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DIY Portland Wedding

Being an avid sewer and dressmaker, it was a no brainer that the bride Suzannah would make her own wedding dress, as well as her bridesmaids’ dresses. Her vintage-inspired gown, a drool-worthy gray tulle tea length number is off the charts amazing. Thank you Becky Studio 623 Photography for the images!

diy tulle vintage inspired wedding dress

From Suzannah: I always imagined I’d have a DIY wedding. I do everything myself by nature, and love the power I feel from taking things into my own hands and doing my own home décor, minor upholstery, jeans-mending, trendy dress-making. From before we were even engaged (and before DIY weddings were cool, I swear ;) !) I’ve imagined I would do just about everything for the wedding myself. I love making food for large groups so figured I could even do the catering, and make the cake! And of course I’d make my dress and the bridesmaid dresses, and everything else would be vintage! But once the ring was on my affair was. For more than 100 guests, many from out of town, we needed a big place with amenities like a hotel and a real bar, and from going to more friends’ weddings in the time before ours I realized no, I would not have time to instruct the AV guys exactly where the mic should go, or set up the cake table. I would be in pictures and getting dressed and maybe freaking out a little. I know some brides do it ALL, but for me I found I needed to stick to what I knew.

We had almost two years to plan the wedding, and picked the location about 18 months before. When I had done my research I realized how much easier it would be if we went with a place that made the food for you, and used their own catering services so you didn’t have to check out tons of food vendors. Another huge plus of any McMenamins location (a great local chain around the Northwest) is that the room rental fee is waived if you hit a food and beverage minimum. Um, no rental fee, just pay for food? Yes, please!

gray vintage wedding dress
gray vintage wedding dress

As for the attire… as someone who sews and loves clothes, and weddings!, this was probably the most exciting part for me. I designed and made my wedding dress, but it was an… uh… organic process, and I didn’t know what it would look like until it was almost done! But I did know what the bridesmaid dresses would be like pretty early on. I thought about purple or yellow originally, but decided on a classy pale grey, with purple shoes and cardis! I’ve always loved J.Crew weddings, with the simple but beautiful silk or cotton dresses in all the colors, but I also wanted a vintage vibe, so the dresses are a relatively crisp stretch cotton blend with pleated, full skirts. I let all the bridesmaids choose the bodices for their dresses, and they each got something different, and it was so fun to make custom clothing for all my friends! And they loved it. As a sewist, it’s always a good learning experience to make clothes for someone else. They all turned out really cute! And I found the perfect (literally perfect!) purple cardigans at Nordstrom Rack for $16.97 each a few months before the wedding, so the girls has purple accents with the cute crewneck button-up look like I had been hoping for. And the weather on the day of was so perfect, not too hot, so they actually wore them as the evening went on! Oh—and, as a last-minute decision, I decided they should all wear some sort of pearl jewelry. Necklaces and/or earrings, whatever shape, but all ivory pearls. A few of us had multiples and lent them out—some of my friends haven’t ever worn them and made some June Cleaver references. But I think they looked great!

gray wedding dress tulle skirt
gray vintage wedding dress

I wore pearls, too, and tried to do a pretty classic 50’s look brought into a modern shabby chic romantic look. I love birdcage veils, so I made myself one with some netting and buckram and a silk flower I made, too. My makeup was pretty classic and while I debated red lips I decided they didn’t go with my dress, so I did pink and am glad I did Not as retro, but still quite appropriate. I got my dream shoes (I’ve loved this style by Nina for ages), and took of their bows and added silk poufs shoe clips that I made. I always wanted colorful wedding shoes but in the end, these ivory ones worked a lot better.

diy portland wedding

Oh, the dress, too of course. It was grey. And pale pink, peach, and ivory. I like to be a little different, I guess, so I wasn’t ever sure about wearing a white dress, although I did want to look wedding-ey. I love grey, and it’s pale enough that in the right shape it still looks pretty bridal. The dress design process was lots of fun and I used a lot of online inspirations but didn’t ever find the perfect dress if I had wanted to buy one, anyway. I’ve always wanted to make my dress, so I’m so glad I was able to! My mom helped out with some fitting issues, since she’s the pro dressmaker with years of experience, but she didn’t really understand what I wanted until it was done. Making the dress itself didn’t take long at all (it’s a very simple bodice pattern with a gathered overskirt over a circle skirt), but making all the self-fabric flowers (by hand) did. I watched a lot of movies while cutting out and sewing together all those little petals.

gray vintage wedding dress
gray vintage wedding dress

View all images from this wedding in the gallery

A week or so before the wedding, when most of the DIY projects were done and the house was sprinkled with “stuff to bring on Saturday,” this excited anxiousness came over me. I don’t have a problem being the center of attention, let’s say, so I wasn’t worried about all the people. I was honestly just so excited to see all our hard work come together, to see the garden all decorated, to see my friends and future sisters in their bridesmaid dresses, to kiss my husband and dance the night away! I always thought I would feel stressed in the days leading up to the wedding, but I really didn’t feel stressed as much as I did just excited for the day to come and go so I could sit back and look at the pictures! And, thanks to Becky, who turned our pictures around SO fast!, I was able to do that not too long after.

We took a few weeks between the wedding and honeymoon (Hawaii, wahoo!) and enjoyed being newly married. Our wedding was so much fun, and so far being married ROCKS! Sure, little things went wrong, but overall, OMG, getting married is awesome. I hope everyone gets to have as much fun as we did!

Wedding Vendors (Portland, OR):

Venue: McMenamins Edgefield Administrator’s House / Photography: Studio 623 Photography / Makeup/Hair: DIY, bride and maid of honor / Donuts: Voodoo Donut / Flowers: DIY, bride and bride’s mother / Officiant: Bride’s father / Wedding Shoes: Nina / Dress: Designed and made by bride / Bridesmaids’ dresses: Designed by bridesmaids and bride, made by bride / Groom’s suit: Claiborne / Stationery: VistaPrint

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