Enchanted Winter Wedding I
Making the Mystical Empress Wedding Attire
Setting: Snowy Winter Wonderland in Winter Park, CO
Date: Winter Solstice, December 21, 2015
Day of Week: Monday
Goal: Planning a wedding on a small budget with a 4 week lead time.
“Why such a short notice?” you might ask. Well, you see, I’m an astrologer, a numerologist, a life coach, and a shaman. I take things very magically seriously, like the timing, location, and symbolism of an event. In 12 months time, I had literally found only 2 possible wedding dates that fit my requirements, and they did not “appear” until they were needed.
Throughout the process of designing my dress and planning my wedding, I took meticulous notes and pictures to share with some other lucky fairy princess, in hopes that she might too have the wedding of her dreams! This first blog installation is about designing the wedding attire and flowers. Part II will cover the magical aspects of the wedding, including astrological timing.
The Mystical Empress Enchanted Wedding Dress:
Scanning through pictures on Pinterest, I fell in love with a multi-pastel-colored wedding gown, only problem– I could not find the designer of the dress. The only posted information was on a French blog, (as so often the case on Pinterest). Undaunted, I began collecting pictures ranging from Renaissance, prom, fairy, to traditional wedding. I looked at white, ivory, rainbow, blue, and gray dresses. I created a wedding board on Pinterest and on Ebay. In 2 weeks time, I literally viewed over a thousand dresses, and they were either too small or would take too long to ship to the United States.
After countless musings over the French dress, a wonderful, magical idea came to mind! What if I could water color paint a dress to achieve the same, blended, pastel effect? Newly inspired, I began looking at used, vintage wedding dresses as a base for the wonderful art project that was unfolding!
(the original dress before my butterfly transformation)
I was specifically looking for a silk , lace, or tulle dress with a long train and sleeves to keep me warm. The common wedding dress fabrics, satin and velvet, are considered unlucky, poverty ridden. I found a light, lacy vintage dress; however, I waited to buy it, and it was sold within 2 days! (If you’re ordering a vintage dress, DO NOT wait days to place your order!) Saddened, I continued my search, hours on end, looking for the perfect dress. Finally, I found it in Texas! It was a 1980’s gown, a bit over-the-top, as the 80’s were, with tons of “poof”, lace, and beading. As I looked at the photo’s, I imagined cutting off much of the “fluff”.
If you’ve ever ordered a formal dress, you will know that sizing is almost impossible to determine–and if it’s a used gown, it’s most likely been altered. Immediately upon arrival, I tried on the dress, and OH NOOO! The zipper WOULD NOT close! I stood in the bathroom crying because I could not figure out what to do. From my vantage point, it seemed like the zipper was about 4 inches too narrow. I literally had 2 weeks to pull this together! I talked to one of my dear friends, who mentioned the corset in the back of her wedding gown. We agreed I should try sewing in a corset. My mind started designing a corset, but thankfully, I decided to search the web to see, if maybe, just maybe, someone else sold pre-made corset inserts. Voila! Someone else was as brilliant as we were and had created corset panels to put in dresses. A very nifty idea—to update an old gown, as well as give yourself more breathing room.
(inserting the corset and cutting off sleeves and top)
As my fiancé and I live together, I had to keep my dress hidden. Thus, I hung a sheet between the dining area and the rest of the home, while I tirelessly worked into the wee hours of the morning. I studied the design of the dress and decided to remove the entire “top” portion of the dress. (Another advantage of a used dress, you’re more willing to take risks.) By removing the poof sleeves and top of the dress, the dress became a halter style. I revamped the sleeves into long sleeve gloves. I cut out the back zipper and hoped for the best. Working alone, I did not have assistance to help me size the dress, so I pinned it around my body as I hand sewed it. I tried to keep all excess fabric & lace for other wedding related creations. I had no idea where I was headed next!
I poured over flowers and colors, looking for a theme. I wanted blues included because they denote fidelity, honor, and loyalty. I really didn’t want roses, as I felt they’re overdone in weddings. I chose purple Ranunculus meaning: charmed and dazzled by your presence, blue/purple Delphinium meaning: Divinity, Protection, Fun, Joy & Brevity, purple Orchid meaning: feminine strength, sexuality, love, & passion, and blue Campanula/Canterbury Bells, also known as “Venus’ Looking Glass” meaning: everlasting love, humility, delicacy, and affection. Canterbury Bells are also a fairy favorite!
I bundled the flowers together looking for an easy flowing blend, and then I purchased watercolors in the same color tones. The orchid had a touch of peach, which was also picked up in the water colors. We picked out a neck tie and a roll of ribbon that perfectly matched the Ranunuculus purple. In the days of knights, the knight’s fair lady offered her beloved a token of protection and affection from her wardrobe, and this became what is known today as a boutonniere.
(flowers: orchid, ranunculus, delphinium, campanula)
After the corset was finished, I then sewed elastic arm straps inside my long sleeve gloves. For the sleeve gloves, I also attached pieces of white tulle beneath, to offer the magic of long, flowing, Renaissance sleeves. Finally, I needed straps to hold up the halter top. I couldn’t decide if I wanted the straps to be left bare or cover them in ribbon or lace. I decided sewing painted lace around the elastic straps would look best.
After the sewing was completed, I filled my bathtub with Tide and Epsom Salt. I washed the dress and sleeves to remove dirt and other people’s energies.
(sewing lace on elastic straps and sewing elastic inside sleeve)
Once the dress had dried to dampness, it was time to paint it. The slight moisture would help magically blend the paints. I used 6 different colors: hot pink, purple, turquoise, peach, light blue, & dark blue. In all of my art projects, I always make sure to do a test run before jumping in. I painted some of my scrap beaded fabric and lace to see how the paints would work. I had no idea if the beads and sequins would “catch” the paint. Fortunately, the paint slid right off, leaving the beads & fabric vibrant and magical!
(watercolor painting the dress)
This was a huge dress to hand paint, as the lace train was long and wide. I decided to paint all the way through the lace and tulle and onto the slip because I wanted the colors to be solidly visible.
As I painted the lace and beaded portions of the dress and sleeves, I varied the colors except around the border of the dress: I used purple and pink exclusively there. I wanted a “framing” effect. Because of the excessive purple & pink paint, I had to purchase a second set of paints. Next, I painted the tulle flowing down the sides of the dress and under the sleeves. I put my hands in the paints and wiped them onto the tulle, then I put my hands in water to blend the colors so they wouldn’t be blotchy. Afterward, I put hair spray on the sleeves’ tulle and dusted them with glitter.
Once the painting is completed, I recommend that you put your dress in a clothes dryer, on delicate, or take a hair dryer and heat the fabric to set the paint. I forgot to do this step, and I felt some anxiety that the snow would wash away my paints. However, the paint stayed firmly in place. Still, if I had it to do over, I would’ve heated the painted fabric.
While I was waiting for the dress to dry completely, I began designing the floral aspects of the wedding. I gathered all my blossoms and organized them into a flowing color combination. I took a topiary stand, cut it to size and hot glued my flower blossoms around the ball. I took ribbon that matched my fiance’s tie and covered the stick handle of the bouquet. Next, I used painted scrap lace for my fiance’s boutonniere. For both floral arrangements, I made sure to include blossoms as well as buds, indicating love, joy, and blessings continuing to blossom throughout the marriage.
Next, I cut strands of white cording, doubled them back and hot glued flowers down the cords to give a whispy, fairy-feel to the full skirt. I did not sew these flower cords to the dress, but rather pinned them under the bodice. I wanted to be able to remove them when the dress goes into storage, so the flowers won’t be damaged. I hot glued flowers to the tops of the sleeve gloves and to the top of the halter bodice. I took a spray of orchids and pinned them to the back of the dress just beneath the corset, again, so I could pull them off the back of the dress while in storage.
Hair is DNA essence of people; therefore, I clipped my hair and my fiance’s hair and bound the strands together in a small piece of lace and sewed it to the underside of the dress. This combination ensures longevity.
I wanted to style my hair to blend with the dress, so I used individual flower blossoms and delphinium leaves for hair accessories. I hot glued thin copper jewelry wire behind the flowers and wound them into spiral shapes that could be twisted into my hair.
Tradition holds that a sachet made for the wedding will serve as an eternal reminder of wedding day dreams and happiness. Thus, I used a piece of scrap lace to hold multiple dried flowers that my fiancé had given to me during our courtship. I added other herbs and plants to insure the best things in life: fertility/patchouli, mistletoe/happiness, lavender/peace, health/geranium, longevity/sage, love/rose, luck/violet, money/chamomile, joy/iris, protection/bay, success/clover, strength/thistle, fidelity/crown vetch. Orange blossoms are the top wedding flower, and although I could not find any orange blossoms dried or silk, I put neroli oil on the sachet. It smells divine!
I fully intend to wear this dress as a fairy costume, and I’m already thinking of making the train detachable. I enjoyed this process so much, I may make more magical costumes!
Mystical, Enchanted Blessings,
Supplies: I purchased the dress on EBAY and all other accessories came from Hobby Lobby.