My Handmade Wedding Dress

Posted on Nov 13, 2013

The dress. Let me start this off by telling a little history. I was more of a tomboy growing up so I never had this big magical wedding planned out like some little girls did. My parents owned and operated a wedding and video business while I was growing up. I have watched my dad editing many a wedding video and I have seen my fair share of weddings.  Watching those weddings over and over made me a little disenchanted with the whole ‘fairy tale’ wedding. So when it came to a dress I didn’t want some poofy thing, no offense, it just wasn’t me. I wanted to feel relaxed and comfortable in my own skin. I didn’t want to try to ‘fit’ into a certain size by my wedding, that just seemed silly to me. I wanted to just be me, not the stressed-out-self-conscience-skinnier-version-of-the-me-I-thought-I-should-be-for-my-wedding-day. 
Most girls go right out and pick out the dress first thing. I drug my feet. I was in no rush. I never stepped foot in a bridal store through the whole planning process because the thought of paying those prices to a company that probably bought the dress dirt cheap from an underpaid third world seamstress just did not sound appealing to me in the least. I had briefly chatted with a friend make it for me but she had several wedding dresses she was already working on. I looked at a few thrift stores to see if there was one that would be cool altered. I searched etsyTradsey and a couple other random places to find a handmade, second hand and/or vintage dress. Nothing really struck me. Until an out of town visitor suggested I just make it. This was quickly dismissed since I cannot follow a pattern to save my life and have no experience in dress making other than simple skirts. But then I got to thinking about the possibility of having another talented seamstress friend teaching me. I sketched up a simple dress that was more of what I was looking for and I asked my friend Kristin, about 2 and half months before the wedding, what she thought about this. 
She was all over it! She was excited to teach me and work together on it. I could not have asked a better teacher, she was patient and broke things down for me. I originally found the large chunky rose lace for $19 a yard at a local shop and fell in love but did not fall in love with the price. It was important to me to keep things as simple and low cost as possible. I searched etsy found the same lace for half the price. The under layer was a little difficult because I needed to touch and feel how it would look with the lace so we picked up a cream knit material at JoAnn’s with coupons. I already had the Zipper and thread, although we used Kristin’s thread more.
I thrifted this braided belt at Goodwill in the little boys section for $.99 and loved how it fit with the dress. I think my mom wanted some kind of sash, I just wanted to feel relaxed. At one point I told my mom I didn’t want it to be too tight and  I was also planning on putting pockets on my wedding dress and she said something to the effect of “Amber Dawn! Good grief, it’s your wedding for Pete’s sake I think you can afford to be a little girly for one day in your life!” haha So I nixed the pockets, mainly because we were running out of time, and that was just one more thing to do.

Shoes from Target clearance. I wanted a different pair but Dylan found me these so we couldn’t decide and bought both and waited till I finished my dress to see which ones looked best.  Dylan’s pair won. He liked them because the mint color tied in with our color scheme. 

I’m not a huge jewelry person so when it came to jewelry I didn’t wnat a bunch of glitzy glammy stuff. I bought one bracelet (pictured) from a little local boutique/salon.  Dylan bought us matching ‘amber’ necklaces in mexico a few years ago and our leather from them has since deteriorated off our necks so I found a few chains we had laying around and bought some jewelry wire and fixed them for us to wear at the wedding.
The hankie was a gift from a dear friend who just thought of me when she saw it at a bed and breakfast/antique store. Super sweet!
My friend Kristin is awesome! Words cannot express how awesome she was through the whole dress making time. She not only set aside time for me, she patiently taught me and put up with a lot of annoying questions from me. She is absolutely amazing! It took us about 6 sessions to get it done. We used my rough sketch and the bottom portion from a prom dress pattern to make it. Kristin taught me how to do darts and armpits (those things are difficult), some cool tips with sewing zippers and so on. taking turns sewing and having some girl time before the wedding was awesome!
Kristin went to school for costume and set design and she is taking more seamstress tailoring jobs right now so email me if you would like to get in touch with her. 

Emma had a little something too. I originally wanted her to wear a flower wreath of some type. I made one with fake flowers to try out with her a few months before the wedding… she hated it and kept trying to rub it off. So I decided to go with the tried and true bandanna route. This dog absolutely loves to wear bandannas, if she sees that you are holding it to put it on her she immediately sits so still and upright for you to slide it on.  I used scraps from my wedding dress lace and just stitched up the edges. We also bought a simple leather leash on etsy from a shop called Leather Rush. The price was decent and free shipping in the US so I was pretty happy. We tried to buy handmade, second hand or vintage as much as possible.

Total cost for my dress was right around $90. I could not have been more pleased to wear something that was special to me and that I felt comfortable that I could move around in. The peace of mind knowing that I felt like I had spent my parents money for a dress in a responsible and somewhat sustainable way made me feel good about it.

All photos (except for the ones of Kristin) are by the talented Sugar and Spice ladies! 

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