On July 17th, 2015, I woke up to the most special day of my life. It’s one of those rare and indescribable days when so much is happening that you know you couldn’t possibly remember it all, and when you’re in utter awe of what’s going on all around you – you’re hurrying to get ready with your hair and makeup just like any other day, only that this day you have people helping you, and you need a solid three assistants just to get into your petticoat, silk gown, tiara, jewelry, shoes and veil… And just once you finally get done and are about to rush out for pictures, you glance back at yourself in the mirror and almost lose it – Oh my gosh! That’s me in the wedding dress! I’m getting married! You go into the sanctuary for pictures and see your dear fiance all dressed up in his tuxedo, looking ever so dapper and calmly beaming. You feel your heart about ready to burst as all your dearest friends gather on the almost regal stage for photographs, and you smile and laugh like you never have before… It feels almost heavenly, but you must come back down to earth and hide away once more in the bridal prep room so guests can take their seats. Then, just when you’re about ready to leave the room for the last time and huddle behind the sanctuary doors, you feel a sudden rush of emotions – wishing time could stand still, and that you could just take in the wonder of the moment. There, all around you, are the dearest girls and ladies to you in the world – the ones who have been there for you through your childhood or adulthood, and they’re all dressed up like they’ve never been before, all pearl earrings and ballgowns and smiles… And they’re there for your wedding!
But before you know it, you’re all filing out the door, slightly nervous and with a fluttering heart, and within a few short minutes you take that long walk down the aisle, into a new and wonderful life… And the next thing you know, you’re at your reception, dancing and celebrating and indescribably joyful, and you feel that this is the climax of your whole life – a golden, rosy, perfectly splendid evening where you get to waltz with your dad and perform a dance with your husband in the big silk ballgown that you sewed yourself, and you secretly thank yourself for reinforcing that seam just one more time, so there’s no chance of it tearing during all the festivities…
This is the story of my incredible wedding day to my fabulous husband, and it may take a few blog posts to recount the entirety of it. I am so thankful to God for bringing us together, and for giving me the happiest “happily ever after” I could dream about! (Here is the story of how we met at a ball!)
The Wedding Day Part 1
(You can click on each photo for a larger version.)
The Gown: Designed & Sewn by Me (Here’s the story of how I made it)
I wore white fur slippers with sparkles while getting ready! We all had matching red robes for the preparations, so we didn’t get makeup and hairspray on our beautiful gowns…
My sweet junior bridesmaid putting in her pearl drop earrings…
My silk and lace gown hung neatly in the room.
The bridesmaids wore their hair in French twists. Janelle did a super job on everyone!
Chiffon ruffles and roses down the back of the skirt, and gathered gold lace at the neckline – these are a few of my favorite trims. 😉
I was so thankful Jessie could do my makeup! She is one of the top Mary Kay makeup artists in the United States, and despite being very pregnant she did all the makeup for the entire bridal party, plus the two mothers!
All my ivory and gold accessories were put out ready to go! (The ivory satin gloves with gold beading came all the way from South Africa via my dear friend Jennie Chancey of Sense & Sensibility Patterns! She’s been such a dear friend to me for years, and I was thrilled that I was able to Skype her into the wedding reception later on!)
My sweet mama and bridesmaids helped me into my gown. I had been slightly nervous while stuck in the hair and makeup chair that they didn’t have everything ready – “Do you guys have my gown ready? And the jewelry and veil? And my shoes?” But yes, they had everything all ready to go! I think they got me into the gown in about 60 seconds flat, which was good since we were behind schedule for pictures.
Me and my mama.
Before I knew it, we were all ready to go get our pictures taken!
And here’s a peek at the ballroom right before the guests arrived.
I just can’t wait to share pictures of my wedding here on the blog, but first I wanted to show you the pictures of the wedding rehearsal!
On the morning of my wedding rehearsal, I woke up completely elated. My then-fiance’ and I talked on the phone together, before I did seemingly dozens of last-minute wedding tasks with the help of my mother and brother. All the wedding favors were assembled, the gowns were hanging up neatly, and the framed descriptions for the heirloom wedding gown display were printed. In just a few short hours, my all-time best girlfriend would be flying in from out of state for the rehearsal, and the last time I’d seen her was at her wedding two years earlier!
My extremely sweet fiance drove about an hour from the other side of town to join me in picking up my maid of honor from the airport. I want to point out that in the months that we’d been courting and engaged, my sweet guy had driven probably hundreds of miles in his vehicle to come see me… He is such a sweetheart!
Then came the moment when we stood at the end of the walkway waiting for the passengers to deboard, and there she was! My best friend Eszter that I’d known, loved, and prayed with since I was 12 years old. Seeing her in person, it really kind of hit me just how big this day was! Oh my goodness ~ I’m getting married! Eszter just showed up for my wedding! This is going to happen so soon!
For the day of the wedding rehearsal, I wore a salmon colored 1950s dress which I sewed from an out-of-print vintage pattern! (Pattern on the right in the photo below – McCalls 4008.)
Upon arriving at the wedding venue, I nearly squealed with excitement when I saw the decorations coming together in the ballroom! The tables were covered with ivory linens, and alternating peach and gold satin runners. The pillars were hidden in chiffon, which I knew would look dazzling when the tiny white lights were turned on underneath the fabric. It was so exciting!
As the shiny dance floor was empty, I jumped at the opportunity to practice our first wedding dance with Lars! While we had been practicing for months, we had never yet tried out the choreography in that large of a space, so I was just slightly nervous. And what do you know, but my maid of honor snapped a video of us rehearsing on her phone! 😀 So guess what I just uploaded to Youtube today? While this video clip doesn’t show the entire dance, you can at least see the end of it… And yes, I WILL be sharing the footage of the actual wedding reception dance very soon!
Then it was time for the rehearsal to begin in the chapel, which honestly looked more like a small cathedral sanctuary to me! It was amazing to see all of our wedding party gathered in the same place for the first time ever… It really started to hit me, “Oh my goodness – these people are all here for our wedding. We’re getting married tomorrow!”
(The professional photos below are copyright by Kamirin Couch of Crooked Stream Photography. She was FABULOUS! I can’t recommend her highly enough! And you can click on the pictures below to view them larger.)
As you might notice, I was rather happy.. 😉
My mama and I wore matching dresses – not surprisingly, we color coordinated for the event.
I loved this dress pattern SO much! It has lots of gathers in the upper bodice, gathers in the back and sides of the skirt, and a straight panel down the front of the bodice that continues into the skirt. The fabric was a coral cotton sateen, so I’m fortunate it wasn’t too wrinkled in the photos!
Look at this! All three of us girls just happened to wear our hair in the exact same style… and we’re all brunettes! Talk about coordinating. 😀 Oh! And those shoes (I bought them here) had only been worn once before on an evening when Lars and I went out very early on in our relationship, so I thought I should wear them again as they matched my dress. They reminded me so much of vintage shoes ! <3
The late afternoon light was flooding through the stained glass windows and onto the stage. It was sort of as if God was smiling down on us.
Then, we were off from our gorgeous venue (a historic building which dates back the the 1800s), and onto the rehearsal dinner. I just had to fit in my fondness for the von Trapp story into my wedding festivities, so we ate at a German restaurant, feasting on schnitzel with noodles and crisp apple strudel… (you should probably go listen to “My Favorite Things” if those dishes don’t ring a bell.) 😉
And what should I find hanging on the wall of the restaurant, but early Edwardian fashion plates! 😀 <3 It was absolutely perfect! I felt like the entire evening had been custom made for my wedding. Soooo special!
Lars and I ran one last errand before he dropped me off at my house ~ we wanted to surprise our mothers by giving them flowers during the ceremony, so the two of us selected roses for the next day… I just hoped they wouldn’t wilt in the heat, but I knew it was a chance we’d have to take since the wedding day itself would be too busy.
Tomorrow, we’d have the biggest day of our lives.
I want to share one more sneak peak picture of the wedding!:
Here I was with my mama, just minutes before walking down the aisle. We were both in Victorian style outfits – just wait till you see her and my mother in law’s gowns! 😀
Of all the dresses a woman may sew in her lifetime, I believe her wedding dress is her most important and most anticipated project. There’s something so meaningful and almost heirloom-ish about making your own bridal gown, as you know that this piece of family history will be cherished for generations to come. I know this to be true since I have my great-great-grandmother’s 1913 lace wedding dress in my costume collection! (More on that later!) Each bride can create a work of art that is a true reflection of her style and personality, and her gown is something she will always remember.
As a long-time seamstress and pattern designer, I always assumed that I would make my dress just as soon as I got engaged. No problem, right? You sit down at your sewing desk and whip out a big pouffy ballgown! Right? Um, not quite… You see, I never figured into my single-girl equation that once I was engaged I would want to spend all my time with my fiance… But that’s exactly what happened! I have to admit that when planning my wedding and looking at all my to-do’s before my wedding day, I had so much to do that I actually considered buying a wedding dress instead. I really seriously considered it! I felt so overwhelmed with needing to do my gown perfectly at such a busy time in my life that I literally thought I couldn’t get it done in time. And for the first time ever, I felt like my creative energy was officially zapped. But I am SO grateful to my parents who really pushed me to sew it myself, and reminded me that I would always regret it if I didn’t sew my own gown. Boy, were they right! I’m also so thankful to my dear friend Jennie Chancey of Sense & Sensibility Patterns who encouraged me along the way, gave me moral support, and watched my progress via the pictures I sent her. (Thank you guys, if you’re reading this!) 😀 Every seam-ripped moment, every single time I had to draft yet another version of the bodice, and every time I stressed over the placement of the details were SO worth it!! Yes, it was the most challenging time in my life to sew the most important project of my life, but I wouldn’t trade the finished product for anything! I’m happy to say that I made my wedding dress myself, and someday I hope my own grandchildren might look at my gown the way I pore over my great-great-grandmother’s dress and think, “I wonder how she did that?”
My Wedding Gown Inspiration
I’ve always had a great fondness for ivory and gold together on ballgowns. I’ve always known that I’d want a Cinderella, princess sort of ballgown. Something big and pouffy, but not so oversized that I couldn’t dance in it… Something elegant and exquisite, but not so overtrimmed that I’d get lost in the gown. I wanted narrow cap sleeves with puffing or flowers on them, satin roses, chiffon ruffles, gold trim, and a cascading train. I had always envisioned delicate netting lace, ribbon embroidery, and stiff silk satin. Overall, I wanted the gown to be elaborately Victorian, but without any specific year in mind. As it turned out, I’d place my finished wedding gown between 1895-1905.
The Wedding Dress Sketch
This sketch I drew showed how I wanted a v-waist in front and back of the bodice, a sweetheart neckline, puffy cap sleeves, and lace at the hem. While the bodice did change slightly along the way, the overall gown is remarkably similar to my initial design!
For the main fabric of the gown, I chose a pearly silk duchess satin (peau de soie) in ivory, along with yards upon yards of English netting lace, chiffon, and embroidered organza lace for trim.
This material is the same kind with which Queen Elizabeth’s wedding gown and state evening gowns were sewn in the late 1940s and early 1950s.
A silk chiffon ruffle for the neckline…
A very bare, undecorated silk bodice before the sleeves were sewn on.
Gathering the lace trim for the neckline…
Here is the bodice looking *much* better after the ivory lace, ivory ruffle, and gold lace were attached. It’s starting to look Victorian!
The bodice had ruched and elasticized cap sleeves to allow my arms to move while dancing… My husband and I planned to dance “The Laendler” at our wedding, so it was crucial that the sleeves not rip out or restrict movement.
So much detail! I loved this bodice so much…
And I added a gold lace ruffle to the back of the neckline for an even more Victorian look.
With the bodice finished, I now turned my attention to the skirt. It is worth noting that I’d drafted the bodice entirely by hand, after many practice versions until I got it just how I wanted it. For the skirt, I modified an old wedding dress pattern I had quite a bit. In the end, I altered it greatly, but it did at least serve as a guide to go off of at first.
I LOVED the shimmery threads of embroidery on the ivory organza lace! Very regal, I thought.
Using nearly 15 yards of delicate English netting lace, I gathered, ruffled, and applied the lace trim to the slightly rounded edge of my train… It turned out to be sheer Edwardian frilliness! I was so happy!
The skirt, now constructed, looked very gorgeous and delicately light, but I knew it was not finished yet.
I added a two inch frilled ruffle of chiffon to the hem, and covered that with the same gold lace that I’d trimmed the neckline with. It was stunning!
On the day that I finished the skirt, it was around 1 in the morning, and my mother had kindly been hanging out in my sewing room for hours to keep me awake while I tried to finish the dress that evening. She snapped this photo of that point in the gown construction where you have so much fabric it’s hard to maneuver it through the machine at all!
And then, finally, it was done! It had been close to six weeks of sewing, not including the few weeks before that I spent drafting the pattern. I wrapped up the gown construction less than three weeks prior to the wedding, and I was so happy with the end result! 😀
When I tried on the finished gown for the first time, I gasped at how full the skirt was. “It looks like a Cinderella gown!” I said. While I couldn’t wear a hoopskirt for dancing reasons, I did wear a full petticoat that added a fair amount of “pouff” to the silhouette, and made me wonder how I was going to pull off dancing “The Laendler” (from The Sound of Music). But nevertheless, my gown was ready for the wedding and I couldn’t have been more thrilled! It was a Victorian evening gown, 1950s ball gown, and royal wedding dress all wrapped into one. <3
And since I already got married, I just have to share a few sneak peek pictures with you!
Here I was with the most special gown I’ve ever sewn, right before hair and makeup in the bridal prep room. <3 The shiny stiff silk satin, yards of ruffles, and delicate lace overlay made me feel like I was wearing an antique gown.
But my wedding gown won’t be the only one in the wedding photos! You see, I asked my mother and mother-in-law for permission to display their wedding dresses at my reception along with my great-grandmother’s gown from 1913! I am thrilled that I got to “curate” a miniature gown collection for the occasion ~ after studying in so many amazing costume museums in England, I just had to incorporate that part of my “favorite things” into the wedding day! <3
Lots more to come soon!! I’ll be sharing the entire timeline of the day, plus the rehearsal and reception.
Katrina (The new Mrs. Holte!) <3
P.S. Please do not use these pictures on any other websites as they are copyrighted. You may share them to Pinterest as long as you link back to this page, but otherwise they cannot be reproduced. Thank you!