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Dream Wedding Gown

Jun 17th

Bride Lavinia in her colorful couture wedding ballgown

Guest Post by Bride Lavinia: When my husband and I began to plan our wedding I really had no idea that it would evolve into the magnificent event that it was. Our goal, from the very beginning, was to utilize as many people within our extensive network of friends and family by using their business and talents to make our wedding at the Conservatory of Flowers in San Francisco the most beautiful day of our lives.

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Photographs graciously provided by Chrissy Lynn, Lovebirds Photography

What I did not know at the time of our engagement was that my mother had a friend in Philadelphia named Janice Martin who designed couture wedding gowns whom she knew from the Acorn Club Women’s Club in Center City. Right from the start of wedding planning my mom said that she made an appointment for us to meet with Janice while I was visiting Philadelphia over Labor Day weekend. I was intrigued that my mother had a friend who made dream gowns, and I was smitten with her work from her website.

One-of-a-kind wedding gown by Janice Martin Couture

Our first meeting with Janice was so much fun, not only because we were discussing wedding gowns, but because Janice is so personable and interesting. All of the gowns in her studio are stunning, and I was in awe of the fabrics, styles, laces, and even lights that she could incorporate into the gown.

The beginning of designing your dream gown can be an overwhelming process and hard to know where to start, Janice has a huge satchel that is filled with fabrics of every type. She wanted to know what felt good to me; what I was drawn to. Pulling all of the fabrics out of the bag was thrilling as she had every type of fabric one could imagine, and laces that were so delicate and beautiful.

Once we had established that I loved the silk taffeta because it had character of it’s own, we started there. Janice gets a great expression on her face when she is deep in creative thought while she is looking at you and you know there is a fabulous idea brewing. She looked at me, then to my mom, and then back at me and she said “how non traditional can we go?” My mother and I looked at each other said at the same time, “very!”

Lavinia & Phil were married at the Conservatory of Flowers in San Francisco

Since Janice and my mom had a budding friendship Janice knew that my mom has a very colorful and creative style, and that fashion has been in our roots as a Philadelphian family. My great Aunt Nan established Nan Duskin, where she brought haute couture to Philadelphia’s Rittenhouse Square. My grandmother, Peggy Tilghman was model for Nan Duskin where she modeled gorgeous gowns for eveningwear and debutante gowns. My grandmother was Philadelphia’s Debutante of the Year in 1945 and she was always a dazzling woman wherever she went throughout the decades that she was alive.

Detail of a turquoise wedding gown with pink button accents

Janice knew that my mother and I would probably be more interested in making a splash rather then staying within the usual bridal color scheme, so she brought out color samples of silk taffeta that were vibrant and amazing, with my two favorite colors jumping out at me right away, pink and turquoise. I was thrilled to know that I could really have a dress of these stunning colors and that the dress would be sculptural and unique. Since I was getting married at the Conservatory of Flowers in San Francisco and because of my love of plants and flowers, we decided to add flowers to the dress, on the bodice as well as the skirt. I wanted them to be asymmetrical and to look as though they were falling down, almost as though they were sprinkled on me.

Over the course of 8 months I really saw Janice about 6-8 times. I scheduled time with her when I was home for the holiday and then again just two weeks before the wedding. Since Janice and Christine, her incredibly talented assistant, made my muslin bodice, they were able to work on it without me being there. On the second meeting, once the turquoise fabric had arrived, Janice began to drape it around me with creative focus. I knew I was in terrific hands and that she would be able to design the best gown for my body. She was able to see my vision and create it, as well as to add her sculptural talents. Each time I would visit Janice’s studio there would be a little more completed each time, adding to my excitement.

Turquoise & hot pink wedding dress

I had no idea in the beginning of my wedding planning process that I would have the opportunity to work with a talented artist such as Janice. I also had no idea that I would have a gown as dramatic as the one she made for me, and that I would have as much fun wearing a princess gown as I did. My wedding was really the best day of my life so far and the gown that I was so lucky to wear was the highlight. Janice is truly an amazing designer and I strongly encourage all brides to use her, as there is nothing more special then a gown that has been created JUST FOR YOU.

My photographs are marvelous and because of the fantastic colors of my dress I was able to pop out in front of the Conservatory of Flowers and the San Francisco fog. Thank you Janice, my mom, my grandmother and Aunt Nan for inspiring, creating, and making my dream gown possible.

Lavinia was married at the Conservatory of Flowers in San Francisco in a couture wedding gown


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