For me, my journey began as quite the contrary. I was overwhelmed by the decisions that have to be made when planning a wedding. It was also no help that I hadn’t previously considered what I wanted to wear, for what everyone reminded me “is the biggest day of your life”. No pressure right?
I had quotes and contracts a plenty for vendors and venues but the one thing I knew about my dress was that I wanted it to be easy. After seeing a dress I gravitated to on the SANT ELIA Instagram page, I booked a consultation with Stephanie, confident it would be the one. And just in case it wasn’t, even though I was absolutely sure it was, I had a few other appointments with bridal stores to ensure I secured the one that day and I would strike off “find a dress” on what was quickly becoming the never ending to-do list of wedding planning. Because you know, for someone who needs three days to decide their entree from an alternate set menu, finding a wedding dress in a single day was the best way to manage expectations.
After many “ooh’s” and “aaah’s” and “oh my god that is it” from my mum and Maid of Honour, imagine my disappointment when I, in fact, did not find the one that day. I would like to say that I stayed cool, calm and collected, but I became frustrated at the process, with a sprinkle of impatience and parked the search whilst I ticked off some of the easier items on my list.
A few weeks down the track, a jumpsuit that was available as part of the SANT ELIA annual sample sale caught my eye. I added the item “find second bridal look” to my to-do list and quickly striked it off, entirely smug, as I was able to secure it via an Insta DM with the brand. I arranged a time with Stephanie to collect the jumpsuit that afternoon and left work early to claim my sample sale prize.
On my way to the studio my mind started ticking as I went over the last few major items on my list, namely “find my actual dress” and thought, perhaps another chat with Stephanie wouldn’t hurt my very cloudy and undefined bridal vision.
As we conversed about the weather, the overall vibe for my wedding and fashion pieces I wore every day, Stephanie started to draw what I thought was doodling from the boredom of my rambling. Eventually she turned to me and said “I know you are uncertain of what you actually want, but from what I have learnt about you, the vision for your wedding and every day style, I think you would look incredible in this design” holding my bespoke design sketch.
That was it. The moment everyone talked about; that bridal moment, which to that point I was skeptical of, happened. I fell in love at first glance - a dress that I connected with, I could see myself wearing and that would be made just for me.
From that point forward I decided to stop thinking about how I could buy my dress and take it home with me that day, instead trusting the creative and collaborative process of creating a bespoke bridal gown. I hadn’t previously considered a bespoke gown because, to me, it didn’t fall into that category of easy.
Reflecting on the process now I am amused at my own preconceived notion that a bespoke bridal gown would be anything less than easy. I can only speak of my experience with SANT ELIA but the opportunity to create a gown in collaboration with a studio is the highest form of ease there is.
Each fitting acts as a checkpoint assessing how your designer and their team will progress your design from its current state. You have the opportunity to select fabrications and laces, not just because they are on trend and are aesthetically pleasing, but because they have been curated by your designer who considers the invaluable link between your design and who you are, not just as a bride but as a woman.
Along the way, I had questions and at times felt a sense of uncertainty of how my bespoke gown would look once finished. Throw in a pandemic followed by a twelve month postponement period and you have yourself a severely depleted sense of enthusiasm for almost anything which, for me, evolved into some serious doubt about my gowns lace.
In these instances, I found it best to remain transparent with Stephanie who of course dispelled any doubts and instilled my confidence and trust in the couture process - she guided me through a time of uncertainty with grace and poise which in the end, resulted in the purest form of magic.
Stephanie and I took the added time to create my gown very seriously - so seriously in fact, we decided it would be an opportune time for me to join the team as Brand Manager. Between client appointments and marketing meetings, we found ourselves fine tuning my bridal look, conceptualising accessories inspired by old world glamour brides. One day I turned to Stephanie and said, I have an idea - she turned to me and said you are going to say you want an intricate veil, I already have a pinterest board for you. I like to think I know Stephanie pretty well, but her ability to read a bride's subconscious mind never ceases to amaze me.
At my final fitting, Stephanie was helping me into my gown and as we usually did, giggled at my laughable attempt at staying cool and not letting my nerves get the best of me. I had some of my family and bridal party eagerly waiting for me to show them the one, which till now, both I and they hadn’t seen finished.
I walked out of the change room with my gown to a few more sets of eyes than what I usually feel comfortable around. I saw myself, for the first time, as a bride, wearing the one. It was then I realised that finding the one may not be easy but neither is creating pure magic.
I can't help but share a piece of this magic with you and hope you enjoy my visual diary from the day.
SANT ELIA Muse & Brand Manager
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