2 In Celebrations

Wedding Wednesday No. 7: Designing the Dress and Filming Bride by Design

Wedding Photos by Mike Cassimatis

Ok, so our second wedding anniversary is in less than a week, and if I’m going to make good on my 30 before 30 goal of blogging our entire wedding before then, I had better get busy. That’s good, though, because it’s the end of February, and I’m in the mood to reminisce. So here we go!

Disclaimer: Please excuse the grainy cell phone photos on this one. These precious moments unfortunately cannot be reshot.

Finding the Dress

Spoiler alert: this is the base of the dress I customized, except that I changed the lace.

Mom and I with Heidi Elnora after we designed the dress!

When Mom and I set out to find THE dress, we had an extensive number of stores to hit across the South starting in Nashville, with stops in Huntsville, Birmingham, and Atlanta. It was obviously my favorite shopping trip ever, but I was surprised that it wasn’t exactly what I thought. I liked so many dresses, but each time I found one that I really liked, there was a long list of things I wanted to change about it. Can we make this skirt less full? Can we add a bow in the back? Can there be a different waistline? Is this the only lace it comes in? And on and on.

Enter Heidi. When we stepped into her atelier, we were not expecting Heidi herself to come out, but she did! We started with a “vision board” of what I was looking for, then we narrowed down a silhouette, and designed all the details together. I can’t tell you what a wonderful experience it was to get to dream up exactly what I had in mind with a designer who could make it happen. Heidi is also just the sweetest, spunkiest Southern lady you’d ever care to meet, and I really miss visiting her in Birmingham.

I loved so many dresses, but this “Bella Odette” silhouette was my favorite. I knew I wanted to make a lot of changes, but the base dress without the detailing was a great start! Once we settled on the rest of the details (and I changed a lot), Heidi drew an original sketch of my design, and it’s now in a frame in our room!

The Fittings

When the base of my dress finally came in, of course my car was in the shop, so my amazing friend Tricia saved the day and drove me down to Birmingham (with her baby in tow) for my first fitting. That’s a major friend, and I will never forget this act of valor. I loved getting the chance to visit Birmingham so often. It is a really fun city with lots of sweet spots to hang out in. Tricia and I went to lunch with our friend Meg who had moved there, and really, it was so much more than a wedding dress errand. 🙂

Filming Bride by Design

So this is where it gets interesting. Around the same time Heidi and I were designing my dress, her show, Bride by Design was being picked up by TLC for filming. It was a show about brides finding their dresses at her atelier, either through her Build-a-Bride line or custom designs like mine. When Heidi asked me to be on the show, I had to rearrange some scheduling snafus, but anything for Heidi! She is the best.

Obviously I could write a much longer post about filming a reality show, but in a nutshell, there is a lot of waiting, lots and lots of interview footage, and lots of lights and cameras for a very small percentage to actually be aired. The other thing I will say is that the stuff I always thought was real (like designing the dress) was re-enacted, and the stuff I assumed was staged (like seeing myself in my dress for the first time) was actually real! (Which you can tell, because I cried.)

My amazing friend Selena flew into Birmingham to be there for filming, and it would not have been half as fun without her. Plus, we don’t get to see each other enough (she lives in L.A.), so it was a wonderful reason to get to spend some time together and catch up!

We celebrated with burgers! You can find all the episodes, including mine, Episode 5, “Indecision Reigns,” here.

Final Fittings and The Final Product!

Real talk time, I obviously had to go back to Birmingham for a final fitting and to finish the veil (don’t believe everything you see on TV). The lace was Heidi’s “sparkle lace,” and the off-the-shoulder overlay was exactly what I wanted!

Of course, I had to try on the reception look (complete with this incredible headband from Liv Hart) at home!

These three photos by Mike Cassimatis

And ta-da! Here are the wedding-day spoilers of the final look. It was everything I hoped for (and that was a lot.)

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  • Oh, your beautiful dress!! I still remember when Emily showed me sneak peeks before your Southern Weddings feature 🙂 And how cool that you were part of Bride by Design–I didn’t know that! Heidi is such a gem. Now I want to go binge-watch the series!

  • Your dress is so incredibly gorgeous!!! I love reading the full story! And gah that overlay, such a beautiful and perfect idea.

    Erin, Attention to Darling