Objects of Desire: Custom wedding gowns

  • Photos by Jeff Hinckley
From the April 19, 2012 edition

Most “He Put a Ring on It!” stories are pretty average, but it’s appropriate to call Anya Gugliemotto’s engagement story kind of crazy.

Her fiance, Scott Birrer, proposed while they were visiting San Juan Islands, Washington … while they were in a kayak … while killer whales swam a few feet away.

“Seriously,” Gugliemotto said, laughing. “We were sightseeing the whales in a kayak. He proposed and showed me the ring and then was like, ‘OK, give it back until this is over.’”

(Note: The only time it is fair to keep the ring after proposing is when a thin layer of plastic is all that sits between your beloved’s thigh and a six-ton, carnivorous ocean creature.)

The Columbus couple is getting hitched in June. Their love of unique experiences has played an important role in Gugliemotto’s other big Big Day decision — what to wear.

“I hated dress shopping,” she said. “I don’t think many women realize that they have options when it comes to finding that perfect dress.”

According to a survey of 18,000 American women who got married last year (study by industry heavyweights The Knot and Wedding Channel), the average bride — age 29, by the way — spent $1,100 on her gown.

Paying thousands of dollars for something less than her dream dress seemed, well, also crazy. What Gugliemotto really wanted was a dress made from the material of her mother’s and grandmother’s wedding gowns.

She found her answer in designer Annie Kocher, a 2009 CCAD fashion design alumna.

“It is one of the most exciting processes in which I have ever been involved,” Gugliemotto said. “It’s so unique and special to me. And it’s cool just having something made specifically for your body.”

Kocher sketched four styles that took the lace from Gugliemotto’s mother’s dress and the satin from her grandmother’s and put the styles at different price points. Gugliemotto selected the most expensive — around $800. The mermaid gown will have lace detailing (which Kocher hand-stripped from the original dress and then restructured into a bodice) and a satin underlay.

“I’d recommend giving a designer at least three months in advance to make your dress,” Kocher said. “It’s something brides should consider. This is really exciting as a designer, too, to create my own lace through someone else’s lace, to recycle fabric.”

Trust is key, they agreed. Interview a designer. Always ask for options.

And don’t let the process make you crazy.

Objects of Desire is a biweekly column that explores items Columbus shoppers crave. Follow Jackie Mantey on Twitter at @Jackie_Mantey.