To buy or not to buy? That was the question… but my petite figure made the answer pretty simple. If I bought a readymade dress, there would be the added hassle of having to alter it here, pull it in there and cut the length. Then there was the risk that the entire beauty of the dress would be trimmed away by some faceless seamstress in the USA only to arrive back in South Africa a week before my big day. A BIG no no.
I was torn between bowing to the price tag of a renowned Sandton-based designer who churns out gowns for beauty queens or trusting someone a little less known. My reflexologist, Megs, insisted that I visit Arwen, a young designer friend of hers based in Parkhurst who specialises in corsetry, and this skill made her the clear winner. What more could a bride ask for? Here was my opportunity to flaunt a bespoke dress that would contour every curve!
Bi-monthly visits for almost eight months meant that I got to choose every detail of my dream dress and give my approval as it progressed. To avoid confusing my brain, Arwen quickly established the perfect design to suit my hour-glass shape and forced me to choose an exquisite imported lace from only three samples. Being Muslim, I knew that a long-sleeved, figure-flattering lace gown would be the only way to achieve “sultry” and “modesty”, and keep my critical aunts’ mouths shut. Besides, I really think half-naked dresses rob a bride of so much bright, beautiful, angelic whiteness…
They say every bride has a funny (but not-so-funny on the day) story to tell, and mine involves the dress, a needle and dental floss. Yup, I had to be sewn up with floss – a life-saving piece of pre-wedding advice from Arwen which I didn’t think I’d need. The dress has two zips; a heavy-duty one which closes up the inner corset and an outer zip which gathers the lace overlay. My friend (and talented make-up artist), Sharona, was helping me slip into my gown so I could capture a few incredible photos before my groom and guests arrived. That’s when disaster struck. The inner zip went up without a hitch but a damaged tooth on the outer zip prevented it from inching beyond a certain point.
Sharona attempted a candle wax trick which she reckoned would help the zip slide shut but with no success. I whipped out the needle and dental floss as per Arwen’s instruction and Sharona stitched me up. During the brief photoshoot downstairs, I kept tripping over my gown’s scalloped lace edge so I had no other choice but to summon Arwen to the venue.
Arwen arrived at the door of my luxury Baobab Suite at The Munro Boutique Hotel quicker than emergency services respond to a crime scene. She was down on her knees snipping away and then quickly twisted the countless round crystal buttons down my spine through their loops when after all this effort, I realised that I needed to wee… And relieving myself meant undoing all the buttons, cutting the floss stitches and doing it all over again… Eek!
That 2:30pm toilet break would be my last for the entire day! Luckily, adrenaline kicked in and a single cup of masala tea was my only sustenance for the next seven hours. I survived until midnight when my new hubby jokingly tore through the dental floss stitches with his teeth!
Here are a few photos of my show-stopping wedding gown with all its lovely ‘falling petal’ detail and illuminating aurora borealis crystals. Now that all the wedding and honeymoon excitement is over and life has pretty much returned to normal, the dress is back in Arwen’s creative hands for a bit of TLC. In the meantime, I’m trying to decide whether the lace needs to be dyed a soothing duck egg shade or deep Bordeaux wine so I can get more wear out of it in future. But before we make any drastic changes, I do think a bridal competition or two is on the cards… This work of art does deserve national adoration, don’t you agree??
To book an appointment with Arwen, call 011 447 0247 or email firstname.lastname@example.org