Warning-this is a long post. But it does have pictures.
*also you can click on the pictures to enlarge.
I am actually dreading writing this. Honestly, I have been keeping silent about my wedding dress as I am on the fence.
But then again how do I even start? Shoving all my personal feelings aside I am going to handle this review as objectively as I could muster. No influence by personal feelings, interpretations, or prejudice; based on facts; unbiased. God help me please.
I think I have may spent a quarter of my life dreaming about THE wedding dress. I may be shallow to some that I obsess about it a lot but to me, I have been dreaming of this for the longest time so sorry, I am not sorry!
To me it was going to be the most expensive dress I am going to own. So it better be something I really, really like.
Then again, reality bites. There is the budget to consider, the restrictions. (I wouldn’t want to wear something that would look a lot like my cousin’s dress-long story-she is another bride to be that would have her wedding the month after my wedding). Not exactly the best situation but we got to work around it. She will be having a ruffled skirt so, ruffles is out of the picture for me. Sorry no more dramatic skirt for me.
When I found and met Mel Orlina and booked her to be my wedding gown designer I was over the moon. See the post here. I did all the usual stuff a bride to be does. I combed the internet for reviews about her and all of them are glowing reviews. So I am expecting all that I read to be the same experience I was going to have. That’s what I thought back then.
Most of what I wrote on the past post is not really my sentiments anymore I am sad to say. I may be the first to say this but even if the gown designer is talented, there is no replacement for a healthy client-designer relationship. Its about understanding what your client wants and hearing out their requests/ suggestions and ultimately the brainchild of both your ideas will be the finished product.
On the first few meetings it was all about the design. So we started the dress mid of the year June. My initial design was a mermaid gown with dramatic skirt and low back with colored petticoat. –this did not happen, I had to change the design, for the reason above. No dramatic skirt for me.
And design process went until August. By that time I already got three revisions. No more colored petticoat and no more dramatic skirt. What stayed the same was it is a mermaid gown and low back.
Here is the second revision (left) and the final design (right). If you look closely you can see the first sketch was hidden by the second revision as she sketched over the initial drawing. All is well. I love what I see.
So here is me on the fitting of the lining. Look at the fit! yey!
Lining fitting is the first fitting. The shape of the dress-to-be looks really good.
This is the second fitting. Mel personally pinned out all the embroidery detail on the dress. –you can see her in the middle photo. That is her wearing the orange dress. I am really happy with how it turned out. * she personally pinned my embroidery.
Later on that week, the dress even made it to instagram.
Next time I went to her shop I was told that there would be beading on my dress. My issues started here-Third fitting.
I remember looking at my dress for the first time and asking Mel, “I thought there will be no pearls”. She assured me that those are opals as there is a note attached to the garment bag that stated no pearls. I took her word for it.
Once home I went on to google the Swarovski opals and pearl beads. I have a hunch that those beads are not opals. I attached the swarovski chart as well as my guess of what they attached. See for yourself.
Those in my dress are Swarovski flatback pearl cabochons. Opal flatbacks have facets.
I felt deceived, but giving her the benefit of the doubt. Maybe it was all they had. And also another thought that says, no matter. They should have told you first and be upfront if they cannot accommodate your request. Or maybe demand more payment to accommodate the request; or suggest replacements I mean come on, there are a lot of options!
But the beads are already glued and placed. I would really be a huge pain in the ass had I disapprove of it and get them to replace everything. *I really dislike pearls. sobs.
So I ended up consoling myself that those aren’t really “real” pearls, that I can live with it. So, I did. But I really felt bad that my request was not followed despite the fact that we agreed upon it previously.
And this was the third fitting.
Surely you have to give a closer look at the dress.
I am also feeling that my sleeves are kind of “off”. It falls out of place and moves about… They told me that there is a trick to it using tape. They let me try the dress and used tape to hold it in place. It looks and feels ok, but the slightest perspiration or sudden movement would make the tape useless.
On my fourth fitting, I was yet greeted with another problem. There is a crystal missing from my dress. I caught their attention and they said that it will be fixed. I also asked again about how do I keep the dress’s sleeves in place as they move around when I move and looks loose that is not really flattering to look at.
I went back mid week to check on my dress. (I have a shoot that day near Makati so I went back to check and fit.)- I clearly recall the day was Dec 2, 2015 a wednesday. *I was worried as the wedding day is so near.
Again I asked about the missing crystal, as it was still missing.
It was instantly replaced by Mel replaced with a smaller crystal than the rest. (cringe) I was told that it would not be obvious. But the O.C. in me just screamed my head off. See for yourself.
I was shocked.What happened to quality?
That time I was stunned and at the same time a bit angry. I decided that I have to solve the falling sleeves issue. I will not risk it and will not be using tape, I wanted a permanent solution not some quick fix that would probably fail. I do not want to have to worry about my split straps moving on the day of the wedding. I asked that they offer me a solution.
And this is what Mel came up with.
I also pitched in my proposed solution. And these were the result.
Admittedly, both options of looked awkward.
But, still I don’t want to revert back to the tape solution. So, I insisted on the thick band that was my proposed solution. I went home troubled.
Then proceeded to regret the morning after. Prompting me to email Mel and propose another solution.
Here is my email to her.
And my proposed “fix”.
And if you did read my email you can see that at that time, I wrote that I felt pressured to decide at once. I will have to clarify that one.
It’s true that Mel’s shop is packed every time I go there (I took it as a good sign, since there are a lot of clients); everyone has to wait for their turn, get assisted by the girls (shop assistants of Mel) and a real few minutes to talk with Mel. The last part is kind of a grey area. You see you can be talking to her while she is doing something else-at times talking to other brides, potential clients or assisting another bride. Basically, she is busy most of the time, you are very lucky if you got all her attention. Then again, I can only visit her shop on weekends since I can’t go there on weekdays as I have to work. So, I really have to be patient and wait and also try and maximize my time in the shop. I also cannot blame her if everything is rushed, there are a lot of clients and only one of her so it’s but normal that she cannot really zone in to each and every problem/question/fitting. There are days that are ok, there are days that are frustrating and there is also those days that I come out of her shop almost close to crying.
I have also proven that my hunch was right. This is a photo from my last fitting. Those were freaking pearls. – #pearl
Just breathe deep and carry on. I had to remind myself that.
Then again, due to the nature of a gown designer’s work…it must be imperative that she be hands-on regarding each and every one of her brides’ needs right? After all you only get married once!
Fast forward to the day of the wedding, my dress looked good. A lot have been complimenting my dress.
For me, I liked that it made me look tall. I am also glad that on some pictures, it looks like soft flowing water.
There is also the embellishments that filled out the bodice.
I love my dress. I truly do.
But there is this haunting feeling at the back of my mind that it could have been better, had issues and agreements have been prioritized and more focused communication. After all, you only get to be a bride once; feeling rushed and at times neglected definitely feels downright sad.
Summing it all up.
The dress was okay, they got the job done. I regret the experience.
Mel is sorely lacking in service. It was only the girls in the shop that really made sure that the fittings are comfortable and assisted, thanks and kudos to each one of them. But even if the girls are helping out, it will not replace having the time you get to talk to your designer (about the dress) and your designer explaining the options possible. Having the peace of mind that your designer truly understands what you want. It’s the goal.
But because time was limited and there was also the way everything is rushed and busy at Mel’s shop. It caused me bouts of doubt, anxiety/stress and sadness. That could have been avoided if there were at least a min of 30 mins for focused time for every client, as well as the simple “stick to the plan agreed upon”.
Still, I am thankful to them for making my dress. Not exactly what I wanted but that was it.
Heartbreaking for someone who I had high hopes for. Do I recommend them? If you are Makati based and can really monitor your fittings/requests I’d say go check them out if you like them. If you are not from Makati, you better think about it.
**All my reviews, opinions, and other stuff expressed here are my own and based on my own experience. This is not a sponsored post, Kei paid for the wedding dress from his own pocket.
“At the end of the day people won’t remember what you said or did, they will remember how you made them feel.”― Maya Angelou