Thursday, October 30, 2008

the wedding: bridesmaids dresses

In the beginning, I was thinking to dress my five gorgeous bridesmaids in something fresh and informal, accentuating the country element of our venue. The first inspiration boards I loved were white&green or white&yellow. I'd never seen a green or a yellow wedding before! I was considering a morning brunch (to cut costs, which didn't pan out) and would've loved to see my bridesmaids in cheerful, mismatched dresses like these:

They were always going to have different styles of dresses, that was not even negotiable for me. I also love the sense of fun and informality that a print adds, but as we're (literally, atmospherically) a season behind trends from the US and Europe, I couldn't find any in Cape Town.

When it turned into a late afternoon ceremony, I thought something a bit more formal would do. I also realised at this point that my girls aren't 18 year old innocents, they're beautiful grown women. So I started looking for something a bit more grown-up glamorous.

Voracious reading of wedding blogs at this point gave me an overdose of green and or yellow weddings, and the thrill faded for me. I just wasn't ready to commit to colour. Which led me to this perfect picture:

And for those who think frothy little frocks might be a bit more cocktail party than wedding party, I also adore these.

So by now I was thinking grey, and Bombshell in Colorado spotted the perfect little grey dress in my favourite cheapo store, Forever 21. Obviously it would've been a real bargain. Thinking about summer in the countryside though, grey didn't feel quite right, so I started thinking about white. And then I saw this:

Amazing right?
Sadly, coordinating this kind of look across three continents, and still making it just a little bit obvious which one of us is the bride, was more of a challenge than I was up for. I also started worrying about different shades of white, off-white and ivory and how the wrong mix could make some dresses look dirty. Not a good look. Then I found and ordered my gown, which turned out not to be the sheer, simple, understated frock I was dreaming of. Back to the drawing board then and the simplest answer in the world presented itself: lbd.

These are a bit formal and shiny for me, but you get the gist. LOVE a bit of lace in black too...

As proven before, I'm not a big fan of black. But picturing the hotel, the late evening light, chandeliers and candles, my glam dress and BB's rock star outfit (more later) it was suddenly the only option that made sense. It also saved a lot of trouble in coordination and matching/mismatching so I resignedly informed the girls that they're each to find a black dress that they adore, that adores them back and they'd love to have anyway.

books & values: a meme from broke-ass bride

I've been tagged by my favourite broke-ass bride, so here goes.

First off is the "Bookworm Award".

The rules are as follows...Pass it on to six other bloggers, and tell them to open the nearest book to page 56. Write out the fifth sentence on that page as well as the following few sentences. The CLOSEST BOOK, NOT YOUR FAVORITE, OR MOST INTELLECTUAL!!

Gone With The Wind: page 56. Fifth sentence.

"These people, drawn from many different places and with many different backgrounds, gave the whole life of the County and informality that was new to Ellen, an informality to which she never quite accustomed herself."

Why miss Scarlett, that dress would do me just fine as my wedding gown!

Now we have the "Kreativ Blogger Award".

The rules are to list 6 things you value and 6 things you don't and then pass this award on to 6 people!

6 things I value:

1. Loyalty. In love, in friendship, in business, in life. I've taken some hard lessons in this field.
2. Diplomacy. I don't see why it's necessary to hurt people with truths that aren't revelant.
3. People who laugh easily. I mean, why on earth not?
4. Siblings. A relationship fraught with complexities, but if you get it right so ultimately rewarding.
5. Saying please and thank you gratuitously. It doesn't cost you anything.
6. A good haircut. I had one, once. It was fantastic.

I'm sooo tempted to go this way after the wedding!

6 things I don't:

1. Gossip.
2. Winter. You lovely winter brides make a very good case for it, but I can not be swayed!
3. TV. I've discovered I can live without it! Just don't take my internet away...
4. The postal service in SA. Where are the missing invites, huh?
5. Ex-girlfriends. Still struggling with this one just a tiny little bit.
6. Hot pants. I guess I'm just too old.

Great picture though!

Now I tag:

That [engaged] girl
Dance Floor Tragedy
Baby, picture this
Eight years in the making
Hey, no one's perfect
London Bride

the wedding: theme

Once we had our venue, we started thinking florists/decorators. As I mentioned before, we only knew one such company who did our friends' wedding and they happen to be considered one of the most innovative, avant garde florists around. Perfect for us then!

We had a meeting with Alwyn at Okasie, hopefully succeeding in illustrating our dream day clearly. We had to write a couple of paragraphs regarding our likes and dislikes, our style and the mood we were going for. It's quite hard to put these ideals into words, but I still like some of the thoughts that came out of that little worksheet.

Overall impression desired: Stylish, unique, romantic, intimate.

Two diverse ideas: 1. Romantic, vintage, classic with a touch of modern glamour.
2. Very clean, modern, simple, minimalist.

Other ideas to incorporate: Contemporary Afrikaans.
Comfortable chic.

Colour Options: white only / white & tiffany blue / white & chartreuse.
No flowers? Just glass/crystal/metallics/candles/beads/ribbons?
Patterns: modern damask/brocade, stripes, polka dots.

Mood / Theme: Contemporary impression of Colonial / Cuban / Deep South.
G&Ts / Mojitos / Mint juleps, white gauze, slow fans, palms.

Favourite flowers:

1. lily of the valley, 2. Hydrangea Blossom, 3. White Peony, 4. white tuberose, 5. Scented bokeh, 6. White petals, 7. White Frangipani Flower, 8. Gardenia..., 9. Oh Sweet Pea!

Preferred containers: Mismatched. Quirky, patterned, coloured, fun.

Other notes: I love chandeliers!

Okasie came up with this fabulous mood board:

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

the wedding: i couldn't resist

Ordering some of these from here...
Do you blame me?

Surprise BB!
I love you.
Don't be mad?

PS: babypicturethis, it's all your fault!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

the wedding: invites

The very first page I ever tore from a wedding magazine, was this one:

I adore the quirky cute vintage style, which somehow remains quite elegant. I tried making my own save-the-dates based on this one, but that was just ridiculously over-ambitious. Especially considering I only have MS Paint. Eventually, and quite late in the game, I went to see Elsje Designs. Elsje also loved the concept and got to work making it our own.

We had a few hiccups during the process. Finding the right, graphic/iconic images proved much harder than I would’ve thought. There are plenty of vintage images available, and lots of modern ones, but finding a picture that is both at the same time? Not so easy.
Then we also struggled with the font. Elsje found a gorgeous, flawed, inky script that we loved but it came out quite illegible in our text. Then she hated the font we found, saying she’s seen it on every bubble bath bottle and “elegant” menu. This is the kind of input I really value!
Somewhere along the way we lost the part of the RSVP section that gives the date by which RSVPs are due. Oops. It didn't bother me too much as I know people are usually lax to reply anyway, whether there is a deadline or not.
When we approached the end of the line all local suppliers had run out of white on black polka-dot paper and the entire range had been discontinued! I drove around from one paper store to the next, reluctantly settling on silver dots on black for the last batch.
It sounds like about 10 mailed invites out of 90 never made it to their final destinations. That makes me sad… We didn’t print a return address on the envelopes so who knows where they lie now, all forlorn.

Elsje Designs printed the envelopes as well. Originally I thought I’d do that myself to save a bit, but laziness and delay overwhelmed me. I was so happy when we received them though, as the envelopes have sticky strips so no licking required!

I picked the chartreuse colour at random. So far our wedding is basic black and white, which is really weird, as BB and I both love bold colours and our wardrobes are distinctly free of ubiquitous black.

Maybe that’s the problem though, we could never pick just one colour. Our shared favourites are red, apple green, electric blue, and the combination of charcoal & turquoise. My seasonal favourites are lime green, fuchsia and coral. I dare you to come up with an inspiration board that finds the balance there!

Monday, October 27, 2008

one year ago today

The best thing in the world happened to me.
And it's still happening every day.

The best man for me, asked me to be with him for as long as we shall be blessed to share this world.
And still nothing on this earth could make me happier than knowing this is so.

He is my new best friend.
He gets me.
He makes me smile and laugh, and then smiles and laughs at how much I smile and laugh.

I thank God and every single person I have ever cared for, who ever cared for me, for growing me building me preparing me for this love.

This love that knows no bounds, contains within it such joy and affirmation of all the potential for happiness that lies within a shared understanding, mutual respect and infinite trust.

I love you, my Beautiful Boy.

In honour of the anniversary, some pictures of the ring that crowned the day. Typically, as soon as I was engaged, I saw rings and references to rings everywhere!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

coming out of the closet

I wasn't sure whether I'd ever show our faces, but now I love these pics too much. Our fantastic wedding photographer took these YESTERDAY 24 October and they're already up on his blog. Gotta love it.
Guess I've really done it now!

Friday, October 24, 2008

an interlude: crime, loss and great good deeds

As you might have realised by now, nothing on this blog happens without a twist. So instead of just ordering the Papillon from the lovely ladies at Designer Loft in NYC, I decided to wait and see what I might find in San Francisco. We were on our way to Pebble Beach Golf Resort for a few days, after which FMIL and I would stay on in SF. I boarded the plane for SF and BB in one of my fab new F21 outfits, bridal magazine in hand, thrilled with life. I couldn’t wait to see my Beautiful Boy! It was the longest we'd been apart since he came home and I can only assure you that absence made the hearts grow fonder and I was ecstatic to be reunited and on holiday with my darling and his darling parents.

We were booked at a hotel on the waterfront and finally checked in at about 4pm. The confusing change in time zones meant I hadn’t eaten anything all day and I was starving. I convinced BB to quickly pop out for a burger before unpacking and meeting his parents for a nice dinner.

We stepped onto the street, a chill wind cooling the sunny day enough that I needed to get my gorgeous leather jacket (a 30th birthday gift from BB) out from my oversized hobo bag. The streets were packed with tourists milling around and the whole atmosphere was festive. Just a few steps from our hotel we found an In-N-Out burger. Cool! I’ve never had one before, and I just love trying out the American standards we always hear of on TV. BB went and ordered for me while I got us a table. When he arrived with my burger, my bag was taking up all the space on the little table so I removed my bag and put it under my chair. In South Africa I would've hooked it on the chair's leg or put my foot through the handle, but I was relaxed, on holiday, in the super security conscious US of A!

I remember I was quite caught up with my In-N-Out burger, it's so good! Much fresher and tastier than McDonalds, Burger King, Wendy's et al. I also hadn't seen my Beautiful Boy in a week, so I suppose I have to admit to being a little distracted by him too. We probably sat there for five minutes, maximum, but it was long enough.

When we got up I looked for my bag, annoyed that it wasn't where I'd left it, and then that cold but hot, calm yet hysterical feeling came over me and being me, I instantly burst into tears. No one around us had seen anything; it had just disappeared into thin air.

We started searching the area, checking rubbish bins and bathrooms and behind tables and chairs... nothing. I remember looking to BB every now and then and thinking, come on honey, you always sort everything out for me, find the bag! But it wasn't to be.

We spotted two police officers just across the road and went to file the report. All the while I'm bawling my eyes out and trying to remember the exact contents of my bag.

My gorgeous shiny purple Marc Jacobs wallet, with money, credit cards, driver's license. Argh, driver's license! What a mission to replace?

My adorable gold Nokia with 500 SMS's exchanged between BB and I during the long distance portion of our relationship! At this a fresh sob escapes me. The officers look concerned.

My BRAND NEW digital camera purchased in NYC the previous day. Damn!

My leather Lazaro makeup bag with my favourite pen, lip balm and memory stick.

The police officer is dutifully writing everything down, minus the adjectives, but to my annoyance he skips the pen, lip balm and memory stick! Although, I might've been mumbling in Afrikaans at some stages.

And then it hits me...


I'd hesitated in the hotel room, decided not to leave it there before I'd figured out how the safe works. I WAS AFRAID SOMEONE MIGHT TAKE IT FROM THE ROOM!


Passport includes my ten-year USA visa and (drum roll in my head as the light finally goes on) Mexican visa for next week!

So for the next week, while BB golfs at Pebble Beach with his Dad, I spend my days and nights pretending that I'm not shattered at my losses and trying to replace my passport and visas. These efforts included hours on the phone to voice automated government offices, a flight to the nearest SA Consulate in LA, trips between Pebble Beach and San Jose airport (thank you FMIL and BB!) and a constant run-around between police stations, embassies and travel agents. Not to mention time zone challenges and the fact that I'm at Pebble Beach in the middle of nowhere...

By Thursday BB and his Dad are on their way to Dallas on business, FMIL and I head back to San Francisco and the bad news is confirmed: even with my brand spanking new temporary passport in hand, I can't fly home via USA or the UK! So even if the Mexican Consulate in SF grants me an emergency visa in one day (which seemed unlikely!), all my flights from Mexico had to be rerouted via South America at great expense and there was NO WAY I would see my friends in London.

I'd dealt nicely with the financial/material losses at this stage, but this got me tearing up again. I'd been looking forward to our holiday in Mexico sooo much, it was the highlight of the trip for me, and two days in London was just the cherry on top. It seemed so unfair.

I wasn't ready to give up yet, though; so back in SF I tackled the various institutions once again, trying to get me to fly back into USA from Mexico. At the US Immigration office you're not allowed to have a cell phone with you, so I leave mine with FMIL and arrange to meet her four hours later when she's found us a hotel.

There I am running around SF on the hottest day in boots and jeans, overheating as I'm still trying to sort something out. I stop in at Kinko's to check my mail from the travel agent back home, and on a naughty whim decide to treat myself to two minutes on facebook. I spot a few messages in my inbox, one looks like spam cause it's from a Qasem Alloush? I almost don't open it, thinking it's junk. But the subject catches my eye: your passport.

You can just imagine my sense of wonder, surprise and disbelief as I read that Qasem picked up a passport and he thinks it's mine and a number to call him if it is indeed mine. I write down the number and jump up (almost forgetting BB's credit card there, oops close call!) to call Qasem. Mmm, small problem, no phone! And it's only one o'clock, I won't see FMIL or my phone for another three hours.

Long story short, well shortish: I called Qasem from a payphone, he answered, he was very kind and concerned, I almost cried with relief at hearing his voice, and then he said: he lives in San Jose, and he'd given my passport to the police.

Cue another long story about tracking down the passport at the correct police station. There is the San Jose Police Department, and then there is the San Jose State University Police Department. And the two have nothing to do with each other whatsoever. Then we move on to the chapter explaining how the police had misfiled the passport and denied having it. At this point I'm crying in frustration because now it's so close but still completely unattainable. BB and I both harass poor Qasem at this stage, trying to get as much information as possible about the handing over of the passport.

Eventually FMIL and I can't stand the red tape bureaucracy I'm getting over the phone and we jump back in our rental monster and drive out to San Jose (again). We find the State University PD and I make my case in front of an officer, threatening to personally search every vehicle and office there in order to find my passport. Eventually he realises he won't get rid of me and leaves the building to go look in another office. Five very tense minutes later he appears in the doorway, I look down to his hand, there is a small green book in it.

I nearly kissed him!

The first thing I did back in the car, after hugging FMIL and choking back more tears, was SMS Qasem. His reply was something like "Wow, so you are very happy now?" and the answer is yes, Qasem, I am oh so very happy now.

I know this travel ordeal was a small thing, an administrative nightmare that threatened only to take some pleasure from my trip. No one's life was endangered, no one was injured or ill or starving or living on the bread line. But that's the whole point.

In today's melancholy climate of global warming, economic depression, political mayhem, xenophobia, insane crime levels and every other reason to pop Xanax like Smarties, someone did something nice and decent and considerate, just because.

Maybe it's because he's also a foreigner in the US and understands the value of a passport? I don't know, but the fact is Qasem Alloush changed my life by picking up a passport lying around somewhere in San Francisco, he was smart enough to look for me on facebook (I wouldn't have thought of that!) and considerate enough to not just throw it in the bin when he didn't hear from me.

Thanks to that one act of random kindness, BB and I had the most incredible holiday in Mexico and got to spend time with dearest friends in London. I think that's a pretty big pay-off.

Oh, and to all the facebook haters out there, take that. I love facebook!

And so it happened that we left America, no dress ordered, various boutiques in SF still unvisited. All I had to show for it all was a very organised file filled to the brim with dress pictures, prices, order and shipping details, a lovely tan and a relaxed attitude courtesy of Qasem Alloush and Mexico...

Thursday, October 23, 2008

the wedding: dress part 4

Somewhere in between all the wedding dress shopping I’d spent an inordinate amount of time in Forever 21 and also bought my Boz frames. Yes, the very same sexy red frame for which this blog is named! FMIL told me about this quirky spectacle store she’d found on Union Square when she was in NY in February. Unfortunately, she’d been there on a Sunday and it was closed so she could only drool through the window. I was in the market for a new pair (long story, later!) and said I’d love to go with her and see this shop. Off we went and in we walked and there she pointed out this gorgeous red frame and I loved it, needed it, had to have it immediately. Now she loves telling people how I stole them out from under her, when she’d actually wanted them!

Anyhow, it was our last day in NYC and we started off with two boutique appointments. At Wedding Atelier we had the most charming girl from New Zealand to help us. The shop is pretty and light with huge change rooms and overall just a pleasant place to be. There was a Cymbeline dress I liked, a Chantilly lace sheath (no surprises there) but nothing came close to nudging any dress off the top three spots.

Final stop was Designer Loft and I did feel a quiver of excitement at getting to this store, because they stock Jenny Packham. One of the very first dresses I ever tore out of a magazine and that everyone agreed on, was the Eloise.

Looking through wedding magazines for a friend’s wedding a couple of years ago, I also adored this image. In fact, I still do.

So we arrived at the Loft and though the shop is quite crowded with dresses and people, everyone was so cheerfully loud that it felt like fun straight away. We went straight for the JPs and chose about 10 that I liked. Every dress was mind-blowingly beautiful. I think it’s the soft, floaty, fluid movement of her dresses that I’d been searching for in vain. They are voluminous and full but still hug your frame so you get romance and body-consciousness all at the same time. FMIL and I both had a bit of an emotional reaction to the Manouka. It’s so simple, so airy and clean. We loved it.

We went through the JP rack one last time and the lovely sales lady pulled out one more dress. “Oh no” I said, “Remember I said I don’t want any beading or bling…” She pleaded with me to try it just for her, I was really so well suited to Jenny’s dresses and she’d love to see it on me. Everyone at the Loft had been so kind and complimentary all along, without seeming desperate or false, I figured what’s the harm? So I stepped into the Papillon and came out to the big mirror and saw FMIL’s face. Then looked at my own. Oh goodness. It’s not exactly what I thought I’d go for, but it is a thing of beauty.

EDIT: I am such a fool. I know full well that my darling reads my blog every day... and then I went ahead and posted pics of the dress! Oh well, he claims he didn't really look, but just in case, I've decided to remove the pics for now. Sorry! (You could always google it if you want, but then so could he, so whatever man...)

So, unbelievably, it's now 23 days since my wedding and I can put the beautiful Papillon pictures back up here. I am still in love with this dress.

See, I knew it. I could never have fallen for the sketch, I'm just not visual enough!

It looks okay on the ramp.

It was good for me to see it worn in such a modern, minimalist way.

But this is the mood I totally adore.

And then, spoiler alert, me in it!

Sigh, I wish I could wear it again...

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

the wedding: dress part 3

BB was graduating in Madison in May 2008. It had always been the plan that his parents would attend; now it was the 4 of us. BB and his Dad also had to go to Taiwan and Dallas on business around this time and his Dad was taking him (and FMIL and me by default!) to Pebble Beach Golf Resort as his graduation present. They booked around-the-world tickets for them to incorporate everything.

My fab FMIL then convinced her husband that since we were flying out to the US via the East Coast anyway, us girls might as well stop over in NY on the way and then spend a couple of days in San Francisco (the closest big city to Pebble Beach) while they were working in Dallas.

Then BB and I started dreaming of a little holiday of our own to celebrate his accomplishment. We’ve got a long list of places we want to go, Mexico features. Then BB’s uncle told us that he had timeshare in Mexico and we could have a week! Talk about impossibly unbelievably great coincidences. We booked the mammoth itineraries involved.

FMIL and I flew out together; the boys were safely on their way to the Far East. We arrived in NYC, booked into our room and started walking. Now I may have told you what a wonderful person my FMIL is, but I haven’t mentioned yet that she’s also stylish, trendy and a serious shopper like me, be it window – or otherwise.

I came prepared, I’d done hours of research on the Internet and booked appointments in advance at places that had dresses that interested me. We spent four days in the city trekking from outlet wedding warehouse to upscale bridal boutique. My partner was keen, eager, enthusiastic and honest. Thank goodness for the honesty. I tried on at least 50 wedding dresses (we were in NYC damnit and had to make it count), probably more like a 100, and one was as different from the next as anything you can imagine. We visited RK Bridal, Bridal Garden, Kleinfeld, Pronovias, Wedding Atelier and Designer Loft.

With my stubborn conviction that I would find a fabulous bargain within 4 days, we went to the more economical stores first. At RK Bridal you don't need an appointment and on weekdays it's rather quiet so we pretty much had the entire place to ourselves. The racks and racks of plastic-covered paleness can be daunting, but armed with my printouts we went straight for the kill.

I tried on four different Watters dresses, including my beloved Brescia. I am tall and slim and quickly realised what a mixed blessing it is when almost every dress looks nice. They all looked nice. Nice was not gonna cut it though. FMIL was trying to remain objective but I could tell that she thought they were all too plain. I nattered on about fab shoes and blinging jewels to dress it up, she seemed unconvinced but open to persuasion. We left for the next store, Watters prices and shipping details in hand. I figured if the Brescia still haunted me over the next few days, I'd be very happy to marry in it.

The Bridal Garden is a non-profit boutique that sells not-quite-new designer gowns at up to 75% less than the original price. Some gowns are unworn samples donated by stores and designers. I thought I just might find a slightly older simple Vera Wang number here. Sadly, I think you have to actually live inside the Bridal Garden to ever be there when something great comes in. The dresses I tried there were simply outdated and outmoded. Next.

Just before leaving for NYC, I’d discovered Pronovias and lost my heart in a big way. If I was going to take FMIL up on her offer and go for a princess gown, it seemed that this was where I would find it. Their new flagship store had just opened in NYC a block from our hotel, so I bounced in one morning to see if I could get an appointment. The shop is gorgeous to the point of intimidation but the receptionist was so damn sweet and accommodating, I felt more and more sold on the whole brand.

When we arrived for my appointment the sales assistant was sadly not as lovely as the receptionist. She brought out the dresses I requested but didn’t seem interested in our feedback or opinions, she just steamrollered all over our expressed doubts and misgivings, seemingly desperate to make the sale. She was nice enough to offer me the store sample of my favourite dress, which would cut out all the waiting and shipping and stuff, but I just wasn’t convinced.

The dresses were all beautiful in a classic wedding way, but that was my problem. In the Pronovias advertisements and catalogue they style and shape the dresses so that even the more voluminous ones look quite slim and restrained. I’m quite convinced that this is only enhanced by the fact that they are modelled by the world’s prettiest top model Doutzen Kroes…When I tried them on (and as you can see in the catwalk pictures) they are really quite princess poufy.

We told Pushy Sales Lady that we still had an appointment at Kleinfeld’s. She very maturely and professionally trash-talked the stock, prices and sales staff of Kleinfeld’s, which had us scurrying out the door as quick as we could. Pushy ran out after us and shoved a gift bag in my hands. It turned out to be a lovely set of ivory silky pyjamas, thanks Pronovias!

At Kleinfeld’s we had a lovely sales lady, Pamela, helping us. She was kind and patient, she listened. I tried on a few dresses from Lazaro - we were back to the all-over-lace!

These dresses were imposingly beautiful but once again, quite traditional. If the fit was all soft and clingy it might have moved me more, but in reality the dresses were quite stiff and structured.
On the opposite end of the structured scale, I also love Claire Pettibone's whimsical fairy dresses, and got to try one on. It was so pretty, so sweet and frothy. Just a tad too sweet and frothy for me.

Then Pamela brought out an Amy Michelson number. Not the one I posted before, but the new season version of that dress. It’s all slinky and sexy, and it’s called: The Millionaire. What a name! FMIL, Pamela and I all gasped when I stepped out of the change room. That dress is va-va-voom. So glamorous, so look-at-me wow…

I loved it, it fit like a glove. Pamela said it was the first sample, it had just arrived, and we could leave with it. No ordering, no waiting, no shipping, no fuss. Stick it in my suitcase and fly it home. I was so tempted.

Another coffee-fuelled strategy session was necessary. I do not make impulsive decisions people, careful deliberation, that’s me. (Except of course the time I impulsively left my boyfriend of 10 years for a Beautiful Boy…)
Now, the problem with my indecision is that it only gets worse the more choice you give me. So I sat down with my list of shops and dresses and weeded them out. The final contenders were Brescia, Camara (the Pronovias dress with the big beads in two pictures above) and Millionaire. One was sweetly innocent, one dreamily romantic and the other one was sex-on-legs. Three aspects of my personality? Three different weddings? I could picture the Brescia at the ceremony on the veranda, the Camara in gorgeous pictures among the wheat fields and the Millionaire amidst twinkling chandeliers for the first dance.

When in doubt, get more options. I decided to let it all stew away in my brain until clarity came. Meanwhile, there were still two boutiques on my list for the next day!

Monday, October 20, 2008

the wedding: dress part 2

Luckily for Cape Town brides, the lack of bridal shops is countered by a good amount of fantastic, yet affordable designers. So BB’s Mom told me to make appointments with a few of them, and we’d see what they come up with.

A moment to explain why BB’s Mom in particular became so involved with The Dress: My Mom lives four hours away, which means she’s missed most of the wedding-planning shenanigans. My future mother-in-law is also a warm, funny, caring, understanding, generous, original, creative woman. No buts! I adore her, I can talk to her about anything and I know that I am insanely fortunate to have her as my mother-in-law (to-be).
We were discussing the wedding budget in detail with BB’s parents (oh goodness, there’s another three-part post waiting to happen). We came to our attire and I explained that I wanted something really simple, that I think it’s ridiculous to spend a fortune on a single-wear dress and that I’d be very happy to find something effortless and economical.
When I mentioned my sane, rational dress budget she protested politely. She said that this is the one opportunity I have to wear the most magnificent dress I can find and with the added consideration that I live for fashion, she didn’t want me to be overly restricted by price. So she offered to give me a dress, whichever dress I loved and desired within reason, purely as a gift from her to me, completely separate from our wedding budget. I was overwhelmed.

I assured her that it wouldn’t be necessary, that the things I like are not expensive anyway and that I was completely confident of finding my dream dress within my price range. She just insisted that the offer stood, and I excitedly arranged appointments with three designers.

Our first session was with a young designer, still working to establish herself in the industry. I found her card at a bridal fair in a mall and liked at least three of the ten dresses in her portfolio. I showed her my magazine pictures and told her which ones of hers I liked. She was sweet and personable and the great advantage was that she had a few empire line gowns I could try on. They looked pretty and the general feeling was right, but sadly the quality of workmanship was lacking. Because the cut and fit was not 100%, they were quite unflattering. I was always afraid that the goddess gown styles could make me look bigger, and this seemed to be true. So she guided me back to the more fitted, lacy style I also liked and drew a sketch of a dress similar to this.

We left the appointment knowing that her skills were just not up to scratch quite yet, and while her quote kept safely inside my original parameters, I found it cheekily pricey coming from an inexperienced designer.

The second designer we saw is a Big Name in weddings in SA. He made most of my married friends’ wedding dresses and he is Very Good. The whole appointment was very slick and professional, he asked a lot of background questions and seemed to get a good sense of different aspects of my personality. He also picked up on the fact that I actually still had no firm idea what my dress should look like and he must have realised that we were quite flexible on budget. Thus he proceeded to design a true statement gown.

I’ve never seen anything like it, I couldn’t attempt to describe it other than to say it would not have looked out of place in the Sex & the City Movie wardrobe. It was frilly and flamboyant, with layers of frothy lace, sensational sheer bits and coy covered buttons. I would love to see that dress on the catwalk, but not on me, not on my wedding day. We left distinctly deflated, disappointed that Big Name listened so attentively to all the diverse parts of me and then went to town considering mainly our bendable budget, my need for some simplicity left by the wayside.

Our next discussion was with Karen at Lunar: the perfect antithesis to Big Name’s grandiose overreaction. Lunar is a beautiful local label, see it for yourself at These word-images used on their site is a clear indication of their mood: (SHEER (NIGHT (ETHEREAL (LIGHT (COTTON (NATURE (TOUCH (BONE (SHIMMER (SKIN (TEXTURE (LOVE (GHOST (EARTH (FROST (WHISPER

By the time we went to see Karen, I’d started playing around on the internet and had fallen head-over-heels with a super simple silk chiffon sheath from Watters Brides. Brescia is completely understated, innocent, unassuming, light and breezy, effortless, with just a touch of sensuality from the back. I still adore it.

The best pictures of the Brescia can be viewed at

So I showed Karen all my references and made it clear that I did not want an over-designed showboat of a dress, just something simple. She designed a very beautiful, flowy, elegant improvement on the Brescia and quoted a fantastically good price. BB’s Mom and I went for coffee to dissect and discuss.

Out of all the dresses I’d tried on and the ones that had been designed for me, I definitely liked the Lunar dress best and the price was perfect. The only problem was, I could not make myself commit to a sketch. I am not an incredibly imaginative person and not very visually inclined either. I desperately wanted to see my dress in 3D, feel its texture and its flow, see it move and experience its weight. I could not be sure that the Lunar dress would feel right, would look special or glamorous enough. My indecision was debilitating.

BB’s mom was very patient and understanding, giving me time to talk it all through and try and discover my true wish. And then she said “Why don’t we stop over in New York on the way to BB’s graduation, and see what we find there? There will still be enough time to come back and order the dress from Lunar, so if we don’t find anything, we’re still sorted.” The woman is a genius! So with a little twisting of BB’s dad’s arm and a lot of excitement on our part, we started planning a dress-shopping trip to New York!

Friday, October 17, 2008

the wedding: venue pictorial

By public demand! These are my very amateur pics, it's even better in real life.

Cute walk street right across the road



Dining area