We are so excited to launch a series of questionnaires from our real brides here at Ette! One of our all-time favorite ladies who had her gown altered with us last year while we were under the Mignonette label is Cate--a creative, thoughtful woman with a smile that just lights up the room! We love the advice she gives and love an excuse to show off more of her beautiful photos from Mindy Joy Photography!
1. Tell us a bit about your wedding! Venue, vibe, how many people?
Andrew and I got married on November 4, 2017. We chose a more intimate venue with a smaller reception. We wanted to feel the presence of all our guests and really enjoy all the moments without feeling the pressure of a large wedding. We chose the Mansion Hill Inn for our reception and The Gates of Heaven for the ceremony. Both were located in beautiful downtown Madison, WI. Because we chose a smaller venue we booked the mansion for the entire weekend. Our wedding festivities started the Friday before our wedding in which we invited our bridal party and parents to stay at the mansion with us. The mansion is filled with 10 incredible historic rooms each with its own unique features. Vintage charm is an understatement when describing the mansion. All bridal party members enjoyed their own rooms with a Sunday brunch following the wedding.
Our guest list included 60 close friends and family members. Our final count was about 50 people (including us and bridal party) at our reception. Both of us agreed on a more vintage vibe with romantic elements throughout the day. The ceremony site was a historic synagogue that belongs to the city of Madison. We had a brief ceremony officiated by someone very close to use; we exchanged our own written vows. The room was small and intimate with music that was special to us. Moments of chaos were not spared during the ceremony as life still happens, but it was our wedding day and so those moments were so insignificant compared to the big picture. There were candles and lanterns with beautiful vintage flower arrangements. There were tears filled with so much happiness. Our reception was immediately following the ceremony. Guests walked down the street to the Mansion Hill Inn where they were greeted with cocktails. We chose a formal cocktail party rather plated dinner, but no one left hungry! The food was so delicious and desserts were abundant. We enjoyed speeches from friends and real intimacy with our guests. The night ended with Andrew and I taking photos in the street in front of the capital downtown. It was an incredible evening.
2. What do you wish someone had told you when you first started planning the wedding?
I wish I knew how much work it really takes to plan a wedding! But to also slow down and enjoy the process rather feel pressured to choose elements you’re not ready to choose. Take your time. Explore all your options, but also listen to your gut and do what you want rather what you think everyone else will want. Be realistic about your budget and start checking out places early if you are wanting popular venues.
3. What was your best splurge/investment for the big day?
I would say my wedding gown! I went dress shopping with a certain number in mind and ended up doubling that. However, I do not regret it for one second! Our flowers and invitations were also a spurge. I love florals and knew from the start this was something I was willing to spend a bit more if needed. I am also a paper snob as stationary is a weakness of mine. I found beautiful custom invitations and did the lettering for each myself.
4. Tell us about your gown!
I love, love, love my gown. I initially wanted to find a gown with a straight silhouette and fitted bodice throughout. However, I saw my gown and fell in love after trying it on. It had such a romantic vibe, but also some vintage feel as it had a lace top with 3/4 sleeves. I bought my gown from Lovely Bride Chicago. It is a Leanne Marshall gown, named the “Lorelei” dress. The gown is ivory overall with a lace top and A-line, ivory silk organza skirt. It is one piece, but can appear as two. I purchased a rose gold rhinestone belt from Lovely Bride as well to wear with my gown. The bustle is just stunning and one of my favorite features!
5. What was the biggest surprise to you about the gown purchasing and alterations process?
As far as purchasing, I was amazed at how quickly I chose my gown. I only went shopping twice before I chose my dress. I was a bit shocked at how long the gown can take to come in and a bit nervous that I would not have it ready in time for my wedding day. I wasn’t too surprised at pricing as I was not naive when it came to designer gowns. Mine was actually a lot less then what some brides spend.
The alterations process was so much more simple then I imagined. I was happy that I did not need to come in as often as I thought I would. I was also amazed at the changes that can be made and the beauty that is created without losing the integrity of the gown. I was pleasantly surprised by the changes that were possible as I was so nervous when I received my gown back after initially purchasing it from Lovely Bride. The fit was off a bit, but it was also snugger then I thought it would be. Coming in for alternations changed my complete vision of my gown. I did not think I would love the alternations process, but I had more fun with that then I did purchasing. It was fun to come in and see the progress; I fell in love with my dress all over again. The women I worked with also made my confidence sky rocket as their work and vision was beautiful. Never once did I doubt that my gown would turn out amazing.
6. What was your favorite change we made to the gown?
I actually have two favorite changes- I loved that I did not need to wear a bra with my gown! It was such a blessing and major stress reliever to know I could have cups inserted in the top and still look amazing. I also loved that although the fabric and lace were cut on my top, the integrity of the dress was not lost. The shoulders were fitted perfectly and the bodice remained flattering. I felt beautiful in my gown and completely happy.
7. Any other tips for future brides?
In terms of gown shopping, be gentle and patient with yourself. Choose a dress you love and be willing to speak up if there is something you are uncertain about. Try more then one store, but if you find something you're in love with, don’t pass it up just because it’s the first time you’ve gone shopping! Also, it’s hard to not consider or listen to the opinions of others. However, this is your wedding day. All the details and elements are for you to remember, so choose what you and your partner want rather pleasing others.