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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The runaway shoe: My wedding shoes

Kei and I found the shoe months ago, at the store window of Steve Madden in Shangri-La all,  it was sometime in the end of February this year if I am not mistaken. We admired it and I tried it on, It looks pretty on the shelf and even more so when worn.  It is almost close to the ten thousand pesos. I was smitten. Kei liked it too. But we didn’t buy it instantly, because we might see something better for a lower price.

And we came to regret that decision after.

This is the beauty we almost lost.

wedding shoes layout

It is a nude/champagne strappy platform sandal embellished with a lot of crystal rhinestones. I loved that it looks fancy for a photo shoot, and also covers the veins in my feet. It has a platform, so it’s stable and comfy to walk with, and the color of the shoe really goes well with my skin tone.

We vowed to get the shoe after two weeks. So, fast forward to two weeks after, we returned to Shangri-La Mall to purchase the said shoe. But to our dismay the shoe has a huge chocolate stain on the back.

I thought they must have a new stock or, we can order another from them… But we were met with a sad NO from the shopkeepers. Apparently Stores Specialists Inc. only gets some items in a limited quantity to be sold in their “elite” stores, there would be no guarantee that they would get the same shoe, or that you can find the same shoe in their other stores. I was aghast. We offered to pay in advance to order a new one. Still the answer is NO.

I was crestfallen. It is time to move on and look for another shoe.

And so we looked. We found pretty shoes from Badgley Mischka from Sm Aura and Rustans, BCBG Max Azaria at Glorietta and Shangri-La , Nine West at Sm Megamall.

fancy shoes

 

All pretty, on the same price range. But it is not the shoe. My veins on the feet are popping on full display wearing these shoes.

I was planning to find the shoe online and getting it shipped from the US. But it was unfortunately out of stock.

I gave up. I cried about the shoes.

Five months later, we saw the shoe again. This time in Robinson’s Mall Manila! Kei excitedly pointed it out to me and in a daze, we walked toward the store. I hurriedly asked for my size. They have it!

is this real?!

Is this real?! Its the shoe we are looking for! 

While I was trying it on and we confirmed that it was indeed the same shoe we seen/wanted before, Kei proceeded to pay for the shoes. We were met with a pleasant surprise! The exact shoes are now on a lower price, from almost 10 to almost 7. It was a huge difference.

In the end we are thankful that we got the shoe and got it for a lower price. We just did not appreciate the time in between seeing the shoe and getting the shoe.

We celebrated by getting a huge bowl of Mongolian rice after.

Thank you very much Kei. ❤

 

sold

 

 

*All my reviews, opinions, and other stuff expressed here are our own and based on our own experience. This is not a sponsored post. Kei paid for the shoes.

**We conclude that the best place to search for evening/bridal shoes is at Shangri-La Mall as they have a lot of shoe selections.

***As per Chinese tradition the groom to be buys his bride to be the shoes to be used for their wedding. The bride to be then reciprocates the gesture by buying shoes for the mother of the groom to be.

 

 


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rough crystal

I used to have a neighbor who collected rocks. He is older than me by 10 years (I think, I was only 9 back then.) and is named Erwin.

He always has a ready smile, is chubby, with a moody pet iguana.

I am fascinated by his rock collection that he proudly displays on his window. (He believes in crystal healing.) My best friend Joanna and I usually troop to his place to look as his box of rocks, its like a museum trip, he explains what the rocks are, where he got/brought them, the highlight of his collection was a amber with a prehistoric insect in it.

Most of his rocks are quartz crystals, that he gets from caves. They look like these:

rough quartz crystals

rough quartz crystals -photo from pinterest

While I like the crystals, I am fascinated by those that have color. I like the purples and pinks and those that have bright blue colors. I also discovered what geodes are.

Got to know a bunch of stones like ruby, sapphires, amethyst, moonstone, tiger’s eye, hematite, pyrite, opal, jade, turquoise, coral, lapis lazuli, cats eye, spinels, etc.  While we like going to his house to check out his collection, at times he thinks we are a nuisance, after all we stay there for hours, he never got angry at us.

rock collection -photo from etsy

somebody’s rock collection -photo from etsy

One summer day he announced that he was moving out. We were sad. Well not really that sad but sad in a way that we know, there ain’t going to be any looking at the rock collection anymore.

On the day he is going away, he handed out a goodbye present for Joanna and me. He gave us each a rough quartz crystal. Which we kept in a pouch and cleaned with saltwater once in a while. Till we forgot all about it.  And our attention was moved to beading with glass beads till we encountered the glittery Swarovski crystal beads, that we made into our bracelets.

Swarovski crystal beads

Swarovski crystal beads

I loved our crystal bling! Joanna and I went on to creating more shiny crystal bead pieces to wear,  that I seriously thought the crystal Erwin gave us was worthless. It doesn’t shine, it is rough and lets be honest here not as pretty as the polished and faceted crystals. But I kept it because of the sentimental/childhood treasure value. I rarely ever clean it anymore. Its been where I kept it for more than 15 years.

Till I saw a booth on the mall selling crystals. Quarts crystals like the ones Erwin used to collect. Like the crystal I have at home.

They were rough, but the are really shiny, I guess it was cleaned frequently. I stooped down to look at the rocks. The smallest quartz crystal was priced at 3,000+ php. I thought to myself, hey, my crystal is bigger than that…. so it means it is worth more.

Woah! It really was a treasure after all! Even without the flashy bling! Reminding me not to take everything at face value. 

the actual rough crystal that was given to me

the actual rough crystal that was given to me

Sad thing was, we never knew where Erwin went. We did not remember his surname, we cant even find him on facebook.

But really, Kuya Erwin, thank you for the gift and the life lesson. 

 

“There is all the difference in the world between treasure and money.” ― Roderick Townley, The Great Good Thing