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War and Weddingwear πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡¦

Helping brides whose wedding dresses were being made in Ukraine, AND their Ukranian dressmakers.

While Putin’s troops attacked Ukraine this week, two british brides contacted me. Both had ordered wedding dresses that were being made in Ukraine. Now this can no longer happen, they asked if I could make them instead.

I could have rubbed my hands with glee and snapped up the extra orders. But I shouldn’t profit from a loss of business from someone potentially losing everything, just because they happen to have had their country invaded this week, and I haven’t.

So I *think* I have figured out a way to help both the brides and their original dressmakers in Ukraine. I will make what they had ordered, for the same price. Then, after hard costs (fabric etc), I would donate the rest of the price to the ukranian dressmaker (if it was a small, independent operation like mine) or to the Disasters Emergency Committee (if it was a factory contracted by an international brand).

The first bride has just agreed and we tracked down her original, ukranian dressmaker on Etsy. Her name is Vera. She leads a small team and, her shop’s announcement tells us, is currently living in an underground shelter with her family.

Part of Vera’s heartbreaking Etsy shop announcement, which can be read in full here

As a stroke of genius, Vera created digital, downloadable postcards so people can donate directly. So I did.

I’d been wondering how the hell I could offer practical support in a war zone from the UK, with my skill set limited to making wedding dresses and writing the odd blog. I know what I’m doing* is a drop in the roaring ocean but it’s something. I hope.

πŸ’›πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡¦πŸ’™

If you or someone you know is in the same position as my two brides, please get in touch and I will help if I can.

To my fellow wedding industry pros, if you’re able to help by doing something similar, let’s work together.

*For what it’s worth, I have also donated to the DEC and encourage those who are willing and able to do the same.

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Is the make-up-free Miss GB contestant empowering women and girls? What about brides?

One of the top ten most read BBC News stories this morning concerns Elle Seline, a contestant in Miss GB, who plans to appear without make-up at this year’s competition. Ms Seline, who was bullied about her appearance in her teens (as I was), says she is doing this to challenge patriarchal standards of beauty and to empower other women and girls.

But does it? And why does it have anything to do with me, or weddings?

What I find more interesting than the story itself is that a woman choosing not to wear make-up on a particular day is such big news. I often don’t wear make up; when I’m working, I usually end up inside wedding dresses between layers and don’t want to leave marks. Sometimes I just don’t want to wear it. Hardly hold-the-front-page stuff though, right?

The difference is of course the context, i.e. an event at which a woman would be expected to wear make-up. Weddings, specifically being The Bride, are another example. So here’s the relevance to us.

Some brides (like me, a natural extrovert) relish the attention on their wedding days while they, as tradition dictates, look their best. But this pressure to look “your best”, what your best self actually looks like, AND being the centre of attention makes many – maybe most, in my experience – feel very vulnerable. Judged. Absolutely bloody terrified.

So I believe Ms Seline’s message for brides is empowering: (with apologies to my make-up artist friends), you can go without make-up when you’re expected to wear it and still be beautiful. Your best self. Stick THAT to the patriarchy.

However, let’s not get carried too far away from the feminist track. Ms Seline is taking control of her own narrative to stick one to her former bullies, yes. However, entering a competition that judges and ranks women on their appearance, whatever standard employed, is a massive self own in this narrative. It says: how women look is still the best way to judge us.

You don’t defeat bullies who think you’re ugly by changing their minds into thinking you’re beautiful; you slay them by demonstrably not giving a shit what they think of your appearance. And that can’t include entering a competition to be judged on just that. So her message is NOT empowering for women and girls generally.

For brides, wear the make-up, don’t wear the make-up. Just know you are giving your best self to the person you love the most, whatever that looks like.

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Pretty, not plastic

Lockdown has meant that I’ve been mailing a lot of orders and it was starting to bother me how much plastic packaging I was getting through. I’ve now made the switch to compostable mail bags (they’re still waterproof and protective for all the precious pretty things).

I always welcome a reason to feel smug. πŸ˜„

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Weddings can resume but wedding dress fittings can’t πŸ€¦β€β™€οΈ

Weddings in the UK are officially back ON, from 8 March with maximum six people. Hurrah for my bride planning to elope with her intended!

Unfortunately, I can’t reopen for in-person appointments – including fittings – until 12 April. So how’s she supposed to get her dress altered.

She even suggested doing her fitting outdoors, hoping we’d be within the rules when two people can meet outdoors for food or drinks. Sadly not the case and besides, my two children will be back at school and exposed to 180 people daily by then so I’m not as isolated as I could be. It’s just not worth the risk.

But we’ve struck upon a solution. We’ll do her fitting via videocall, with me guiding her mum (whom she lives with) on where to stick the pins and which bits to measure. Then we can exchange the dress contact-free and I’ll alter it for her.

Adapt, adapt, adapt.

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I Get Tickled by a Troll

I have MADE IT. Two very exciting, seminal, touchstone moments happened yesterday, both sparked by my moon-phase veil (This Is Not A Phase, pictured):
1. I received my first order through my brand new online shop;
2. I encountered my first troll.

This Is Not A Phase moon veil by Holly Winter Couture in ivory and silver Chapel length
Trip-trap, trip trap, over the bridge 🐐

This veil has received a lot of love, for which I am very grateful. But one person’s love for it quickly descended into something else. This is the message I received, in full:

I KNOW you shouldn’t feed the trolls. But I had obviously made someone very angry so I compulsively sent her a little love:

Now I know WHY you shouldn’t feed the trolls; I received this:

Troll

And this:

Do not feed the trolls

Continuing in a new screengrab:

Troll

And another:

Troll

Thank you for making it this far. I admit that this subsequent essay rattled me. I have mentally drafted several responses and justifications for how I set my prices and they all involve fundamental economics, detailed accountancy, my latest tax return and a spreadsheet so I will spare you all of them. You’re welcome.

Instead, while anyone involved in planning a wedding (actually, anyone generally) is having a tough time riding out the pandemic, I will take a small measure of success wherever I find it. πŸ‘ΉπŸ’•

Edited to add, for the record, payment methods I accept are cash, credit/debit cards, bank transfer, PayPal and, if you really have to, cheque, but not severed limbs (they stain my lovely fabrics) and DEFINITELY not babies.