Oh boy. My wedding dresses. Where do I even begin? I already know this is gonna be a long post, so get ready everyone - it's going to be a novel.
Planning the wedding involved planning what to wear to six different events. That's right. Six. For almost a year, my life was split into recording my album and figuring out what the hell was I going to wear to all of these events - Henna Night, Akad ceremony, the private reception, the main reception, and Adam's reception (for Adam's side of the family). So let me take you on this journey - me and my six dresses.. and how I survived it all. Lol!
The first thing on my list was to get a lehenga for my henna night. I wanted a fun Bollywood henna night party before the wedding ceremony so I was determined to find a lehenga, the traditional indian dress with the coli and flared skirt. So I Googled lehengas in LA and found that the nearest lehenga stores were in this town called Artesia, which is like the Little India of LA. It was so cool, I loved it! I walked around Pioneer Blvd and went into several stores, and I've to say every one of them had something that I liked. Ultimately I went into a store called Frontier Heritage .. they had the most beautiful collection out of all the stores I went to. Most stores carried the traditional bridal lehengas, I wanted something more modern, and different and this store had amazing choices. I knew exactly what I wanted, a blush pink lehenga with gold embroideries. I told the shop assistant what I wanted, and came back with this beautiful blush lehenga with intricate gold floral embroidery, with bright pink details. I saw it and just fell in love with it! I found my very first lehenga, my Aishwarya Rai dream was coming true.. I was so excited! Henna night dress : Checked!
The Akad Dress
My wedding dress was a different story. For months I was pinning images on my Pinterest I think it was getting pretty stressful and overwhelming I had to stop pinning for a little bit.. it was too much!
On my engagement day, it is customary for Adam to give me fabric for the wedding ceremony. It was this beautiful modern lace, sparkly and very pretty. From far it looked like glittery mermaid scales or something, and I'm down to look like a mermaid. I thought that would be perfect for a a classic mermaid cut skirt. So now all I need to do is to find a pretty beaded lace for the top. I went to Mood Fabric in LA, and thinking well I probably won't find anything within my budget here, but let's look anyway. I went and found that all the beautiful beaded fabric there were way cheaper than the ones that I saw in some of the biggest fabric stores in Malaysia.
One fabric stood out to me, it was this beautiful beaded lace, 3D flowers, pearls, and diamantes.. I think I went back to Mood 2-3 times because I couldn't stop thinking about it. So I went back and got it. Done! I wanted something close to the baju kebaya, the traditional Malay dress, but a modern looking kebaya, with see through flared sleeves that goes up to my elbow, so Adam can partially see the henna on my hands (beautifully hand drawn by Nadine Paul) when we puts a ring on me! Now that I know what I wanted, all I need to do is get my designer friend, the very talented and wonderful Hatta Dolmat, to make my vision come to life.
I thought of what I wanted to do with my turban on my wedding day, like.. maybe do something crazy, but I decided.. nah. I wanted to be comfortable and just.. look more like me, Yuna. But.. maybe the wedding version of Yuna.
I always wanted to see if I could successfully pull the turban with flowers look without making it look weird, and on that day, I just went for it. I got Hatta to sew some fresh white orchids, some leaves and tiny pink flowers on to the back part of my turban, just under my veil. And guess what.
It didn't look weird! Well, at least to me it didn't. I loved it. I matched the Puncak Rimba jungle,
The Private Reception Dress
The private reception was just a small affair attended by the same people who came to my wedding ceremony or akad nikah earlier that day. Initially I planned to wear the same dress for the dinner reception after the akad nikah. Either that or.. maybe I'll just find something more casual like a simple maxi dress since it was just going to be a relaxed dinner thing... but then I was like, screw it. Let's make another beautiful dress, why not.
I went to downtown LA and found a store called Valentine Fabric, which was a hidden gem in the LA textile district. They were relatively cheaper from Mood, and even though the store was a bit unorganized, they had endless choices of beaded lace for wedding gowns.. and the quality was great too! The owner of the shop was friendly, but he also wanted to marry me ( "Wedding dress? No! Marry me instead!" In a thick Armenian accent ). But he was cool, he gave a great price, even though I politely declined the proposal. I got this beautiful light gold beaded lace, which I thought would be nice against beige lining. Back in KL, I reached out to designers JepXJay, they recently made a beautiful dress for me and I felt like maybe they can come up with something cool for the night reception. I gave them the fabric, Jep took one look at it, and he seemed like he already knew they were gonna make something amazing out of it... and they did!
JepXJay made a beautiful champagne multi-tiered dress, with beaded tassels dangling on my shoulders, and a long ribbon falling from my back.. I have to say, I was blown away. I couldn't believe this came from the fabric I got in DTLA. It matched Adam's tan suit that he was going to wear to our night reception after the akad.. honestly it will just match the whole set up at Puncak Rimba, with yellow lights and all that. And to accessorize my turban, I decided to wear a silver headpiece that was given to me by a wonderful designer Olivia Couture (who made a dress for my press conference), and it complimented the dress perfectly.
The Press Conference Dress
A lot of great things can start from a DM on Instagram. Olivia Couture reached out to me on DM, and I almost missed the poor girl's message in the sea of DMs I haven't checked in months. But I saw her designs and was very impressed. Ashley from Olivia Couture, runs her boutique herself. She was a one woman show. I still didn't know what she could make me yet, I already have dresses for all the wedding receptions. But then I remembered - I need something to wear to our wedding Press Conference.
I was in LA the whole time and we talked over Whatsapp, exchanged photos for ideas and inspiration, and she was absolutely lovely to work with. When I was back in KL a month before the wedding, I finally went to see her the first time at her boutique. I was very humbled by her tiny little workshop, she had beautiful dresses on display, and it since it was a college area, she only made dresses for students wanting something to wear at parties or college events, she was very excited to make something close to a bridal dress for me - it was her forte, and I can see a lot of potential in her. She already had my dress laid out on her table complete with accessories. She made this beautiful two-toned maroon and and pink with beaded lace dress. It was perfect for the press conference - more relaxed and fun but also something that will also say 'Hi guys! We're married! Tada!'. The gradient pink lining was a fun surprise, I loved it. I was going to wear a light pink satin scarf from Putri Rex, just a clean look, and my wedding ring! Done! We got a dress for the PC!
The Main Reception Dress
I'll be honest. I just wanted to wear the traditional Malay headpiece so bad, I figured that whatever dress I was gonna wear would have to go with it. There were 4 things that I wanted for the main reception dress - headpiece, sparkly bodice, ball gown skirt, and a really, really long sash-train. Think Queen Amidala from Star Wars, but like a turban hijabi version of her.
I had this in my head for months, and I couldn't imagine myself wearing anything else for the my main reception.
When I was at Mood, I looked at a few beaded laces to match this dress I've pictured in my head. I picked this beautiful diamante lace, that was just so sparkly from far, like it was calling to me. Over here, you bedazzled freak. The fabric was pretty, but pretty fragile too, and the beads kept getting stuck to each other giving me a heart attack whenever I lay it out, but it was too beautiful, I was determined to make it work. I then went to Downtown LA (for the 3rd time) and walked around the fabric district, and found this amazing store called Imperial Trim & Beads (its on Maple Ave between 8th and 9th) that only sells rhinestone trim patches.. I went insane! My sparkly bodice was going to be a reality, and Hatta was my fairy-godmother that was gonna make it all come true, for sure!
I showed Hatta what I got, and he was blown away! We were like 2 little kids all giggly and excited about our newly found treasures. We were going back and forth with the idea of making the dress partially made from songket, a Malaysian brocade fabric that is normally used for wedding garments for both the groom and the bride, but I felt like I wanted something different. I didn't want a songket dress, but I also wanted to match my Adam. So instead, we made a long, crystal-beaded songket sash that will compliment the dress and also, my wonderful husband's traditional songket suit.
When Hatta and I had our first fitting, I was over the moon! It's that first moment you look at your dress and you go - Wow. I can't believe this was just an idea, a tiny image in my head, an effort - me driving back and forth downtown LA, stuck in traffic, walking into every single shop, looking and touching every single fabric I admire.. and now, all of that.. combined together, was going to be my wedding dress. It's kind of like writing a song, but a sparkly song that I can wear.
Hatta made an amazing suit for Adam as well, Oh. My God. He looked like a real Malaysian prince. We kept the suit all white and his traditional Malay accessories silver so we would match each other.
Oh and as for my headpiece? The one that started it all? Let's just say I found it sitting on the top shelf of an wedding accessory shop in KL, almost forgotten. The shop owner kept showing me all the other ones, but when I saw this particular headpiece, it looked very similar to what I had always imagined, it was also the biggest one of them all.. I didn't think too long. Go big, or go home right? As long as I remember not to poke my groom in the eye when we're next to each other!
The English Wedding Dress
OMG, are we finally coming to the end of our 6 dresses blog post? So soon??
Well, the final dress I wore to my wedding (Adam's reception), was this beautiful blush dress. We already had two Malay receptions, and Adam wanted to have an English wedding to honor his roots (his dad is from Lancashire), so he was going to wear a suit by our wonderful friend and designer, Shahrin Bahar, and me, I was going to wear something that was not in white! I went to look for something blush on my fabric hunting, I and found this beautiful blush pink beaded lace, it reminded me of Elie Saab, and since we're both huge fans of the designer, I sent the photo to Hatta and we decided yep, lets wear this to Adam's English wedding!
Hatta and I went back and fourth with the design, I wanted something classic, simple and timeless, and something that I can move in..and run. We were going to have a little dance routine for our wedding entrance, together with Adam's parents, his siblings and their spouses, his bestfriends, cousins, with his nieces and nephew! Well, to successfully do this, I'm gonna have to be able to twirl and run in this dress, so I asked for a simple all over beaded mermaid cut dress with an overskirt. Hatta made sure every part of the dress was covered with the beaded lace and crystals. It was perfect! We danced, we ran, we laughed, I was sparkly, and I also didn't fall, nobody got hurt.. it was a successful, fun night!
So there it is, my long post about my six dresses. They all have a special story, and I created beautiful memories making them. It was an honor working with such talented local designers, both experienced, and new, and I'm so thankful to find humble designers that would listen to my ideas and making them come true. We created beautiful memories together, those dresses came from so much love and hard work, I'm so happy with all of them.
So here's my tip for all the bride-to-be's out there, looking for their wedding dress (or for wedding planning! Actually, this works for that too);
1. Do whatever the hell you want. It's a once in a lifetime thing. If you can afford it, splurge on your dress, if you want to save money, rent a dress. Nothing wrong with doing what you're comfortable with. Don't worry about what people are going to say about what you wear. You like what you like, right? Be true to yourself, listen to suggestions, but make your own decision. You're a big girl!
2. Have an inspiration board and sketch (if you can!) your ideas. See if the dress you want will compliment your body, your identity, and your wedding event. And see if this works within your budget. Research the designers you want to work with or buy from. Be absolutely sure before moving forward. What I'm trying to say is, don't waste your money on a dress that you're not going to be happy with. Plan ahead and be sure, so every cent you spend is worth it.
3. Get some advice from friends. My friend who got married 2 years ago gave me this tip - "Just make the skirt very big lah." Pretty straight forward. She said when she saw her wedding photos, and although she was very happy, she kinda wish that she had made the skirt of her wedding dress a little more ball-gown-ish. I took the tip, but only because I was super down for a big ball gown skirt, hell yes. So, I would say, ask friends what they did for their wedding dress, and how they worked towards getting it. Did they hire a designer? Were they affordable etc.. most former brides (in my experience) would be happy to help a sister out. PS: There are all these different types of wedding dresses you can go for. Here's a glossary I found to make your life easy.. you're welcome!
Also, last but not least.. just have fun and enjoy every process. Don't stress. At the end of the day, it's only a dress that you will wear for a couple of hours. You'll wear many more dresses in your life with your loved one, so if there's any problem, just remember that everything can be solved, and the most important thing is that you have found the love of your life - go and celebrate it in any dress, honestly!
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