Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Q and A: Finding a Vintage Wedding Gown

Carrie in her vintage dress on her wedding day--with a friend.
If I've learned one thing about blogging, it's that once your friends find out about your passion, they tell everyone else about it--and then you make a bunch of new friends like that. That was just the case when I was casually talking to Emily about vintage wedding gowns. She connected me to Carrie Dvorak, who has lived the dream and found the perfect wedding gown while wandering through Georgetown. Carrie, a speech-language pathologist in Prince William County, Virginia, was kind enough to share her story--and a ton of beautiful photos. Some valuable advice after the jump!

When you got engaged, did you expect to get a vintage wedding gown?

I didn’t have set in my mind “I have to have a vintage wedding dress,” but, looking back now, all the pictures I was marking in magazines as ones I liked had some sort of vintage style to them. But as I started my journey in finding the perfect dress, it all fell into place.

What were some of the things you had in mind when you started looking for a dress?
Trying on the dress for the first time at Annie Creamcheese

I think I knew what I didn’t want more than I knew what I wanted. I knew I didn’t want a cookie-cutter dress from a big name bridal store, didn’t want ‘froofy’ and wanted something to fit our reception site (our reception was in an 1800’s barn, exposed beams, country-setting). I’ve always had a love for vintage clothing, so dress styles I gravitated to had touches of that.

Tell me how you came across the dress-how did you know it was "the one?"

We decided to make an afternoon in Georgetown with my husband and another couple—literally just meandering around, having a nice afternoon. When we were driving through Georgetown to find parking, I saw a sign for a store that said “designer vintage clothing” and said, “I don’t care what other places we see, I HAVE to go in that store before we leave.” So we made it into the store eventually (called Annie Creamcheese) and I was looking around to see what all they had. I ventured over to the special occasions section, looked through some hangers, and saw this dress folded over a hanger.

Obviously "the one!"

STILL at this point I had no intentions of even looking for a possible wedding dress. Anyways, when I saw this dress, I thought it was absolutely beautiful. Emily and another store employee convinced me to try it on “just for fun.” As soon as I put it on I knew it was my dress, and could see it all fall into place. There was no way I was leaving the store without the dress, but I had to send some quick text message pics to my Mom, who was pretty disappointed she couldn’t be with me to find my dress, but as soon as she saw me in it in real life she completely understood. We knew we had still had some work ahead of us though with making it fit and having it not be see-through.

The beautiful, delicate birdcage veil
I had the same ‘a-ha’ experience when I was deciding on veils. My gut instinct told me I HAD to wear a birdcage veil. Not only would it top off the vintage flair, but it created such a timeless look and be a dramatic statement (I’m a small town girl—never been to a wedding where the bride didn’t wear a cathedral veil). I was slightly nervous this would be too much of a costumey-look, so I did try on other veils, but my mind always kept on coming back to the birdcage veil.

How difficult were the alterations? Were you nervous about changing a vintage dress?
Not quite right--and not a happy camper.

I went through two sets of alterations. The dress required some sort of slip/under dress to make it not see-through. I went to a small shop and asked them to make a slip dress for underneath. It looked “OK,” but in my opinion, still wasn’t exactly what I pictured and showing off just how beautiful the dress was. I searched and searched for someone who could do alterations. I knew it needed someone who was familiar with vintage material and was very concerned with keeping the integrity of the dress as well. I found a woman in Richmond who did just exactly that and helped me re-work the top and figure out a more appropriate under-layer for the dress.

During the second round of alterations
How did your family, friends and guests react when they learned your dress was vintage?
After the initial upset feeling my Mom had in not getting to share the experience of dress shopping, she and the rest of my family loved sharing the story about how I found my dress and the era it was from. It created a lot of excitement about how the final product would look on my wedding day. Once I had the vintage dress, it also helped a lot of the other little details related to the wedding fall into place. Guests at the wedding who didn’t know the back story behind my dress were all asking, “I love your dress, where did you get it?’ at which I said, “it’s vintage,” and proceeded to tell them where and how I found it. I almost felt a sense of pride knowing I had a one of a kind dress that was so special and unique.

Good as new! (Maybe even better!)

The beautiful finished product

What advice would you give to other brides who are considering a vintage gown or accessories?

In my case, if I would have really thought about all my love for vintage clothing, I would have immediately thought about getting a vintage dress. But I think brides can sometimes be intimidated by creating a look using vintage pieces because it’s not always what you picture as a little girl wearing on your wedding day. And a lot of times, especially in my case, it’s not the typical option. I think I would advise them not to be afraid to explore vintage dresses, especially if they are looking for a “unique” wedding dress. There really would be no other better option than a beautiful vintage gown. If the thought of an entire vintage gown is still nerve-racking, there are beautiful vintage accessories and jewelry that can dress up any wedding dress. Brooches can be used as an embellishment on a hand-tied flower bouquet, an ivory beaded purse could be used for carrying all the necessary items, or beautiful vintage costume jewelry can make the eye-catching statement to any dress.


Alerations said...

If you are in Phoenix don't miss Almond Tree for amazing gowns at affordable prices.



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