In this regular feature, we speak to real brides about their quest to find the perfect wedding dress. How long did they shop? How did they know they’d found the one?
The wedding story
Toronto-based celebrity fashion stylist Talia Brown married Nelson Thall in a pre-pandemic winter wedding at the King Edward Hotel’s iconic Crystal Ballroom. It was a Thursday night celebration, and they kicked things off in a grand way with food stations and drinks at 6 p.m., followed by their ceremony at 8 p.m., a formal seated dinner, an epic dance party and McDonald’s late-night delivery.
The couple indulged their guests in a fairy-tale celebration that Talia says was heavily influenced by the whimsical setting. The elegant and royal-feeling decor featured a palette of white, light blue and gold to riff off the grand space’s interior style. The historic ball room was also the inspiration for Talia’s one-of-a-kind, custom wedding dress.
The wedding dress story
“Our wedding venue had a Beauty and the Beast enchantment to it, and I wanted a gown that not only reflected me but the magic of the space,” says Talia. “My vision was for everything to work together like a dream, including my dress. I knew I needed someone to work with me who understood me, my vision and our wedding details.”
She found her dream dress maker in Nikki Yassemi Wirthensohn, designer and creative director of Canadian fashion brand Narces. The two women were already friends and had worked together on a few fashion-industry projects before, so the collaboration was a natural fit. “Nikki is such a visionary,” says Talia. “She read my mind and instinctively knew what my perfect dress was.”
The custom design process
Talia says the vision for her dress was a team effort that included input and inspiration from her husband-to-be Nelson, her mom and designer Nikki. There were a few things on the must list for Talia for her wedding dress: she wanted her arms covered, a statement bow detail incorporated into the mix and a long, dramatic skirt. The colourway was also important as Talia wanted it to be unique and anything but traditional. “I never pictured myself in a typical white wedding dress,” says Talia.
A pale Cinderella shade of blue hit right and was also a perfect match for the grand ballroom venue. Nikki found the most exquisite fabric featuring delicate gold and silver thread work giving it a luxury feel of old world elegance. From there, she brought the dress to life in dreamy watercolour sketch, and it was love at first sight for Talia.
Nikki received the fabric to create Talia’s dress in mid-November, and the wedding day was in mid-February the following year. From start to completion Talia’s wedding dress took under three months. There were four fittings, including the initial muslin one, which is where the shape, silhouette and fit of the dress is determined by the designer.
Talia says the oversize bow detail she wanted was more epic than even she imagined: the star attraction on the back of her gown. “My dress was so incredibly magical, I really need a reason to wear it again!”
The mini-me dress
In January of this year, Talia’s wedding dress did magically reappear in her life, albeit in a tinier version worn by her sweet daughter Arielle for her first birthday. For the milestone moment, Arielle was gifted a darling replica of her mother’s wedding dress, oversize back bow included, by Narces designer Nikki:. “Nikki never told us she held onto extra fabric from my wedding dress in the hopes I would one day have a daughter,” says Talia. “I call Nikki fairy godmother of dresses, and this generous gift to Arielle is absolute proof of this! When Nikki told me she held on to fabric from my wedding dress to make Arielle’s birthday dress, I welled up with tears. Arielle’s dress began as a sketch just like mine, and I love that she’s already had her first ever custom dress fitting and bespoke fashion experience.”
The going custom advice
If you’re considering going bespoke for your wedding dress, Talia says it’s an experience unlike any other and one she would recommend to every bride. “A custom dress means you can have all the details you want in one dress, without compromise,” she says. “You can romanticize and create mood boards and plan with a designer you who you really connect with. In my case, it was also a smart option because I didn’t have the luxury of time, we planned our wedding on a tight timeline and a lot of dresses bought from a boutique are not available for delivery so quickly. It was an amazing process to be a part of, and I loved that my gown was designed especially for me and that it fit me like a glove.”