Custom Made: A vintage-inspired wedding dress by River Elliot Bridal
I am so happy to share this custom-made dress I designed for my client, Lianne. In this blog post you’ll see some beautiful photos from Lianne’s recent vintage wedding in Northampton and discover what’s involved in choosing to have a wedding dress or bridal outfit made for you.
At the beginning – the first consultation
When I first met Lianne in my bridal studio in Cambridge, I knew instantly we’d share a great journey creating her bespoke vintage wedding dress. We discovered almost straight away that we had the same interests, from the beautiful glamour of the 1920s and 1930s to wildlife and animal conservation. We chatted for ages before even discussing the wedding dress design.
Lianne explained to me that she didn’t really know exactly what she wanted, but she knew key elements that were important to her. For starters, she knew she wanted sleeves and a fitted wedding dress but wanted to avoid a commercial look. She also wanted to show her décolletage in a modest way without an overly plunging neckline.
As we chatted, I began to understand Lianne’s personal style and some initial ideas started to evolve. We talked through the idea of a vintage-inspired wedding dress, particularly that of the late 1920s and 1930s, in which dresses skimmed across a woman’s body, flowing into a a flared draped length. We envisioned wonderfully ornate blouson sleeves and long, fitted cuffs to balance the proportions. Ironically, one of the first wedding sketches I did for Lianne, is pretty much the finished result.
The fabric and materials
During our first consultation in my bridal studio in Cambridge, Lianne chose her vintage wedding dress fabric. I showed her one of my favourite bridal fabrics to use, a double crepe sandwashed silk in a soft shade of ivory. Slightly untraditional, it’s a more matte material with an almost buttery texture, yet thicker than other silks and satins. It has little ‘sheen’ and so affords what I feel is a more high-end finish. For instance, the Duchess of Sussex wore a double-bonded Cady silk for her Givenchy-designed wedding dress and it was easy to see the sheer quality of this material.
The first wedding dress fitting
After our first consultation, I took Lianne’s full body measurements. These figures allow me to design a a pattern for Lianne that is completely tailored to her body. I then use this pattern to cut out the first toile, which is a mock version of the final wedding dress. Lianne then returned for her first fitting to my bridal studio in Cambridge. I always warn my clients that the first fitting is mainly a guide for myself to see how well the pattern is fitting their body. The toile is made in very plain calico cotton, so a healthy dose of imagination is needed to see beyond this basic toile. With the patience of the client, I carefully begin to pin and snip away at the wedding toile to create a truly, custom-fit. The toile then truly becomes that of the client’s, unique to their body and style and nobody else’s. It’s such a magical experience.
How the wedding dress evolves
Gradually, over the course of the second and third fitting, the wedding dress or outfit starts to take shape. The client eventually sees their wedding dress or outfit evolve into their unique, individual design. Along the way, the client also has the opportunity to request small changes. Perhaps the neckline could be a little lower, or the skirt a little longer. These teeny changes help the client to obtain a wedding dress or outfit that ticks all the boxes, while making them feel completely confident and comfortable. In the picture below, Lianne is wearing one of the final toiles, which is why the dress has two different colours! To be economical with my fabric waste, I try to re-use fabric from previous silks so that the client can best visualise and feel how their final dress or outfit will look. What’s more, the skirt part of this toile can be tried on by future clients looking for a similar style, thus avoiding being thrown away!
A unique vintage wedding dress
To make Lianne’s bespoke vintage wedding dress even more unique, we chose to add beautiful ivory embellished appliqués on the shoulder, over the bust and down the side/hip to accentuate Lianne’s figure. These appliqués featured clear sequins and beads that gave the wedding dress some glamour and a healthy dose of ‘sparkle’. We spent a good amount of time together positioning the appliqués and then they were hand-sewn in place on the final dress.
The final wedding dress fitting
This was such a lovely morning! Lianne arrived with her Mum and two bridesmaids ready to show them the most final version of the dress so far. Prosecco was shared and lots of laughter, and it was great to meet these special women in Lianne’s life. It was also such a proud moment to see how much they loved the wedding dress and how beautiful Lianne looked. After this fitting, I then made all the last changes to the dress and prepared it for collection.
The wedding day – and the new River Elliot Bridal Dressing Service!
I was so excited to be a small part of Lianne’s actual wedding day. I have launched a new service within River Elliot Bridal – the Dressing Service. This means, I’ll arrive on the day of your wedding to steam your wedding dress or outfit as well as help dress you. This is helpful in so many ways; it takes away pressure from your friends or family who would have otherwise had to have helped you. It means they can focus on getting themselves ready, keeping you relaxed or do any other wedding-related jobs. My presence also means you can completely relax knowing that any minor issues (such as a fallen button etc) can be fixed there and then. I’ll also bring my professional steamer to ensure your wedding dress or outfit looks utterly perfect.
I hope you have enjoyed reading about this latest bespoke wedding dress. If you would like to book a consultation to discuss a custom-made wedding dress or outfit, please contact me using the form on my contact page.
Lianne’s Wedding Photography by: Worsfold Photography