Are you feeling smart?  Create your own wedding day look

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Written by Alix Strauss

In 1992, Jane Daly was looking for an empowerment project to undertake. At the same time, she was also preparing for her wedding.

She found a way to do both by designing and sewing her wedding dress. “No one made their own gown back then, but I wanted to prove to myself that I could do it,” said Daly, a 58-year-old patient care coordinator at Professional Physical Therapy in River Edge, New Jersey, who has married William. Daly, also 58, on May 9, 1992, at St. Peter Apostle Church, also in River Edge.

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For four months, she worked nights at her parents’ dining room table making a dress from scratch using four different sewing patterns. The result was a fitted dress in silk taffeta with a sequence of hand-sewn beading and lace.

“Blood, sweat and tears helped create this,” Daly said. “I wanted it to be special. It was. I am always proud to have done it. I still have the dress.

Making your own wedding attire is no longer an accepted alternative for many bride and groom these days. Those who can’t find what they’re specifically looking for, or who may be on a tight budget, take scissors, fabrics, and sewing machines into their amateur hands.

“A lot more people are interested in tailoring their wedding outfits now than 10 years ago,” said Jennifer Wiese, 38, owner of Workroom Social, a sewing studio in New York’s Brooklyn neighborhood. . In January, she posted the first of nine 20- to 30-minute videos on YouTube titled “I Made My Wedding Outfit”.

“I interview people who share their experiences and how making their wedding attire changed the day for them,” Wiese said. In the past two years, she has helped over 30 people design and build their wedding outfits. (She made her own wedding dress in 2012.) “People want more ownership and control over the things they put on their bodies,” she said. “Making your own clothes puts you in control of the process and how you present yourself to the outside world. This is not always possible when you buy something ready-made.

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The challenge, no matter what your sewing skills, is part of the allure.

“Everyone told me I was crazy making my own dress,” said Sicily Bennett, 45, an integrative health and wellness coach who lives in New Canaan, Connecticut, with her husband, Jason. Bennett, 48 years old. “My husband thought it was a terrible idea. It made me want to do it even more.”

Hoping to prove her fiancé wrong, she hid the fabric and the sewing machine deep in her closet. Bennett worked on the dress in secret while he was at work.

The process of creating what was supposed to be a simple backless silk pattern for their wedding on September 24, 2016 in Manhattan, however, was more difficult than she expected, and so she ended up crafting her dress twice.

“About a week before my wedding, I took my dress and my sewing machine to a friend’s house and sewed most of the night,” she said. “I was still sewing the dress right before the wedding, but I was determined. Carrying this huge accomplishment made the whole experience worth it.

The same was true of her husband’s face when she shared the big reveal. “We were standing in the yard, and just before we got married, I whispered in his ear that I had made the dress – he was floored,” she said.

Minimal options and resources have prompted others to turn to the DIY model, especially men.

“I am Latino and LGBTQ. I wanted a great reporting option, but couldn’t find one, ”said Kevin Milian, 28, associate director of consumer research solutions at Dentsu, a Japanese media and advertising agency. “We’re just redefining men’s fashion. It’s frustrating to run out of options. I’ve been looking for two years and haven’t found anything that makes me creative and extravagant. Having something made to measure was expensive and a lot of tailors weren’t interested in doing what I wanted. We also didn’t want to be two gay men in matching costumes.

Milian, who lives with her fiance, Nicholas Falba, 29, on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, decided to wear an ivory Hugo Boss suit as a staple. Some of the highlights he created included a removable ivory chiffon cape, accented with embroidery from Italy, and a family crest brooch he designed and created by a Russian woman he met via Etsy. The couple plan to tie the knot on November 6 at Lake Front Airport in New Orleans.

“I wanted my vision to come forward and be just as festive with or without the support of suppliers,” he said. “Cole Porter wore a jacket with a train and that was an inspiration. It was very odd and straddling the line between male and female. That’s what I wanted. My guests will know that it is. is a statement and that was my design.

wedding look An image provided shows Jane Daly on her wedding day, May 9, 1992. Daly wore a fitted silk taffeta dress with a hand-sewn beading and lace sequence that took her four months. (Dolin Studio via The New York Times)

Others took the self-imposed challenge as a way to test their abilities. Anne Zheng, 34, a merchandise planner for 7 For All Mankind, a high-end denim company, bought two dresses during a trip to China in 2019 that she initially loved. She was much less in love when she returned to her New York home in Forest Hills, Queens. “I don’t know what I was thinking when I bought them,” she said. “I thought I could do better. “

Like many, Zheng started his project during COVID-19. “The pandemic gave me a lot of time to think about how I was going to do this,” she said. “I bought a dummy and a new boning, then took the dresses apart and combined them.”

The straps of a dress have been removed. A plunging V-neckline has become a sweetheart neckline. An existing train was recycled and used as the main body. A zipper replaced a corset in the back.

“It’s not over, and my fiance hasn’t seen it yet – I’m working on it in the bedroom – but I already have that ‘I created this’ feeling,” she said. Zheng and Ken Liu, 34, plan to tie the knot on October 9 at Chateau Briand in Westbury, New York. “There is pride and the right to brag. Ken said he hoped the roof would stay in place as I walked down the aisle. Me too.”

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.

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