Friday, September 30, 2011

Charmagne's Wedding: The Guests

Part 4 in September's Modest Wedding Series
Waiting for the Bride

The eldest and the youngest ladies in this pew caught my attention for their celebratory colours amid a sea of black and grey. I encountered the elder lady twice in the course of Charmagne's wedding week and both times her hair was carefully styled in a French coronet braid with a pink camelia peeking over her brow.

One day that could be me.


Demonstrating the ease of turning an ordinary outfit into something special: feminine colours, a layer of dainty fabric, and simple accessories (see her hair and footwear).

What makes a wedding the social event of the season? Girls get to natter, or girls get to dress up, or girls get to see and natter about how other girls dress up?


Suzannah Rowntree's ethnic-style shawl immediately captured my attention. When I asked for its story, she said that it came from her favourite Asian shop in Victoria, Australia. It makes an attractive modesty-layer for her white crewneck tee. If it is her denim skirt that has captured your attention, I can tell you that she made it herself from two pairs of jeans, and next week's post will explain exactly how she did it.


Clare and Samalah looked distinctly individual and made it look easy to achieve their casual elegance.  Both chose velveteen skirt fabric topped with a tailored jacket, but their combinations of texture, trims, and accessories produced very different effects.

How to dress warmly for a special event and still look adorable



Further Hair Flair. Check out Genevieve's basket weave.
The bride's niece and nephew
Masculine Promenade
[Above and below] Photographer Steven Sandbrook of www.StevenSandbrookPhotography.co.nz with his sister Clare and other family members provided a wonderful example of a family content to work together.


Little princesses at the feast watch the cutting of the bridal cake.
See the bride and the cake here.

My mother commented on the unusual number of children present at this wedding. It was charming to have them there, and to realize that they were watching and learning from the culture-leading, modest proceedings just as I was.
You've seen the faux-leather jacket before [MM Love Those Leathers], you've seen the mermaid skirt before [MM Christmas Carol], but you might like the above combination better than in the "Love Those Leathers" Modelling Modesty post. A reader protested that the jacket just didn't go with the black skirt! What do you think?

The melon cotton knit cardigan has three-quarter sleeves. The shoes are synthetic oxfords, made extra comfortable by inserting leather insoles from another pair of shoes. Top and shoes were both purchased from The Warehouse.
So you know who was taking the photos =)

I'm glad to say that the standard of male dress (and posture) was not generally what you see behind me.

As always at functions like this, there were many interesting people I didn't get to talk with or photograph. One photo I very much wish I could share with you would be of a young lady diligently serving the guests. She had the thickest cascade of straight blonde ponytail I've ever seen, and she wore an antique rose/lavender skirt suit of what looked like embroidered silk. I would love to know the story of that outfit. Where did she get it? Perhaps if she or her mother read this post, they will be willing to share those details with us.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Charmagne's Wedding: The Bridesmaids

While it's true that the bride is the primary interest for spectators, the bridesmaids provide a foreshadowing and stimulate excitement for what is coming. Charmagne's bridesmaids looked and acted like princesses.

Behind the scenes nine days before...
A friend sewed the organza and silk gowns for little sisters Kaitlyn and Grace. Charmagne created older sister Genevieve's silk gown accented with organza.

Six year old Grace took courage in the name of Jesus and sparkled with joy rather than fear as she led the bridal party up the aisle.
Kaitlyn bore herself with charm and dignity as she ensured the bride's train was kept free from the wheels of her father's stand-up wheelchair.
Hair Flair

Genevieve as always adorned the proceedings with her gracious loveliness.
After greeting their guests outside the church and mingling around the horse-drawn carriage for a short period, the bride and groom suddenly set off on foot down the road for photographs in the city square, stopping traffic movement and starting public tongues wagging. Some passers-by even had their cameras out. This couple clearly like to give surprises, for this wasn't the only one that day.
Mother of the bride Barbara appeared calm and beautiful, her garments cleverly coordinated with her daughters. She usually wears her pretty hair loose, but on this occasion she had it rolled at the sides and coiled at the nape of her neck, similar to Gracie's, an elegant finishing touch for her modish outfit.
I observed in the ladies of the bride's family a noteworthy contrast to cultural norms. If cosmetics were used, it was to invisibly enhance, not to draw attention to its presence for its own sake. The girls and women all looked their delightful best and yet normal, natural individuals.

When the prevailing culture advocates artificiality, it takes courage and conviction to be different and be real. Do you wear makeup? Is it to enhance, or to attract attention? I recently watched an interview of a bunch of guys trying to help each other understand women better. When the question came up, "Why do they wear SO much makeup?", their collective, passionate response was, "They don't wear it for us, they wear it for each other!"  Examine yourself, asking, Why do I wear makeup?

There are several facets to this (face-inating) topic and a primary one is the consideration of were you taught how to apply it so you look natural, or did your teacher favour the "Look, I'm wearing makeup!" style? Perhaps, like me, you didn't have a teacher at all and are struggling to acquire skill in product choice and application. If this is you, my recommendation is that you find a lady in your church or community, or even through online networks, who presents herself in a manner that you respect, then ask her if she would be willing to mentor you in the skills of modest femininity.
The week prior to the wedding, Charmagne demonstrated the niftiness she used to ensure Genevieve and baby Evangeline would be modest and comfortable throughout the day. The empire waistline on the maid of honour's dress has a hanging band...

...which lifts up to give access to invisible zips, one set each side of centre front, allowing its maternal wearer to look elegant and minimize the fuss of uncovering to nurse baby throughout the day.


Further ease is provided by a hook and eye, and functional buttons front and back. The sash band is, from the side seams, detached and fully adjustable for motherhood's fluctuating dimensions, since the dress was made two months before the original wedding date. [Due to Mr. Smith's health crisis, the wedding was moved forward five weeks.]
Charmagne is master of small details. I loved the brass and blue glass buttons, and do you observe the tiny scalloped lace outlining cuffs, band, neckline, and hem? Très charmant.


 Who else was there and what did they wear? Next week, more photos from the wedding and reception.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Charmagne's Wedding: The Bride

I have so many wonderful wedding photos at my fingertips that I don't know where to start, so I'm asking myself, What will readers want to see first?

The Bride. Of course.
Here is a first glimpse, but I have to say before we continue how extraordinarily moving, joyful, and glorious this wedding day was. You might say that every wedding is amazingly special and full of joy, but it seemed to me there was an extra measure of something upon this occasion.

It was a great relief not to be faced with ANY bared bosoms, but that wasn't it. The bride and groom glowed with their love for one another and excitement in plighting their troth, but that wasn't it either. The best I can summarize it is that the hand of the Almighty was upon every detail of this day, and this was continually and publicly pointed out by those in attendance.

Why would the LORD God especially pour out His blessing on this wedding? I suggest because the hearts of the bride and groom and their parents have for a long time been devoted to loving Jesus Christ above any other. They have been willing to change the way they live in order to glorify God foremost. I saw this reflected in many small details. As the Scripture says, "...Blessed is the man that feareth the LORD, that delighteth greatly in his commandments," and, "By their fruits ye shall know them."*

*Psalm 112:1, Matthew 7:20
No, your eyes are not playing tricks. It is a literal cheese cake. The bride and groom addressed the cheese according to tradition, then it was whisked away by...actually, I didn't see who the whiskers were...and sliced for the guests to enjoy with their soup, breads, and meats.
When Charmagne showed me her almost-finished gown the week prior to the wedding, we discussed the pros and cons of many small buttons, which I remembered were a feature of the dress that Erin Mallon wore at Genevieve's wedding [see here for BN photo]. We agreed that small buttons, tiny button loops, and nervous/hurried fingers were not a good combination. But Charmagne has a trick or two up her sleeve.
You can have the look without the fuss. Insert an invisible zip and stitch a row of pearl buttons along one edge. No-one will know the difference (unless we tell them).
Here's another trick Charmagne learned from her sewing mentor. Stitch wide elastic straps into the side seams and afix clasps which fasten at the back when the dress is worn. The straps will support the dress and take the pressure off the zip. This is a wise precaution. My sister experienced as a bridesmaid the trauma of a zipper ripper during the reception. She stood with her back to a wall until the well-prepared chief bridesmaid was alerted to her distress and fetched safety pins and a shawl.
If you want a low neckline, it's essential to ensure it won't gape as you move. Charmagne designed a panel behind the embroidered satin bodice, joined to the satin on three sides but separate at the top. The top edge is banded with elastic. You can see in this image that it is slightly gathered when the dress is not being worn. The upper edge is trimmed with a netting ruffle. When the dress is worn, all that can be seen is a hint of ruffle behind the satin center panel.

Another secret to preventing The Great Gape on a square neckline is to stitch one end of a strip of elastic to each corner of the neckline and the other to the corresponding side seam under the bust. These bands were hidden between the silk outer and the cotton lining, so I wasn't able to snap an illustration of this. The bands provide a subtle downward pull and thus keep the fabric close to your body. [More details on how to achieve this here.]
Have you ever seen an old newspaper column detailing community social events? Weddings were plum topics for dissection. What the bridal party wore was described in meticulous detail. Charmagne's sister and matron of honour, Genevieve de Deugd (a founding member of Boutique Narelle), has provided this post-wedding savour for us via her family's website.

"I haven’t seen any of the wedding photos but I hope that some will capture the beauty of Charmagne’s wedding dress. It was a spectacular production. Charmagne designed and drafted the pattern and executed the dress in such a short time. It had a square neck, cap sleeves, princess lines at front and back.The dress was fitted around the bodice and then flowed out over a netted underskirt and ended in a curved train at the back. The skirt split at the front up to waist level to reveal a gathered netting fabric underneath. The split and train were all bordered by a braid containing a hint of gold. The dress itself was a white silk. The netting was curtain fabric – a hallmark in everything Charmagne creates. It always contains curtaining somewhere! Charmagne utilized a gold and crystal broach at the top of the split and sewed gold and crystal beads over the front of the dress in a spray pattern from the broach. It was all absolutely beautiful!"

Thank you, Genevieve!

If you'd like to read more about the ceremony and reception, click here and page down to entries from the 11th and 12th of September.

To view enlarged, click on photos.
 The bride shows her delight in her creation, her labour of love for her bridegroom.

The bodice panel and sleeves were fashioned from a narrow border of embroidered satin lace which Charmagne purchased from Bryan Gaskin Fabrics.

She used the hoop petticoat she created for her sister Genevieve's wedding. She wanted more fullness than Genevieve had, so she added an extra layer of net between the hoop layer and the existing net frills. At the hem, there are 4 layers of fabric, plus the polyester overskirt (lining fabric, for that little bit of rustle).


The wire that makes the 'hoop' is inserted in the hem of the white underlayer.
 Mr and Mrs Joshua Downes
Photo courtesy of Bethany Waugh.

Abundant gratitude goes to Samalah Gray for trusting me with her camera. My camera seems to be dying and it is certain I would not have captured the once-in-a-lifetime wedding moments as well as her camera allowed.

Who was there and what did they wear? Next week, more photos of the wedding and reception.
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