Wedding Bling Plotting

So MR & I have decided to finally tie the knot. Which means an opportunity to make or buy a preeeetty dress.

Traditional white wedding dresses was ruled out because I really would like something I can wear again. Or at least refashion into something more wearable afterward. And as white isn’t my favourite colour, I don’t think I’ll get much mileage out of a white wedding dress. Instead I have fallen for fancy sarees from the Indian subcontinent. Originally I thought I’d just treat the saree I get as fabric & make a more western dress out of it. But the more bridal wear photos I looked at the more I’m tempted to stick to their original designs.

lehenga_red-gold-1What I didn’t realize was that their bridal wear differs depending on the region, with South India favouring the saree (draped fabric skirt/shawl + top + maybe petticoat), and West & East (North?) favouring a top (choli) + skirt (lehenga) + shawl (dupatta) combo. The latter seems to have the more intricate embroidery, but obviously would be harder to refashion. So I’m a bit torn.

The other problem is you set foot in those shops and your eyes glaze over, overwhelmed by the bling & variety. Where to even begin! I’m tempted to shop online, but am worried because most online shops are based in India, and not of that extraction I’m nervous whether cultural barriers might prevent a smooth online purchase. Things like whether what you see on the website will really be what you get – especially since I’ve been told that many items are hand-embellished, so difficult to reproduce exactly. Or how long it’ll take – is it off the shelf or do someone have to make them to order. (I only have about 3 months to sort out my outfit.) And my preference would of course be to just get the fabric & sew up myself to ensure better fit. But of course some of the nicer embellishment has to follow the pattern shape – eg neckline. So I don’t see how that would be possible if I get only the fabric.

It’s all a bit nerve-wrecking. I just ordered two lehenga cholis by Nakkashi online from Haya We shall see if (a) they arrive at all, (b) arrive in time, (c) the quality is acceptable, (d) if they look anything like the photos. (I would have ordered from Nakkashi’s online shop, except the order form doesn’t seem to work for international customers.)

Both of these – if the fabric quality is good enough – should be easily refashionable into casual luxe. They don’t look too OTT for the minuscule registry wedding ceremony we’re going to have.

I’m still debating on what my Plan B should be. One options is to try to get something from a brick & mortar shop, maybe from one of the shops on Green Street near Upton Park East London (- a must see if you like Indian/Asian Bling – apology to other nationals from the region for lumping you all under the “Indian” label for brevity – being another type of Asian myself I still can’t get use to calling you guys “Asians” because that’s what I’m used to calling Chinese, Japanese, Koreans, etc.). It’s an intimidating options due to the sheer number of choices & possibly higher prices or possibly less reliable fit.

Another alternative is to pick a similarly simpler design online & try to source the material to make it myself. Judging by the proliferation of the same photos online + complaints against stores, seems like maybe many shop are selling imitations & not the originals anyway. I think this one might be doable if I can source similar fabric & borders.

There were a couple of fabric / trim shops on Green Street carrying bling fabrics /trims presumably for exactly such purpose. Barbara, a London-based sewing friend, also found some in Walthamstow.

And of course any suggestions from you would be most welcome! As would any advice from any (British) “Asian” / Indian subcontinent readers of course! ๐Ÿ™‚

Now if I may leave you with a few more eye-candies…

And I’m totally in awe of these tailors & embellishers’ skills…

Amazing! And nerve-wrecking to watch how the embellisher maneuver the cord back & forth under the high-speed couching machine. Hope no fingers were hurt in its making. It’s easy to criticize poor quality end products. But given the work pressure many of these workers are under, I think they’ve done pretty well. Certainly much better than I could have done under the same pressure.

12 comments on “Wedding Bling Plotting

  1. idthoris says:

    Best wishes to you and yours on your marriage. The spouse and I dithered for 13 years before we wed (for health insurance, a very American thing to do) and have survived another 20 or so years of marriage.
    Lucky for you, you live within train and cab distance of East London and some of the best silks. You may need to do this during the work week, but hopefully only have to make one day of it.
    I made my own wedding dress out of rice paper, and it self-destructed the night before. It hangs in the living room now, it turned into the guest book.

    • piakdy says:

      Thank you!

      I don’t understand why health insurance would delay getting married – I thought it’d be easier to get covered as a spouse! Anyway, that is definitely one thing that puts me off ever moving back to the Sates, even though the UK national health service is crumbling too.

      Your wedding dress sounds like a riot! Any photos of it you can share? What did you end up wearing in the end?

  2. Congratulations, Pia! How exciting! Good luck sourcing your fabrics and making that special dress. Or dresses? Some friends celebrated with a week of parties, and every one required a different dress or two!

    • piakdy says:

      Thank you! So far material sourcing is turning out surprisingly hard. Sometimes it’s best to go shopping without too specific an idea in mind. I found another Indian online shop that does a copy of the dress I have in mind & they provided close-up of the fabrics they use. I’m in love! Of course I can’t find anything like it offline or online. May have to go RTW this time. Sigh.

      Sadly, our celebration won’t merit multiple dresses. But I’m not immune to over-dressing in daily life & the dresses I’ve veering towards aren’t so OTT. So I might still squeeze some use out of them…even if it’s only to taking them out for petting & oohing & ahhing once in a while…just like with the rest of my fabric Stash! ๐Ÿ™‚

      How’s the bandage dress coming along? Hope it’s not driving you crazy!

  3. Sri says:

    Make a trip to Southall- there are tons of shops on the High Street there. It is a very Punjabi area, so you will get loads of sari and dress shops. If you get a sari, you’ll need a blouse to go with it. And a petticoat. You should buy a matching blouse/petticoat at the same time as the sari. The sari will be 5 metres of fabric, that you drape on to yourself, using the petticoat to tuck the skirt drape into place. There are many styles of wearing the sari. Youtube is great for video help.

    Another option is Gujarati areas like Kingsbury and Wembley in North/west london. There will be loads of shops on the High street.

  4. Congratulations! East London is awash with Indian fabric/ Saree shops. From Whitechapel Road, Valance road, Bethnal Green, Middlesex St (Petticoat Lane area) there are shops with all levels of goods, from very expensive, highly decorated and very beautiful examples to the more ‘average’ but still very nice pieces. This isn’t the only area, wherever there are communities who use traditional Indian dress there are shops catering for them. London is very spread out, so it would take a long time to get round all of these places. I have mentioned the bit I know best.

    • piakdy says:

      Thank you Jay!

      Is that near Brick Lane? Do you know if they are open on weekends? I recall reading that area’s good for fabrics in general, but every time I visit – which I think has always been on weekend – I couldn’t see any open! Maybe they’re just more scattered than I expected. Must check out the area again. Thanks for the reminder! ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. Congratulations on your impending wedding. I think saris are gorgeous and I know what you mean by being overwhelmed. I love the colours and the bling. Good luck finding/getting/making what you want. Thanks also for those videos… very interesting and again with all that work you wonder how they sell some stuff for such little money. (well we know how but you know what I mean.)

    • piakdy says:

      Thank you Summerflies (?)!

      Do you guys have a big Asian / Indian community in Brisbone too? I love the bright cheerful colours. Maybe because London gets way too many gray days? ๐Ÿ™‚ OK, not everyone can carry off bright colours. But they’re still nice to look at.

      Regarding how little money those workers get…One can only hope that cost of living is also proportionately cheaper. It’s such a dilemma. If one pays more does it actually go to these workers or do the middle men pocket the extra. How do we actually show appreciation & support for these workers?

  6. Congratulations on your engagement and what a lovely idea to wear something Indian. I live in West Yorkshire and there are lots and lots of saree shops around here, as we have a large Asian community. I’ve bought fabric in the past from Bombay Stores in Bradford and they have a very well stocked bridal wear section, although I’m sure other local shops do too. If you’ve got the time or inclination a trip up North to view and try some on might help you decide. I’d be happy to give you more information if you need it and am not affiliated, just would like to help.

    • piakdy says:

      Thank you Karen!

      Are the saree shops near you concentrated in an area that I can get to by public transport? A legacy of being an ex-New Yorker is that I still haven’t learn how to drive! Very inconvenient when shops are scattered all around.

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