Thursday, December 16, 2010

Caley Cheney's Design Challenge--How to Design a Bridal Gown "Across the Pond"

This post is by Caley Cheney, Glasgow, Scotland formerly of Dandridge, TN in her own words:

I hate most wedding dresses. I’ve never been the girl that had her wedding planned at the age of 10. I didn’t have the colors picked, the song to dance to, or even know what kind of ceremony I wanted. So when Steven proposed to me, I found out the hard way just how behind I was on the whole wedding planning process. I mean, most girls at least know what to expect. Then again, most girls are also living in the same country as their fiancé. I was in Glasgow, Scotland when I started trying on dresses. My husband is Scottish, and I was visiting him to spend time together during the wedding planning. This would have been far less tedious if the wedding was actually going to be in Scotland, but we had decided to get married in Tennessee near my family. Naively undaunted by the task of planning a wedding while overseas, I booked the venue and then started looking for dresses.

I walked into the first shop in July and was asked when the wedding would be taking place. I smiled and told her it would be on October 23. Without missing a beat or looking up from her notepad, she nodded and said, “Ah, 2011.” When I corrected her and explained that I meant 2010, as in a few months from that day, she looked at me incredulously and froze like an overburdened computer. Once successfully rebooted, she informed me that “less than six months” is a short order for a dress. Later I was told stories of brides trying on dresses at the hint of a proposal, and even the ones who could wait for the ring had found their dress within a week. I must admit that I was shocked to suddenly find myself much further behind than I had anticipated, but I was determined and decided to pick up the pace.

I lost count of how many dresses I tried on and how many shops I went to. After scouring the area I only seriously liked one of dresses, and even then I didn’t love it. I was plagued with wanting the top from one dress, the bottom of another, and then a middle section that didn’t exist anywhere in Glasgow. I took a deep breath and went home to consult my dear friend the Internet, where I found Tricia.

Tricia is like a little wedding dress fairy godmother, only with measuring tape instead of a wand. It is crucial to find wedding vendors that you can have a good working relationship with, and Tricia and I spoke the same language right from the start. I sent her pictures with explanations trying to describe what I was looking for and she would send sketches back to me. In a matter of a few weeks we had managed to co-design a dress while in completely different time zones and countries. Slowly, my fear and desperation melted away as I found that the certain features I had sought were truly able to exist in one dress. My only limitation was my budget, but as I gave that to Tricia from the start, we were able to work within it using creative and practical choices.

We didn’t meet in person until the first fitting on October 2, 2010. Although we had a hiccup when we realized I had been misinformed in Glasgow about the fabric, Tricia insisted we could redo it in what I had originally been looking for. She was very patient and understanding, two things worth their weight in gold for brides-to-be, and by the time I came for the last fitting on October 17 I couldn’t believe what a beautiful job Tricia had done with the dress. Finally, the week of my wedding, I could get all girly and excited and say, “This is the one!” I didn’t feel like an actor in a costume pretending to be someone else, as I felt in so many of the “shop” dresses I had tried on. I am no princess, and I don’t want to dress up as one. My custom dress made me feel glowing and gorgeous but still comfortable and happy to be me because I had a hand in making it come to life. Don’t get me wrong, I still say I don’t like wedding dresses… but I love mine.

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