If you are catching up on the saga of my wedding dress, Part I describes the journey to choosing the dress and the fabric, and Part II continues with tales of sewing a wedding dress long-distance. Warning: this post will be highly photo-centric. All photos in this blog entry are courtesy Margaret Belanger Photagraphy.

We chose an evening wedding, which made preparations the day of the wedding quite relaxed (for me, anyways; I can’t speak for anyone else). Some day I might talk about what we each did that morning, but for now I’ll say that my brother, Jon, stayed in Lloyd’s hotel room Friday night, because something came up with Lloyd’s best man and a certain dress took over Jon’s room. Mom and Dad picked up my dress from the seamstress on Friday, before the rehearsal dinner, and took Jon’s room at the hotel, so they could lay it out on the king-sized bed. Our photographer, Meg, also brought a second shooter, Kristen, with her for the day. Kristen went to the hotel to be with the guys while they got ready, but first, she stopped to take a few photos of the dress.

You may be starting to see some of the customized embellishments Mama did specifically for me; I will point them out in a moment.The dress I had tried on and loved had buttons and crystals down the back of the dress, which was one of my favorite features. I’m not a frilly sort of girl; I didn’t want a lot of lace and beading all over the dress. I wanted just a few embellishments that would really be noticed, letting the stunning dupioni silk to be the focus.

At 3:30 p.m., we started to arrive at Asa Waters Mansion. Mom and Dad brought the dress–at that point, otherwise known as “precious cargo.”

The next hour, or so, I sat in the bride’s room kind of twiddling my thumbs, which was the absolute weirdest feeling. After all the running around of the past six months, my pre-wedding list was complete. Everyone else ran around getting things ready, and I sat there thinking, “I guess I should have brought a book.” The difficulty of sitting and waiting increases significantly when you’re waiting for something like your groom to arrive and your wedding to begin. I remember being excited to go to Disney World. This felt very different. Meg took some photos of the dresses while we waited.

Let me introduce you to some of Mama’s customizations. First, we have the buttons, which we discussed earlier. The wedding colors were purple and red–more specifically cranberry and plum. The buttons went down the entire back of the dress and train alternating between red and purple. Every once in a while, Mama would stitch a red or purple ladybug in place of the colored button, truly making it my dress.

You may notice another customization there near the buttons: our monogram. Mama has one of those really cool embroidery sewing machines. I sent her the digital file of our monogram, and digitized it for her needs, then embroidered several monograms that could be stitched onto the dress. In the end, we decided that they would look best right above where the dress would bustle. She carefully hand-stitched the monograms onto the dress, meticulously and precisely. Only Mama could have added such a perfect personal touch.

All of the customizations just made the dress for me. I dreamed of a dress, and this was just so much more. While the dress had many customizations, the bodice had been the foundation of the original design, and Mama didn’t let me down. I remember her describing pinning the folds of the ruching to the dress form, then having to take it off the dress form to stitch–over and over again. She even said that watching Project Runway came in handy a few times! I hope you all understand after reading this wedding dress journey just what an amazing seamstress Mama is. She really, truly is quite talented–meticulous, patient, and skillful. Apparently, though, my wedding dress was the most challenging thing she has ever made. Go me? My wedding dress defines labor of love. I think I will contact Oxford and ask them to put a picture of my dress next to that definition.

Eventually, I got to actually wear the dress! Mama and my girls helped me step into the work of art.

See that last little detail? Ladybug Girl needs a little red tulle peaking out the bottom of her dress when she steps up or dances. It’s a rule. (Some day I might tell the story of the shoes.) Also, the dress had pockets. I can’t find one photo that shows my hands in the pockets, but trust me that they existed and were invaluable! I didn’t need no stinkin’ clutch! (That is one project that didn’t get done.) I just put my hanky, inhaler, and lipstick right in my pocket. I was good for the night!

Time to go see Lloyd! When looking through the 800! photographs from Meg, I couldn’t help but burst out laughing at these photos. To anyone who doesn’t know the story of the dress, it looks like he’s checking out my underskirt and tush. In fact, I’m showing off details of the dress.

After the ceremony we bustled the dress. Ashley and Mom met me right outside, while we waited for my extended family to gather for a large group photo, and they got all up in my business to bustle the dress. Ashely recommended a ribbon bustle. She reported that it is the one bustle that actually seams to hold. So, underneath my dress were five sets of blue ribbons (my something blue) that were matched and tied. I will report to you that it held amazingly well, and it was pretty (because isn’t that what it’s all about in the end!).

So, in conclusion, who has the best Mama? This girl.