Written by Julie White
Feature image and three outdoor dress images credited to Kendra Elise Photography
This week’s featured guest, Candice, is a DIY bride who married her husband Anthony on September 13, 2013. One of the most unique parts of their wedding story is her wedding dress, which she made herself! And that’s just a stitch (though the most important, of course) of all of the do-it-yourself projects this wedding had.
A Truly DIY Wedding
Candice and her groom Anthony had an amazing team of people to help them make their day extra special and personal: Candice’s friend Tiffany made a banner for the gift table, one of the bridesmaids, Holli, made rosette decorations and provided beautiful birdcages, and the groom’s sister and the bridesmaids arranged all of the flowers for the centerpieces and the aisle. The groom’s friend brewed his own (incredible) beer for the wedding and used the groom’s home-roasted coffee to serve to the wedding guests. Another one of the groom’s friends took care of all of the sound for the ceremony and the reception–while on crutches. The bride’s father set up all of the lighting inside and outside, and her mother helped with the important task of sewing her wedding dress.
The bride and groom stamped all of the wedding favor bags and filled them with local candy, and the groom designed their Save-the-Dates, invitations, boutonnieres, and hand-painted frames and vases for the centerpieces. He also found time to put together and decorate the arch.
Not only did Candice sew her wedding dress, but she also made the bouquets out of dried flowers, the ring-bearer box, her hairpiece, the bridesmaid hairpieces, the flower girl halo, the corsages, the bridesmaid sashes, AND the pocket squares for the groomsmen. Candice said “When I look back now, I see why I was so stressed out before the wedding.”
When she was growing up, Candice was too impatient to learn how to sew while her mom was sewing. In her early twenties, though, she became intrigued with the design process and taught herself (with some help from mom) how to sew by taking items of clothing apart and tracing them to create designs. She said “I taught myself how to sew, but the funny thing is, I had never actually sewed a dress, much less a detachable one. I never told anyone that though.”
Candice said she knew if she bought a wedding dress, it really wouldn’t be “one of a kind,” which has always been really important to her, and that the cost of a gown for such a thrifty gal as herself was something she couldn’t stomach. She only visited one bridal shop to appease her mother, but none of the dresses were for her. Candice said “I was really inspired by the form fitting, yet lightweight dresses of the 1930s, particularly those of French designer Madeleine Vionnet.” She also knew that she wanted a lace dress, so she used pieces from her mother’s wedding dress (including the lace on the sleeves) to add more intrinsic value to her own.
Candice’s parents – look at that dress!
About six months before her wedding, Candice decided to give up on finding the perfect dress and make her own. Everyone around her thought she was insane, and she felt as if no one believed that she could do it at first. However, her sewing buddy/bridesmaid Rachel told her that she could do it, and her confidence in herself was restored. She started making a prototype of her dress (including a detachable skirt!) with muslin in July, and when she had all of the measurements correct, she started on the foundation of her dress. She said “I made the ridiculous mistake of buying silk for the foundation of the dress, so any little drop of water stained it. Which also meant I couldn’t steam it. That made the process a lot more time consuming.” She also told us that sewing is actually the easy part; it’s the cutting, arranging, and ironing of the fabric that is much more tedious.
Candice’s dress in progress
So how did Candice feel during the process of making her wedding dress? She said “Stressed but inspired! I was working out 6 days a week which took up so much time, I ended up using that time for the dress instead. When I looked at the big picture I started to freak out over how many little details I had left. I probably still have 100 mini lists I made during the process. When I would go to bed I would make a list of everything I needed to finish that week and decide what needed to be done each day. Some days I would make myself finish enough for two or three days so I could go to sleep and say, ‘Ahhhh!’”
Candice’s hand-sewn dress
The sleeves are made out of lace from her mom’s dress
More lace from Candice’s mom’s dress
There goes the detachable skirt!
Candice knows that many brides are on a budget and it is hard to find ANYTHING reasonable in price, but making things yourself is a really great way to save money. Finding people (like Candice’s coordinator, who gave her an amazing deal) that will work with you to help create a beautiful wedding is key. Candice and Anthony are perfect examples of how a network of friends and family can help to create a beautiful, one-of-a-kind wedding on a budget.