Yesterday we shot the second installment of our collection “Be Mine.” Preparation for the shoot had begun in earnest about a week earlier, but no matter how much planning we do beforehand, there’s always so much more to do day of!
The early morning hours found us “blinging” out a pair of glass slippers, steaming the dress, doing hair and make up and… trying to find a Price Charming for our Cinderella. Our first string Prince had fallen through and we were scrambling for a replacement. Fortunately, our very own knight in shining armor arrived just in time and we were off the Mesa Arts Center to shoot our baby blue gown Ella against a gorgeous Arizonan sunset.
There we met up with William of W Gates Photography and his lovely assistant, Lisa. One of the bad things about shooting with a sunset is the sunset won’t wait for you to get that extra shot in (no matter how nicely you ask) and…. it may not show up at all!
Our sunset yesterday was a no show – not a streak of orange, yellow or pink in sight, just grey, overcast clouds. No worries, though – our photographer had come with a Plan B and C and the shoot turned out beautifully! We can’t wait to reveal the pictures very soon, but in the meantime here are a few behind the scene sneak peaks!
I first met Lisa the morning of the Arizona Bridal Expo. Things had not gone to plan at all that morning. My business partner overslept, the other one was running late, my roommate suddenly had no idea how to tie up my corseted dress (I tried, it’s virtually impossible to do on your own!).
Things were a mess and my stress level was through the roof and somewhere in the stratosphere.
That day we were running late and just about everything that could have gone wrong had. I was setting up our booth and had the brilliant idea to put up our banner by myself. As I stepped onto my wobbly chair I thought to myself, “This is stupid.”
Yes, yes it was stupid, as I had time to reflect on during the next few seconds whilst falling off my perch directly onto my left kneecap. Thankfully, reinforcements showed up just in time and they were able to help complete the set up of our booth as I clutched my knee in pain, praying it wasn’t fractured.
I was still sitting on the floor trying to look graceful (I couldn’t put any weight on my left leg and was therefore was confined to the floor), when a voice appeared over my head. I looked, and there was a bride to be who looked as worried as worried could be.
There was Lisa, who had been drawn over to our booth by the sample dress of Fiona we had on display.
Call it kismet, but Lisa and I instantly clicked. She later told me that we were the first dress booth she had stopped by and that she immediately knew Virtuous Prom was the company for her. She didn’t look at any other retailers. Like her soul mate that she married this past weekend, we were it for her.
I vividly remember how worried Lisa was about her dress. She said it was the only thing she was worried about when it came to wedding planning, but boy was she worried. I’m not an overly physically affectionate person, but she was so worried after a minute or two I just reached out and held her hand and told her, “Everything is going to be OK. Let’s get together and talk about what you want in a dress, no pressure. You don’t have to buy your dress from us, but I know I can help you. You don’t need to worry.”
I meant every word of it and was ecstatic when Lisa gave me a call about a week later.
In the coming months we worked on the design for her wedding dress. Initially, Lisa was so overwhelmed we literally went through each decision step by step. What kind of neckline do you like? Square? Rounded? Sweetheart? We went through every facet of the dress baby step by baby step until Lisa had the confidence to say, “This is the design. Let’s make it.”
When Lisa’s dress was finished, it was overwhelmingly beautiful. She had asked for “bling” and we delivered on that in spades. The pictures I took really don’t begin to do it justice.
I drove over to Lisa’s place for the “reveal.” As I unzipped the garment bag and Lisa looked at her dress for the first time she audibly gasped. It was perfect. It was exactly what she had dreamed of.
There was an electricity in the air as I lovingly took the dress out and she ran her fingers over the hand beading and lace. There was a sort of magic in the air. This was her dress. The dress.
When she went to try it on, there was a twinge of nervousness – would it fit? Would the zipper make that awful sound everyone woman has heard at least once in her life when her zipper doesn’t want to zip?
The dress fit perfectly. It didn’t need to be hemmed, altered, taken in or let out. It was exactly Lisa’s size.
When I saw Lisa walk down the aisle this past weekend, I’ll freely admit I teared up, not only to see my friend marry the love of her life, but because, in my own small way, I had helped her along in her fairy tale romance.
Throughout the night I was complimented on Lisa’s dress. It was all Lisa, I told them. All I did was help. “Oh, no…” her friends and family said kindly, “you really did a great job.” I smiled and thanked them, not wanting to argue over the compliment.
Back before the Industrial Revolution made it possible to manufacture things like clothing on a mass scale everything was bespoke, as in “it was bespoken” and then made exactly to the client’s wishes.
Very quickly people realized that buying something mass produced was a lot cheaper and the tradition of bespoke largely died out.
Well, we’re bringing bespoken back! Yah!
You ladies don’t know where fab is at! Yah!
(Sorry, Justin Timberlake… I just couldn’t resist!).
But in all seriousness, having a dress customized can be a truly wonderful and amazing experience!
1) You get to control the design. Whether it’s showing us a picture or giving us a jump off point for inspiration, this dress is your design and NOBODY else’s. It’s exclusively yours! One of a kind couture, some might even say!
2) It will fit you without needing to be tailored extensively.
One of the reasons we got started at Virtuous Prom is a good friend had recently helped his niece “hem” her dress by using double sided sticky tape. The niece and her family had made a special journey, traveling hundreds of miles to the nearest big city to purchase a prom dress, only to be greatly disappointment. They didn’t find anything there that was modest enough or that began to fit properly. Crushed, they selected the least of all evils for her to wear to the prom, went home and “hemmed” it with an office supply.
Hearing about this debacle made me want to help out women everywhere. Very quickly I realized that tall girls have problems finding longer dresses, shorter girls need them hemmed (which can be quite costly) and 99% of girls don’t have their bust, waist and hips all sharing the same size. One of our models has a 10/12 size bust, a size 6 waist and size 8 hips. When a pre-made dress fits her bust, it hangs down the rest of her like a potato sack!
Retailers do their best, but they just can’t account for the unique and beautiful diversity we all possess. Having your dress custom made, however, makes all those issues a breeze.
3) We will help you with every step of your design!
Most of the gals I work with have a really clear idea of what they’d like, but not everybody does. One bride, Lila, that I worked with was so nervous and overwhelmed that we literally went through every aspect of the dress step by step: Do you like lace? Ivory or white? A scoop neck? No sleeves? Long sleeves? And so on. She very quickly gained confidence and her dress turned out AMAZING. When I saw the finished product in all its glory all I could say was, “Wow, wow, wow…. about twenty times in a row”
Next on “To Customize or Not to Customize,” we’ll talk more about Lila’s dress, the in depth side of collaboration, the electricity in the air when she first saw her wedding dress and of course pictures of her on her big day!
In the meantime, here’s a selection of some of the custom work we’ve done recently:
We were commissioned to make a dress based on a a $1300 gown from Latter-day Bride in Salt Lake City. We ended up saving the bride over $1,000 and we matched the pattern, cut and even the lace to perfection!
Not quite sure what looks good on you? Still trying to figure out what compliments your figure and your coloring? Here’s your very own guide to finding your perfect prom dress.
The finishing touches…
We just had a few extra notes we wanted to add to finish off this series; tidbits of this and that.
Corsets (lace up backs) create BEAUTIFUL waistlines, even if you already have a rockin’ waist. They just create a gorgeous look. They require a friend to help with, but they are so lovely and have a wonderful fairy tale quality to them.
Don’t be afraid to play around with embellishments or go a little (or a lot!) outside of your comfort zone. There are so many different ways to accent a dress, the possibilities are nearly endless!
There are also a myriad of other skirt style options, including tulle over sequins (Paige), multi-layered, multi-colored skirts (Giovanna, one of our all time favorites!), or ruffled skirts like Joli. Sky’s the limit, ladies!
Bling. Could we ever say enough about bling? Probably not! You can add bling virtually anywhere, whether it’s all over (as with a sequin dress like Valerie), on the shoulders (like Twilight and Crystal), on the bodice (as with Jeanette), on the waist as with Avril and Joli (pictured above) or on the neckline (as with Amy, also pictured above).
And the options don’t stop there… there’s always ruching at the waist (ruching is great at camouflaging “trouble” areas, as can be seen on Giovanna, pictured above), floral motifs (like Claire, pictured below), lace (like on Sidney, pictured above and Calista, pictured below), gathered bodices (like Hydrangea), ruffles (Camellia), pleating (as on Elisabeth, also pictured below), modest knee-high slits (Bailey)… the list could go on and on! But go on ladies, shake it up, try something new and you may just find a style that is exactly “you!”