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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Searching for the wedding gown: We found our gown designer

This is the continuation of  Searching for the wedding gown: Thoughts on the dress

We are scheduled at three o’clock. Says Kei who just got a reply from the designer.

Great, we can go eat lunch before meeting her. That was our plan.

So, lunch is served. We dined at Mitsuyado Sei-Men. Where we got our usual.

lunch

A large three cheese tsukemen, one order of gyoza, and black pepper chicken

Once done with lunch, we headed over to her shop. We arrived quite early. Excited much!  

look up!

look up!

It is located at the second floor of Dona Consolacion Building.

mel orlina building

Going up, we are greeted by this.

Mel Orlina shop

We arrived at her shop in a very busy time. There were a lot of brides to be along with their families who are in the process of fitting their gowns. The place was packed.  

We just spent the time looking at other people’s gowns, and also the trinkets displayed in her shop. Apparently they have a consignment deal with Jacatel.  So they carry accessories too!  Convenient! (I already have my eye one of the earrings!)

beautiful!

I find this beautiful!

One by one the people left and it was now our turn.

We get to see a tired but still smiling Mel Orlina. I told her what I wanted a mermaid gown with appliqués/beaded, with a dramatic skirt, low back, colored petticoat, then showed her my pegs. She then rummaged through her stash of fabrics and lace and brought out a bag of appliqués similar to my peg.

 

Then Mel sketched her vision of the gown keeping in mind my preferences. Then voiced out her reasons on why she designed the sketch that way. The sketch looked modern and feminine. I liked it!

This designer got Kei smiling at the sketch, schedule and price.

This designer got Kei smiling at the sketch, schedule and price.

She also guaranteed to us that should I have a change of heart on the design, she will be willing to change the design for me!

We also find her price reasonable. (below 100k)

 

I knew our search is over.

We instantly felt at ease. We liked her.

Kei booked her on the spot.

* I do a happy dance*

After we wrote down our names on her schedule, we found out that she is almost fully booked for 2015. Whoa, that fast?!

*Lucky for us!* 

See more of her creations here.

 

Mel Orlina Couture

Address: 2nd floor (unit 201), Dona Consolacion Bldg., 122 Jupiter St., Bel-Air Village, 1209 Makati

Phone: 7520312

Email: melorlinacouture@gmail.com

Office hours: Mon – Sat: 10:30 am – 7:30 pm

 

*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 this (from) his own pocket. 

**Start planning early. You get to pick the suppliers you like, rather than having to look for your second choice.

 


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Searching for the wedding gown: Thoughts on the dress

After all the RTW dress fittings, I am seriously overwhelmed and a bit disappointed that none of them felt like the one. I am not saying yes to the dress for reasons: too expensive, too plain, doesn’t feel like it is me….etc.

I kept all the pictures and showed them to my grandma (this is the grandma who loves pearls). Wearing her glasses, she looked at all the photos together with my most fashion forward Aunt. They smiled nervously as I told them that was all. My grandma said; dear, you must find something dramatic. Your Grandma wants to dress fabulously.

My Aunt said, the dresses you made us look at is rather plain. I am afraid; we don’t find it beautiful enough for the occasion. *I am the first grandchild to be married.*

By this time, my mind is spinning. They wanted a fabulous dress, but we have a budget! What will Kei say?

I also wanted my dress to be beautiful, and that it would be fit to my personality and feels like “me”.

Choosing your gown? here is a guide. Click on the image to enlarge. photo taken from pinterest.

Choosing your gown? here is a guide. (Click on the image to enlarge,  photo taken from pinterest.)

 

All I know is, I want a mermaid gown, appliquéd/beaded, in ivory, with a dramatic skirt and beautiful low back, plus a colored petticoat underneath.

One thing is for sure, I need to find pegs then, we need to find a designer. Most importantly, both of us must also agree on the design and designer.

And we need to book one fast! Because here in The Philippines, if you want the wedding industry’s best you have to act fast, as their slots are usually full a year before your wedding date.

I hurriedly called and set an appointment at my cousin’s wedding gown designer. (Their wedding took place 5 years ago.)  He is well known, and awarded as one of the best. On the said date, bringing Kei along with me, we went to his atelier. We got lost, and that got the designer mad at us. I think we may have encountered him in one of his bad mood days. He was stern and very quiet.

I showed him a sketch/peg I made, and he was actually amazed that I can draw. Then he proceeded to sketch what he thinks will flatter my figure. Kei and I liked his sketch very much. He still has slots for 2015 brides.

But the price nearly knocked us off our seats. He is asking for 200k. Only 1 wedding dress. This is not a package price. Apparently, designers’ prices can shoot up that much in a span of five years. Duh.

It was a NO. That amount of money is too much to just check off one item off the list.

Di sulit. (Fliipino term for: Not worth it.)

 

We need to look for another designer. A good one, without the outrageous price, that could make my dress.

That led us to looking at another designer whose facebook page is always updated with photos of her beaming clients/brides. Kei thought her works are nice, and I really googled about her price range. Seems reasonable than the first. We called her up and scheduled an appointment.

By that time, she was away on Singapore. We will see her once she comes back.

Again I brought out my pegs/sketches. She then rummaged through her stash of fabrics and lace and brought out a fabric similar to my peg. Then she sketched for me. Then voiced out her reasons on why she designed the sketch that way. We instantly felt at ease. We liked her.

She is almost fully booked for 2015. Whoa, that fast?!

Asked about the price, it is below 100k. Value for money.

We smiled. I think we found our gown designer.

 

 

*All my reviews, opinions, and other stuff expressed here are our own and based on our own experience.

**Start planning early. You get to pick the suppliers you like, rather than having to look for your second choice.