20th Century, What I wear

My wedding dress: the design

I wish I had waited another three years before I got married.  Not because I didn’t want to get married when I did, but because the choices and inspiration for wedding dresses would have been so much better.

Every single dress I saw was either 1) a boring strapless A-line princess dress, or 2) a stunning, but completely age and temperament inappropriate, slinky, backless, cleavage plunging temptress frock or 3) something with a corset bodice and a mildly interesting skirt, visually acceptable but climate unsuitable.

So I decided that despite writing a thesis, preparing to immigrate to New Zealand, planning a wedding, moving from the Bay Area to New York to Hawaii to New Zealand within the space of 6 months, and working almost full time through all of it, I decided there was no cure for it, I was going to have to make my own dress.

Three things had a huge influence on the design of my wedding dress.

1) A good friend told me “It’s hard to dance with 9 pounds of tulle attached to your bottom half.”

2) I got given a number of vintage 1930s patterns, and

3) I spent waaaaaaaay too much time at the Chanel exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC.

So the design I came up with was very simple, very 1930s, and more Chanel than was good for me.

My design sketch

I based it off this early 1930s pattern:

My mum saw it and said “It looks like a pencil”

Thanks Mum.

Good thing the only advice I won’t take from you is fashion advice.

Anyway, I’m pretty sure I didn’t look like a pencil in my dress

Immediately after the wedding, I regretted the simplicity of the pattern.  I wished I had gone for something bigger, more spectacular, and something with more of a train.

With the wisdom of a few years of retrospect, I love my dress.  I’ll have plenty of other excuses to wear uncomfortable, spectacular frocks, your wedding is one day when you should be comfortable.


  1. So very correct, wearing comfortable dress on your wedding. I should keep that in mind when I make mine, if I do (because I’m just as crazy and picky as you in this aspect, and I do not mean that in a bad way).
    Your wedding dress was very beautiful, and don’t let your mum say it looks like a pencil. A pencil is made of wood and graphite. This is most certainly not.

  2. It’s really a great dress! So comfortable and carefree 🙂

    I’m thinking about making my own wedding dress too!!! My wedding will be 1 1/2-2 1/2 years and I wanted to have it very similar to an Anne Barge gown, I’m just not sure how to accomplish the pleating.

    Great Post!

  3. MrsC says

    Gorgeous of course. And you are SO right, I always tell brides to put comfort up there, and also to ensure their dress allows them to move how they want to move on the day. Off the shoulder dresses and hugging lots of people are not compatible! Mine was sooo comfortable and warm and snuggly for a freezing early spring day down south. Yours is perfect for a relaxed, hot day in Hawaii! 🙂

  4. Katharine says

    Your dress is beautiful! It looks fabulous on you. The piecing on the skirt is absolutely lovely, do you have any idea where I might be able to get hold of a pattern like this? I’m looking to make a ball dress. thanks!

  5. Carla says

    I think your wedding dress is astonishing! besides you want the attention in you and not on the dress. Simple is better. Wish I had your dress for my wedding I simply love it!

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