I tend to be pretty fickle when it comes to all special-occasion clothing. Once I see or wear something a few times, I’m ready for something fresh. So I was pretty nervous about finding a wedding dress that I would love just as much on my wedding day as the first time I tried it on. I think this is a common problem, right?! How are you supposed to know that you’ll be into the same dress 9 or 12 months down the line?
My approach to dress shopping was, perhaps, a little unorthodox. I looked around online for months. I went to one bridal salon, but everything felt a bit too formal for me. I was looking for a dress that would fit a tropical wedding without being too boho or casual, a dress that had a bit of an Asian or Indonesian esthetic (our wedding location), something with a bishop sleeve (because I knew I’d be wearing something sleeveless for my rehearsal dress and reception), not a ton of beading, something unique to me…
I initially came across a dress by Bo & Luca on BHLDN’s website. It was a long dress with a tiered skirt and the model wearing it was holding an umbrella with tassels. It reminded me so much of Bali. I fell totally in love with it.
The initial dress I found and loved by Bo & Luca.
Still I wanted something a bit more fitted around the top, and long sleeve. So I kept looking around. Eventually I came across another dress I loved. It was long sleeve with an open back, lots of beading, but still felt relatively informal. Then I saw it was also by Bo & Luca.
So in that moment I decided then that Bo & Luca was the label for me! They were up-and-coming (they’d just been featured in Vogue as one of the emerging bridal labels to keep and eye on) and I just had a gut feeling they’d be great to work with. On July 29, 2017 I emailed their team. Within a few weeks, we were emailing back and forth with all kinds of ideas!
The process of a designing a wedding dress is SO MUCH MORE complicated than I ever realized. First of all, Bo & Luca is an Australian label whose designer is based in South Africa and whose production takes place in India. In this case, they also had a bride who would need to do fittings in LA and eventually get her dress to Indonesia for her wedding (my dress would see the world!). A lot of coordination goes into just timing when the dress will be where, never mind each step of the design process and production. Each Bo & Luca dress is hand beaded, dyed in white tea, and made from the highest quality silks and tulle. They truly are heirloom dresses.
I was introduced to Bo & Luca’s founder and designer, Shannon Pittman, via email. I shared a Pinterest board I had started with her so she could get a feel for what I was dreaming of. Within a month or so, she came back to me with sketches for both ceremony and reception dresses!
As you can see from the sketches we kept everything nearly just as she’d drawn! We did end up shortening the reception dress because I knew I wanted to be barefoot the whole time (the reception took place in the sand), and the ankle length wasn’t flattering on me without shoes. It was such an exciting moment to open the attachments in Shannon’s email and see these drawings! It was also kind of intimidating because these sketches were the only version of my dresses I would see until just a month or so before the actual wedding, so it was a leap of faith, but I trusted Shannon and her team at Bo & Luca. Plus, I definitely wouldn’t be getting tired of looking at the dress before I got to wear it!
From there, I made two visits to the LA bridal boutique LOHO Bridal for fittings. The initial fitting was to get my overall measurements so I just wore a simple slip (as you can see in the photo below). My second fitting was a muslin replica of what my dress would eventually look like. Muslin is basically a mock-up of a dress using inexpensive fabrics, so we could still pin, cut, whatever without wasting or damaging silk chiffon!
I loved how conservative the ceremony dress appeared in the front, but that it had an open back which made it a little more fun. I loved the silhouette, and especially loved how the veil tied it all together.
The reception dress was flirty with super feminine off-the-shoulder sleeves, and short enough that I could run around barefoot (which I did!) and my legs wouldn’t look stumpy.
A few people have asked why I went with long sleeves in Indonesia. I just really wanted ONE of my dresses to be long sleeve, and I knew I’d be dancing at the reception so I’d definitely be too hot. I also had chosen my rehearsal dress pretty early on, and that one was sleeveless, so I just went with sleeves for the ceremony dress!
Once the fittings and measurements were completed and perfected, it was time to send the muslin dresses off to India to be made (for REAL this time), dyed, and hand-beaded. Initially the design for the beading was traditional and in line with what Bo & Luca usually does, which is beautiful! But I really wanted the beading to be representative of the location where we’d be married, so Shannon created a custom pattern for the beading that was intended to reflect greenery and flowers you might actually find in Indonesia! It was GORGEOUS!! You can see some of the beading process below. It’s incredibly intricate! The Bo & Luca team also sent me some earrings of theirs that matched the beading to wear with my reception dress.
Isn’t it wild how much goes into making a dress?! I definitely gained a whole new appreciation for wedding dresses and bridal designers after this!
Once my dresses had been beaded and left to dye in white tea for a day or so (which gives them that very slightly off-white, vintage feel), they were sent to me in LA where I tried them on just one more time, and then I was off to Indo! Here they are, finally in action……
Photos: Mitch Pohl
HMU: Sarah Laidlaw for The Future Mrs.