the sewists (or just the curious) out there, here's a bit more info about the dress:

My wedding dress was totally designed, drafted, fit, and sewn up by me. It's made with 3 kinds of silk: a charmeuse bodice with organza sheer panels on the front and back, chiffon skirt with organza hem facings, and even more organza used as underlining and sew-in interfacing for the zipper. All silk was ordered from Mood in the deep charcoal colorway. I also used flannel to underline the bodice to give it more structure, since I wouldn't be wearing a bra with the dress. I started off with my custom bodice sloper and iterated... and iterated.. and iterated. Lots of muslin and then cheap poly versions of my silks, and finally the real deal. There were a few terrifying parts during construction: trying to sew the angles of the sheer bodice panels without any creasing, turning the charmeuse straps out through the points of the back bodice, inserting an invisible zipper into two layers of delicate silk chiffon. But even though the process was full of indecision and iteration, it was surprisingly devoid of full on disasters, much like the wedding day itself! I really truly loved making this dress and am honestly thinking about having a one year anniversary party just so I can wear it one more time :) I actually considered going into the bespoke wedding dress field for like 2 seconds, but a huge part of the joy in this was knowing I had no one to please but myself. I just can't imagine dealing with brides and wedding stress that isn't my own. But for me, this project was the perfect way to celebrate my wedding day.