life of a cuddlebit

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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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meet my fairy godmother, Krist!

*So, since I will be catching up on all wedding related posts. Expect the next ten posts (or more) to be about the wedding. 

I’m going to talk about the quest for my HMUA- Hair and make up artist. Warning: text heavy with a lot of pictures at the end ok?! 

Being the obsessive compulsive girl that I am, I pored over thick stacks of wedding magazines (namely Wedding Essentials, I have been reading since 2013) and appreciated the works of this one HMUA (that is Krist Bansuelo). But I believed that it would be out of my budget to get Krist, beacuse for one, I am not a celebrity (most of his clients are), Krist is one of the most sought after makeup artists in the Philippines (top notch) and I don’t have the funds (or so I thought).

this was taken from Krist's instagram. I wasnt kidding when I tell you that Krist does celebrities

 I wasn’t kidding when I tell you that Krist does celebrities. That is Toni Gonzaga (on her wedding day) in the top left! and the bottom right with the heart icon would be yours truly. (taken from Krist’s instagram account.) 

Again, I scoured the internet to look for a HMUA that I think is within my budget and does the look I want. *I wanted bigger dramatic eyes as I am Chinese, and that natural glowing skin. I preferred someone who understands small eyes, and what better than to find a HMUA with eyes like mine too?! So I looked for a Chinese HMUA and promptly found one that I will hide (in an initial) Miss C. So, I asked for her rates and contact details via facebook (where I found her along with photos of her dramatic before and after transform-ative magic). I thought her rates is quite steep but if she delivers why not?! I wanted to book her asap.

Miss C. Doesn’t want to accept my reservation saying that I was too early. (It was mid 2014, I was booking for 2015) She had a point. And told me that I get back at her again by early January 2015 as she was busy with a beauty pageant that time. So, January 2015 rolled around… Again I messaged her (this was as early as January 2) to save my date and asked for her bank details so I can make a reservation. I got a curt reply from Miss C saying she was already booked and  if I still wanted to avail of her services, she would double book me with the other bride but I cannot pick my schedule, I will be made up by 5am so that she can still go to the other bride’s preps. My wedding is 3pm if I did get my makeup done by 5am, most of the makeup would have faded off by 3pm. That leaves me with no choice but to decline. I told all my friends about what happened and we sort of had a theory that she was picking clients based on financial ability. (pera, pera lang ang labanan.) It is the moneyed one that she will cater to. *want to know who this Miss C. is?! leave me a private message.*

Feeling thrown off from the planning and hopelessly lost, as most of the top wedding HMUAs are booked a year in advance! Then I cried (buckets at that) and humbly asked for help from my friends. They told me to go for my top pick (which is Krist) who knows maybe it is the one for me. That was the time I had the guts to actually message Krist and ask for the wedding rates offered.

I got a reply within minutes and also a condition. Krist will only agree to be my makeup artist if and only if I go for a (paid) trial makeup session. To which I agreed immediately! Because it is only logical and practical to see and experience the HMUA’s work before committing to a agreement. I also thank God that Krist has no commitments on my wedding day as schedule can be quite a difficult problem to solve.

Krist gave out a reasonable quote. (I was shocked to know that I can actually get Krist to be my HMUA!) And there was no air of haughtiness or pretensions just a simple, professional and honest response when we got to talk to Krist on the phone. So, I explained to Krist that I will be using the trial session for my prenup or pre-wedding photoshoot. To which Krist agreed and we set the date for the trial and a pencil booking of my wedding date.

So my prenup date came and off I went to see Krist. In my excitement I came quite early and Krist had just woken up, but still friendly and professional. I calmed down and all the unease left me in an instant with his jokes and encouraging words. I was even given lemonade! 

here I am in Krist's make up chair!

here I am in Krist’s make up chair! I have butterflies in my tummy so pardon the face. 

After a few strokes of the brush and some curling iron magic later…

feeling gorgeous all thanks to my glam team!

sitting still while feeling gorgeous is hard work! I want to flash a huge smile! 

et viola! Just the look that I was going for!

pretty? achieved! All thanks to my glam team!

pretty? achieved! All thanks to my glam team!

Surely you also have to see the some of the close up shots from our prenup/prewedding photos to better appreciate Krist’s work.

The make up made my skin look real smooth.

The make up made my skin look real smooth.  (One of the shots taken indoor) – Credits to Reality Box

Outdoor shot

Still looking good! (one of the outdoor shot) – Credits to Reality Box

Safe to say our prenup/prewedding shoot went really well. (See the pictures in this post.) Thanks to Krist for the brilliant makeup!

It is a sealed deal, Krist will be doing my wedding makeup and I felt glad. I have one awesome HMUA! A kind one at that.

On the day of the wedding, it was pouring. I was very much nervous and also a bit sad. There would be no outdoor photos, what if the streets are flooded?, maybe my suppliers will be late, my guests would have probably stayed at home… and all those negative thoughts associated with the “close to stormy” weather.

*I was told that rain in wedding is a blessing, over and over by a lot of different people. Not really sure if they just say that as mock consolation offered as a temporary relief, or there is such a thing. Any thoughts on this? 

and the magic begins!

and the magic begins! – credits to RealityBox

But Krist arrived early! We chatted for a bit (they calmed me down by getting me to laugh) and got down to business. Krist gave me the dramatic eyes I requested and the glam team thought it was best to make my hair in a side-swept bun (due to the weather *sighs*) insted of our original idea of a side-swept ponytail (the damp weather would make the hair limp).

a close look at my make-up! (I am wearing my alternative to the bath robe here!)

a close look at my make-up! (I am wearing my teal alternative to the bath robe here!)

so here is the result of Krist’s transformative magic! A better look at my hair. Hair by Rikka Villarey.

Look at my hair!

Look at my hair!

There are stubborn locks of hair that kept peeking out from the pins, and the glam team patiently kept on tucking the strands again and again to create a neat bun. Krist and the team assisted me all throughout! -from the getting ready pictures up until I am ready to leave the hotel. I am grateful for the time they gave me, they stayed way past the time I paid for. Stellar service. 

Here is how I look like all made up!

Yes Krist posted a photo of me on instagram. I feel like a celebrity! squeals!

Yes, Krist posted a photo of me on instagram. I feel like a celebrity! squeals!

And here is another photo from Krist that shows my hair bun!

the look from the back

neatly tucked hair and the look from the back (photo from Krist’s instagram)

And up until the time I am to leave the hotel to go to church, Krist was there by my side.

"the make up can withstand crying"- Krist says.

the final touch and off I go. 

My make up can withstand crying. Krist said as I prepare to leave.

I told Krist: “Ganda ng makeup ko, hindi ako iiyak, sayang ang ganda ko!” My makeup is gorgeous, I will not cry lest it be ruined, I will not waste it.Strong statement, but that was before I left.

*I did cry. And yes, my makeup stayed put. 

And the veil was put on and off I go. Leaving you with the parting shot from the hotel.

ready for my closeup!

ready for my closeup!

Looking back I can say, the experience was magical.

Thanks Krist. You are a blessing to us. 

 

5outof5

I give Krist 5 out of 5! – I strongly recommend Krist to brides-to-be. Excellent service, experienced, friendly and professional. It is easy to see why Krist is one of the most sought after makeup artists in the Philippines.

*Oh a quick note: Krist only does traditional make-up.

I also asked about the why? Here is the answer: Airbrush makeup application (when gone wrong) leaves streaks and smears. It is also too thin (because it has air and water) to be used as a foundation for acne, scarring, fine lines, wrinkles, or dry skin. It is so fine, it only works best on almost perfect skin. Airbrush makeup is never to be applied heavily. On the other hand Traditional foundation is more opaque, and has a richer coverage. It is more precise and detailed because it gives the artist control over the final outcome. 

**All my reviews, opinions, and other stuff expressed here are our own and based on our own experience. This is not a sponsored post, we paid for the make up services from our own pocket.