life of a cuddlebit

my random ramblings


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high hopes & heartbreak in white

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.

that red box holds my wedding dress.

the red box that holds my wedding dress.

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.

sketch my dreams

sketch my dreams ( you can click on the picture to enlarge)

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!

left-pardon my "villain" face. middle-yep, Im pretty pleased face. right-the fit was perfect

left-pardon my “villain” face. middle-yep, Im pretty pleased face. right-the fit was near perfect

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. 

all lines and no floral design, I want it timeless

all lines and no floral design, I want it to look modern but at the same time it has to be timeless.

Later on that week, the dress even made it to instagram.

not bad right? I had high hopes!

not bad right? I had high hopes!

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.

the first time I saw my dress with beads

the first time I saw my dress with beads. That would be Kei and Mel holding the dress as I just took a snap. I did not get to fit the dress that day-there were too many people  on the shop. I returned next week. 

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.

just to make it clear

just to make it clear. (click on the picture to enlarge)

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.

here are the girls as they helped me fitting the dress.

here are the girls as they helped me fitting the dress.

Surely you have to give a closer look at the dress.

no more pins!

no more pins!

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.

spot the difference

spot the difference

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.

where have that sparkly gone?

squint my eyes… where have that sparkly gone?

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. 

the only time I went to fit the dress with make-up on. Kind of like playing dress up

the only time I went to fit the dress with make-up on (flowers are props from my shoot)

Again I asked about the missing crystal, as it was still missing.

where art thou?

where art thou?

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.

did you see it?

what is the difference?  did you see it? -Just a close up photo of the dress laid flat in its box.

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.

is it only me or does it look like a bra strap?

is it only me or does it look like a bra strap?

I also pitched in my proposed solution. And these were the result.

make the off sleeve run to the back

make the off shoulder strap run to the back 

Admittedly, both options of looked awkward.

go ahead and choose

go ahead and choose

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.

a desperate call for help

a desperate call for help-the next time I see my dress again will be the week of the wedding, I only have the last fitting left.

And my proposed “fix”.

this was exactly the photo I emailed to her

this is exactly the photo I emailed to her

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

#pearl

Instagram again! and I learned that is really is #pearl – no second guessing. This is proof that what I have on my gown is not opal but pearls. 

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.

the dress in action

the dress in action

For me, I liked that it made me look tall. I am also glad that on some pictures, it looks like soft flowing water.

like soft flowing water

like soft flowing water

There is also the embellishments that filled out the bodice.

beading

beading

I love my dress. I truly do.

I made it again to Mel orlina's instagram, only I was nameless there (I thinks). *All the other brides have names.

Photo taken on the day of the wedding. – oh wow! I made it again to Mel Orlina’s instagram.  I can’t help but notice that I was the only one nameless there . *All the other brides have their names posted along with their picture.

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.

fairRating 2.5 out of 5. Barely made 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

 

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regal in every way

Back when I was in the wedding preparation stage, I had one huge problem.

How was I going to dance when my wedding gown is constricting?!

Obvious Pammy answer: Get a dress made.

My friend from church recommended Aoui Regala.

Yes those are her creations and yes again that is Aoui. (photo taken from her facebook page)

Yes those are her creations and yes again that is Aoui. (photos taken from her facebook page)

Young,fresh and pretty! Ang friendly pa niya. promise. 

I emailed her my peg and waited for a estimate.

Yes, I am aware that both my pegs are black. (left: A dress Carey Mulligan wore, right: A h&m dress) all photos are from the internet

Yes, I am aware that both my pegs are black. (left: A dress Carey Mulligan wore, right: A h&m dress) all photos are from the internet

What I want: a sleeveless bateau top with the high-low hem and the train. In blush pink with a bit of beading. Key words are: Structured and simple-nothing over the top with a bit of sparkle.

I set the date for appointment. But unknown to me, the days leading before the appointment Aoui’s daughter has been admitted at the hospital. And it was still unknown what the cause is.

So she is very worried and has to stay with her daughter at the hospital.

The day before the fitting I texted her to confirm and she told me her situation. I was worried for her (I am praying that it is a minor thing, and that her daughter is okay.) and also a bit worried about myself too-with my rigid 6 days a week work schedule, I don’t have much wiggle room in terms of schedule. (Will the dress be done on time?- I contacted Aoui early November and I need the dress before mid December. It’s a very rush job.)

I volunteered to go to the hospital to get measured, so that she wouldn’t have to leave her daughter’s side. But she refused and told me that she will still go to her atelier.

So after a quick hello she got my measurements in less than fifteen minutes.

After a few days Aoui told me that the cause of her daughter’s admission was respiratory tract infection and acute bronchitis.

Acute bronchitis is a clinical syndrome produced by inflammation of the trachea, bronchi, and bronchioles. In children, acute bronchitis usually occurs in association with viral respiratory tract infection. Acute bronchitis is rarely a primary bacterial infection in otherwise healthy children.- from www. medscape.com

And that her daughter is okay and recovering. I was very much relived to know that all is well. As well as gave me updates on the progress of the dress.

On the next fitting, I got to wear the dress and see the embellishments on the dress!

aoui fitting

I love my dress!

And they just noted the length of the train I wanted. –they gave out an excess of fabric should I want a longer train…they did not scrimp on fabric. Di nila ako tinipid!

left: that would be me talking to Aoui (pixelated the photo as she was in work mode that day) and right: I am probably doing the chicken dance. lols.

left: that would be me talking to Aoui (pixelated the photo as she was in work mode that day) and right: I am probably doing the chicken dance. lols.

They took the time to ask me if I was comfortable, asked me to move around, sit, wave, spin.. etc. to be sure that the fit was perfect. We even chatted for quite a bit! And best of all they did all these even if I was 30 mins late on my appointment.-I think I was the last client of the day. Di nila ako minadali.

At the last fitting, I just hurriedly fit and claimed the dress. I remember it was raining so hard that day and I was late again. They packed my dress in a waterproof garment bag to help us on our way and I was really, really grateful that Aoui and her team thought of that. I got soaked that day but my dress was pristine. Thank heavens.

On the day of the wedding, I did a few “glam” shots with Aoui’s creation. The dress looks beautiful on the photos, and absolutely more stunning in real life.

All these photos are grabbed from Aoui’s Facebook page.

aoui1

Blush Duchess Satin dress by Aoui Regala Atelier / Photo by RealityBox

aoui2

Blush Duchess Satin dress by Aoui Regala Atelier / Photo by RealityBox

aoui3

Blush Duchess Satin dress by Aoui Regala Atelier / Photo by RealityBox

Look at how tiny my waist looks like. Aoui did that magic!

Best of all I did get to dance!

I danced to Ed Sheeran’s- Thinking out loud and Walk the Moon’s- Shut up and Dance that are both not exactly a slow dance type of song! I did all that arm movements and fancy footwork. Best of all I did not feel constrained and worried that I may bust a seam or any unwanted exposure, the fit was perfect.

The only stolen photo of us dancing to thinking out loud.-all the other photos we have right now is blurry.

The only stolen photo of us dancing to thinking out loud.-all the other photos we have right now is blurry.

And after the dance you can just see that I worked up a sweat and beaming a very much relived and glad-I-made-it smile. And yes that’s Matti by my side.

All smiles! I pulled off the dance! (that would be Matti on the left)

All smiles! I pulled off the dance! (that would be Matti on the left)

You have been more than my designer but a friend to me Aoui. Thank you so much.

5outof5Rating 6 out of 5. (exceeded our expectations) The way Aoui treats clients is like being a friend who cares to listen and does what’s best for you, even if it means that she would not profit that much. She is very thorough and meticulous with her dresses and she does not scrimp on fabric or quality! To her, clients are not just a source of income but also a new connection, a new friend. I like that with her you can feel at ease and be sure that you would look regal in every way!

See Aoui’s creations for yourself! here is a link to Aoui Regala Atelier.

*Mention that you are a reader of Pam’s blog to her and she would be sure to help you out. 

 **All my reviews, opinions, and other stuff expressed here are my own and based on my own experience. This is not a sponsored post ,I paid for my reception dress from my own pocket.