We have all seen incredible fantasy wedding day photos like these. Photographer,Michael J. Ramos, is the real deal and so are his clients.
I have admired and followed Michael's talent from the beginning. His eye for composition and architectural detail is what drew me to his work. Michael is known to do just about anything to get the shot, including "jumping in". While his amazing captures are once in a lifetime shots, what happens after the snap? What happens when your dress is a mess?!
I always say one day I will write a book about my design experiences. I have so many interesting stories and many favorite clients. Rachel McKnight is one of them.
Rachel came to Headpiece.com as a veil lover. She imagined her veil having its own life on her wedding day with Michael Ramos behind the lens following its every move. I remember Rachel telling me during her consultation if she had an endless budget her veil length would match it. She wanted the longest veil possible. We designed it to finish at 147" long. Only one other client requested a bridal veil that long, and she was actress Tara Reid.
Rachel's Wedding Gown Story
Photos by MJR Photography
I was getting married there. It was my dream. It was how I pictured marrying Blaze, not in a small event hall space. So I made the call and said it’s at the Botanical Gardens no matter what!
I went on my Facebook and in capital letters wrote: THE WEDDING IS STILL TAKING PLACE AT THE GARDENS! BRING AN UMBRELLA!
Afterwards, during the pictures it started to rain a little bit and I ended up looking like a wet dog. The whole day was more misty than rainy .
My dress was so dirty after I left the gardens, but I didn’t care at that point. I was so happy I made the decision to get married there.
At the end of the night, Michael J. Ramos proved a dirty Enzoani wedding gown could be absolutely stunning!
Brielle's Wedding GOWN Story
Photos by Allison Kuhn Creative
Early in the day, I was hyper-aware of letting the slightest speck of dirt touch my wedding attire! Dress and veil carrying duties were delegated to my bridesmaids (and flower girl!) as the day progressed. I will never forget Abbey looking at me right before we walked into the church, just drowning in my veil and saying "Wow this is so much fabric!!!!"
Mother of the bride, Donna Ciavarella, came to Headpiece.com for a consultation in November. She wished to have something designed from her wedding gown as a surprise gift for her daughter for her February wedding. Donna's dress had been cleaned and preserved in 1984. Together, we opened the box with her wedding gown inside for the first time.
In the eighties, wedding gowns were preserved using acidic tissue paper and enclosed in a box that was then sealed in plastic. Brides were warned to keep the box sealed so the preservation wouldn't be ruined. Donna was so excited to see her wedding gown again after being entombed for over thirty years. The thought of surprising her daughter with something handmade from her wedding gown made her so happy.
After seeing the condition of Brielle's dress, I knew exactly where to take it to try to bring her gown back to life.
I met with Donna Serino at Hallak Couture Cleaners in Hackensack, NJ. My desire was to learn more about the delicate process of wedding gown cleaning and preservation. "Were my expectations too high for saving Brielle's wedding gown?"
Laura unveiled the dirty dress and inspected the gown and lace jacket for sewing repairs.
José Rodriguez is Hallak's master dry cleaner technician who would provide all of the answers. I asked him, "On a scale of one to ten...how bad is Brielle's dress?" José replied, "A nine!" I visited Hallak on four separate occasions to document the results. We had our work cut out for us!
José began at Hallak in NYC as a delivery boy in 1988. The original founder, Mr. Joseph Hallak Sr, piqued José's interest in the dry cleaning trade and prompted him to attend National Cleaners Association and New York School of Dry Cleaning. He is valued at Hallak with over twenty five years of experience.
Hallak cleans and preserves wedding gowns for brides from all over the country and offer shipping services.
I noticed a beautiful ornate wedding gown hanging next to Brielle's. The gown was just released from storage to be refreshed. The intricate beaded detail intrigued me and I began to snap some pics. I recognized this wedding gown as Mariah Carey's from her first marriage to Tommy Motolla. Hallak Couture Cleaners is also known as the cleaners for the stars!
It was time to begin the journey to clean Brielle's dress. I was amazed at how much work and expertise is put into the process. José began by choosing the proper chemicals to treat the mess on her hem.
I asked José to help me to understand why they call it dry cleaning but it doesn't look like "dry" cleaning.
With a dirt rating of nine, Brielle's wedding gown needed much more than traditional dry cleaning. Her gown needed to go through a second process called "wet cleaning". Think of it like a wedding gown bath. Her dress was soaked overnight and then hung to dry---TWICE!
Finally, I was beginning to recognize the Lea-Ann Belter wedding gown we had fallen in love with at Something Bleu Bridal in Saratoga Springs just thirteen months before.
José was very satisfied with his efforts. He prepared me that there is never any guarantee of stain removal. With a dress as soiled as Brielle's, his hopes were to remove 80% of the stains. He exceeded that and removed 90%!
Next, was the easy task of spot cleaning Brielle's wedding veil. Brielle and her bridal entourage took incredible care of her veils that we designed. This made me happy!
Mission accomplished! Times have changed since wedding gown preservation during the eighties. Today's preservation techniques will allow Brielle to take a peek at her dress now and then. Her dress has been cleaned by the best, preserved by the experts...and oh did it have so much fun on October "Fourteenth"!
I will end this blog with a quick video and the most important advice of all. Here are some things to consider if you love your wedding dress and want to keep it as a family heirloom:
1-Don't try to treat any stain yourself. You can set the stains and cause irreversible damage to your dress fabric.
2-Take your dress ASAP to a reputable dry cleaner who is trained in heirloom garment cleaning and preservation. The longer you keep a dirty dress in your closet, the more impossible it is to clean it.
3-Inform the dry cleaner of all stains that you remember--champagne, 7-up, beer etc.. Invisible stains are the worst and will cause rusty oxidation stains over time that will become permanent!
4-Don't look for the cheapest dry cleaner. I never knew how tedious this process was until I watched it being done.
5-No matter where you are located in the country contact Hallak the Couture Cleaner for their expertise.
We have so many blogs in the works. Stories that will amaze you and touch your heart. Check in next month as we follow Shannon Post and her quest to keep her mom in her heart and present on her wedding day.
Next month on the Fourteenth: