Kendra is a woman of strong convictions. She is a dedicated friend, a loyal daughter and an excellent physician. Nothing stands in her way. When she sets a goal, she reaches it. So it's only fitting that she met Aaron, her fiance, while hiking an arduous stretch of the Appalachian Trail, a pilgrimage she had dreamed of taking since she was a young girl.
Her pack was weighing heavy, despite culling all unnecessary items the previous night when she allowed herself the rare luxury of staying a motel with a real shower. But she was feeling buoyant and ready for the next hundred miles. While looking down at a snag in her shoelace, she walked directly into Aaron, who was teetering to and fro from his own overburdened pack. She’s not sure how she didn’t hear him coming from miles down the trail because when they both hit the ground she realized, he had about eight pots and pans hanging from his hip that clattered and clanged on the way down.
“Crap,” he said staring up at the trees looming overhead, swaying as if they were laughing at the sight of the two of them, sprawled on the packed dirt trail. “I’m an idiot.”
“I’ll say,” she said massaging her head.
Ahh, romantic first words. It will come as no surprise, of course, that it was not love at first sight.
Both got up, dusted off and after muted apology, made their way back on the trail. But when Aaron started walking in the opposite direction, Kendra began to wonder if he was feeling okay. The trail, of course, can be hiked North to South just as well as South to North, but most people started in Georgia and made their way to Maine, to the top of Mount Katahdin and the trail’s end. But Aaron was tottering down the path in southerly direction. She had a hunch that he wasn’t going the right way.
Kendra brushed it off and continued along the trail. A few days later, however, and a hundred or so miles down the path, she heard a familiar sound - a clatter and clang coming from behind. When she turned around about ten minutes later, as the noise was getting closer and closer, her suspicions were confirmed. Aaron was making his way toward her, looking exhausted and still swaying a bit.
He waved. She faced forward, rolled her eyes, took in a deep breath and stopped on the trail to let him catch up.
When he got to her he was looking sheepish. “Oh,” he said. “You’re the one I knocked over the other day, huh?”
Eloquent as always, she thought to herself. “Yeah,” she said. “Quite the impression.”
“Sorry about that,” he said.
“Let me look at your eyes,” Kendra said and took a step toward him, holding his head slightly back.
“This is a strange way to flirt,” he said and laughed nervously. “But seriously, what are you doing?”
“I’m a doctor,” she said. “I’m checking for signs of concussion. You started walking the wrong direction right after you fell.”
“Oh yeah,” he said. “That’s not a concussion, I just suck at this.”
“I can tell,” she said and glanced down at his cookery.
He looked down too. “Oh crap,” he said. “That’s loud isn’t it?”
She nodded. “Listen,” she said. “I have an extra tarp. Why don’t you borrow it and then you can throw away the tent in your pack.”
“How do you know I have a tent?”
“You clearly have too much stuff in there and I can tell you packed all wrong ,” Kendra said, but she was starting to smile. And so was Aaron.
For the next hundred or more miles, Kendra showed Aaron the ropes, learned that he was hiking for his Dad who had always wanted to go on this trip but had passed away a few months before, and began to fall in love. Aaron had fallen about 30 minutes after they started hiking together.
Fast forward a year-and-a-half. Aaron moved to Boston to live closer to Kendra and the two of them hiked every weekend. But one weekend, Aaron brought a ring and Kendra said yes.
The wedding had to be outside, in the woods. It was the perfect testament to their fated meeting. But, Kendra was having a hard time finding the perfect dress. One that fit her style and made her feel like she was walking on air. She wanted her wedding day to feel like home.
So, after months of searching, when she walked into the SJ Couture studio and started looking through the gowns, she got a flutter. She felt like home. She knew she’d find “the one” here. Then, when she was handed a gown to try that had the perfect mix of grace and style; a princess skirt and a dotted Swiss lace – she got a rush.
“The dress is called Kendra,” she was told. Then her head felt light and dizzy, the same way she felt after Aaron barged (literally) into her life. It was the perfect match, just like them.
“This,” she said. “This is the one.”
So when they danced into the sunset, she knew that the stars had aligned and she looked down at their hiking boots in formal attire and smiled. Aaron caught her eye and kissed her. Happily ever after.
Dean had two left feet. That was the real irony of Lulu and Dean's romance. Lulu, a classically trained ballet dancer, always proclaimed that she'd marry a man who could sweep her off her feet. Literally. In a manner of speaking, Dean did just that when, rounding the corner at their shared local grocer's, he bumped directly into Lulu and sent her and her basket of fruits and veggies, flying. She landed in one spot and her produce in another.
She gasped, stood up, brushed herself off and did a releve to make sure she wasn't injured. She had a performance of Swan Lake tomorrow and she was the principal.
When she looked up from her grocery-store dance move, orange rolling toward her perfectly pointed toes, she saw Dean. He bit his lip and looked at her in awe. It was love at first sight for him, but not quite reciprocated.
"Do you have any idea how risky that was?" Lulu shouted with a sigh. Her mixed emotions of relief and disbelief at the nerve of this man were swirling around both of them. Then Dean's heart started to swell and the atmosphere was thick with anticipation.
What could Dean say that would be the perfect response of apology and sincerity to help ease her anger and convince her that he was a nice guy.
"I'm so sorry," he settled on and started darting around the store gathering her runaway produce.
Now you might think that he fell in love with her eyes or her smile. You might think her jet black hair, pulled up into a perfect bun was what enchanted him. But the truth? The truth is, when she stood up and tested her limbs, his stomach twisted and his breath caught in his throat. Her strength. Her clear dedication and commitment. He didn't know how he knew - but she was someone he already looked up to. Her determination and will alone could carry his heart for miles.
That's why he barely noticed when she stalked off after he put all the items back in her basket with profuse apology. That night, he bought a ticket to Swan Lake and planned to apologize one more time.
When he watched her perform, all of his instincts were confirmed. She was strong, commanding and stole the show with her confidence. And when he went backstage to introduce himself, instead of carrying a bouquet of flowers, he brought her a biography of Tchaikovsky, a copy of Proust's Swan's Way and an orange. And while for him it was love at first sight, for her it was love at second.
Their romance was never whirlwind. It was slow and steady, like her practice. It was purposeful and thoughtful. She had a dream to live out and Dean was just happy to witness it. His love and support over the years proved to Lulu that he was her rock. He was her biggest supporter. That's why, five years later, when they were shopping at that same grocer's and Dean playfully upended her basket of produce, her annoyance turned to pure joy when she saw him get down on one knee, pick up and orange and pull out a ring. What could her answer be other than, "Yes. Always. Yes."
All these memories flashed before her while she stood in the studio of SJ Couture bridal and stared at herself in THE dress. The perfect dress. It was the one that she felt most at home in. The one that she knew would feel most like herself in. She twirled in her tulle in front of the mirror and said, "Let's start this new dance."
And when they played the first song at the reception, Lulu was swept off her feet. Literally. When Dean lifted her in a Penche during a Pas de Deux. All this time, he'd been taking lessons.
"Thank you," she whispered in his ear.
"Thank you," he said. "For being my best friend, my inspiration and my role model. Your strength inspires me."
Then, they danced into the night.
Piper and Sam’s story begins in the most Rockwellian, meet-cute fashion. Just picture a windswept summer day on the coast of Maine. Girl finds prime spot on the beach, umbrella set, book in hand, waves and happy children’s laughter setting the soothing background tones, when a strong, gust of wind first dislodges her umbrella and then absconds with her bright blue, wide-brimmed sun hat. So there she goes, galloping down the beach after her hat. The hat she bought on a trip to visit her sister in Paris. THE hat. She will not lose this hat the first day she wears it – and certainly not to the icy clutches of the Atlantic Ocean. So she runs. She runs while hoping her umbrella hasn’t tumbled down the beach, stabbing sunbathers in the eye. And in her momentary reverie, she realizes she doesn’t see the hat anymore. She continues to run down the water line, but no blue hat in sight. She looks out across the bright, sparkling sea. Nothing. But as she turns around, defeat glistening in the tears welling up in her eyes, she smacks right into Sam. Holding her hat. Smiling.
“Is this yours?” he asks.
“Oh my gosh, yes!” she cries. (Literally.) “Thank you! I thought it was… well… gone.”
“It landed right on top of my book and as soon as I looked up, I saw you running down the beach, so I figured it might belong to you. Glad to help,” he said.
“Oh,” she said. “What are you reading?”
And that’s how their whirlwind romance began. One beach-going, book lover meeting another. After one month, they met parents and after two months, they took their first vacation – to Paris where she bought another hat. After six months, Sam was down on one knee, at that very same beach in Maine, asking for her hand in marriage. She got down on her knee with him and said, “Wherever you go, so do I.”
The wedding planning was a pure joy. In keeping with their desire to keep everything low-stress, they decided to have a small, intimate wedding with just their closest friends and family. The decorations were set – rustic chic, with a twist of literary.
The flowers were picked – fresh from a local field of wildflowers.
And the menu was delicious, with desserts by her sister, a Parisian pastry chef.
But Piper still hadn’t quite found the right dress for the occasion. She wanted something that made her feel like she wanted to dance all night long. She wanted something that made her feel like she was attending a ball, but she also wanted to be comfy and feel herself. All the gowns she tried on were too constricting, itchy or cumbersome, until she found SJ Couture.
She met with the designer and was invited into her studio to try on all the gowns she offered in her collection, and what she noticed stood out among these gowns was that they were so comfortable. She felt like herself in them. Then she tried on THE one. The dress. A smooth, cashmere tank shell coupled with a silk, princess skirt. Two pieces that fit her style and comfort, but also made her feel like she was attending a ball. Check and check.
When the big day came, and Sam stood at the top of the aisle, she knew this was forever. When she met him in front of the officiant and grasped his hands, he whispered to her, “You’re my girl in the blue hat. I thank god everyday for that hat. It brought me to my future. To you.”
Tears welled up in both their eyes and as the ceremony went on, there wasn’t a dry eye in the audience.
Lucy and Peter met on the first day of Freshman year. He asked her to borrow a pencil in their French class, and from that moment on, Lucy was smitten. It took Peter awhile to work up the courage to ask Lucy to the winter formal dance, but when he finally did, she said yes.
Fast forward ten years, and Lucy was still just as smitten with Peter as the moment she first met him. They shared a fun history together all through high school, and even though they attended separate colleges, their relationship stayed strong and as passionate as ever.
One night, as they were getting ready to head out of town for a weekend getaway, Peter got down on knee and asked Lucy to be his wife. She quickly agreed and they spent the rest of the weekend reliving the past ten years together, and sharing their excitement for the years to come.
As soon as they got back into town, the young couple started wedding planning. They tasted cakes, visited venues, selected their music, and even practiced their first dance. Peter helped Lucy take care of every detail of the wedding, but the only thing she wouldn’t let him help with was the dress. Unfortunately, Lucy felt like the search for the dress was the hardest part of the planning so far. She looked through dozens of wedding magazines, attended trade shows, and browsed Pinterest for hours a day for inspiration. One day, while browsing the discovery section on Instagram, Lucy found an incredible wedding dress designer, SJ Couture.
The dresses by SJ Couture were unlike anything she had seen anywhere else in her search and gave Lucy hope that she could find a dress that really suited her for her big day. She called the designer and made an appointment to come by her studio. The second Lucy walked in, she saw the dress that she knew was going to wear on her big day.
The night before the wedding, at the rehearsal dinner, Peter and Lucy took a moment to themselves before the big day. Peter told Lucy how happy he was that she had been the girl sitting in front of him in French class all those years earlier. Lucy melted into Peter’s arms and stole a quick kiss before her bridesmaids whisked her away.
On the day of the wedding, Lucy felt more beautiful than ever before. She couldn’t wait to see Peter and to share their vows they had written themselves. As she walked down the aisle with family and friends surrounding her, she couldn’t help but smile at Peter’s boyish grin – the one she had fallen in love with so many years ago.
We are so thrilled to be a part of this gorgeous shoot and show our enthusiasm and support for every kind of wedding and every kind of love! The beautiful women, Celeste and Karine, were a joy to work with and wish wish them the best as they await the arrival of their new baby! Two moms for the win! <3 Check out the feature on The Huffington Post.
Special thanks to the team:
Risa Kostis of Ristyle Consulting
Kenny Lange of WayLA Creative
What do you get when you put two gritty gals together to brainstorm new fall collaborations? Some pretty awesome, utterly romantic and absolutely original ideas. We love meeting with one of our favorite people, the amazingly creative Lindsay Viker of Couture in the Suburbs. Lindsay creates the unique and thoughtful narratives that go along with our gowns. We love how she has brought our dresses to life by telling their romantic stories.
So when we met at Olive & Ivy Marketplace, a great place to grab a coffee and talk business with so many yummy choices, we had all the fuel we needed to keep the brainstorming on point. Stay tuned for more narratives and to hear the stories of all our original gowns... and maybe another surprise too!
So, we are trying something new here at SJ Couture, and we are pretty excited about it. Being a wedding designer and running a business is a lot of work - but the great thing is that it's FUN work. We want to give you guys a behind the scenes look at how we do what we do! So first up - we wanted to share our prep for the upcoming Marry Mart, which is being held on Monday, September 5 at The Vintage 45 in Downtown Phoenix.
The Marry Mart is an even where soon-to-be married couples can scope out the bridal scene. The event will showcase the best local artists and craftsmen + an array of photographers, videographers, hair stylists, makeup artists, and bake shops bringing the finest handcrafted goods, cakes, invitations, gowns, services, & flowers in Arizona. And we are so excited to showcase our gowns and be a part of it!
Yesterday, in preparation for the Big Event, Marry Mart vendors and staff met at one of our favorite Downtown Phoenix locations, DeSoto Central Market, for an info packed session, and got us even more excited to be a part of this new event for brides in AZ! See you there!
And stay tuned for more updates in our 'Day in the Life' blog series where we share a sneak peek into the local entrepreneurial group Bosses Who Brunch...
Violet was crushed after her break up with Tony… she thought for sure he was the one after three beautiful years together. Her friends insisted she keep herself busy to move on, so she started taking up hobbies here and there. One day, she walked into a pottery class. It was something she had always wanted to try, but never felt brave enough to actually do.
Ryder, the instructor of the class, welcomed her in right away and made her feel totally comfortable and capable. He worked with his students to empower them, not make them feel like beginners. Pottery class became a little escape for Violet… she didn’t think about work, or Tony, at all during those two hours, just the feeling of the clay molding around her hands.
Maybe she had been oblivious to the signs because she was so caught up in the work she was doing, but when Ryder asked her out for coffee one day after class, she was completely thrown off guard. She hesitantly agreed, even though Ryder was four years younger than she, and not her usual type at all. As they sipped on their cappuccinos, she realized how much she enjoyed Ryder’s company. They were as different as could be. Violet worked in corporate finance, and Ryder worked with small art shops and local high school art programs. Violet was an only child, and Ryder had four other siblings. The one thing they did seem to agree on was their love for pottery. And that was enough for Violet in the moment.
Their coffee dates became more and more regular, and slowly turned into dinner dates, and afternoons in the park. One day, Ryder asked Violet to attend his brother’s wedding with him and meet his family. Violet was nervous. She hadn’t planned to get serious with anyone so soon after her breakup with Tony, but she did really enjoy spending time with Ryder. She agreed to go to the wedding and the big smile that broke out on Tony’s face was all the reassurance she needed.
The day of the wedding arrived and Violet was as nervous as could be. But, the second she stepped into the chapel on Ryder’s arm, all her nerves disappeared. Ryder’s mom wrapped her up in a big hug, his sisters gave her a cheerful smile, and the nieces and nephews fought over who could sit next to her during the ceremony. She instantly felt more comfortable and relaxed. Later that evening, on the dance floor, Ryder whispered to Violet that he loved her. Violet choked back tears as she whispered back, “I love you too.”
The days flew by when Ryder and Violet were together, and before she knew it, it was their one-year anniversary. Ryder took Violet back to the coffee shop where they had first sipped cappuccinos together, and much to her surprise, the shop was filled with their friends and family. Ryder pulled her close, got down on one knee and asked Violet to be his wife. She didn’t hesitate at all as she said yes and fell into his arms.
The wedding planning began and Violet enjoyed selecting all the details from the flowers (violets of course), to the caterer, to the venue. Everything was working out perfectly except for the dress… she couldn’t seem to find a dress that was exactly what she wanted. All of the wedding gown shops her friends had went to seemed to look the same, and Violet wanted a dress that was as unique and unexpected as her romance with her pottery teacher.
One day, while Violet was talking to Ryder about the wedding details, he asked about the dress. She explained her dilemma, and Ryder gave her the name of a beautiful local wedding dress designer, SJ Couture. He told her how he had met the lead designer at several art events in town and really loved the unique aesthetic of the brand.
Violet made an appointment at the SJ Couture studio and immediately fell in love. Every dress was more stunning than the last. After trying on a few gowns, Violet found the one that was absolutely perfect for her wedding. Now, with the dress selected, she was even more excited for her big day.
On the day of the wedding, with all the details perfectly in place, Violet took a quiet moment with her mom before she stepped out in front of the crowd. “Darling, you are absolutely beautiful, and you are about to marry the only person who is capable of loving you as much as your father and I do. We couldn’t be happier.” Violet hugged her mom close, and got ready to step out in front of her soon to be husband.
All the nerves disappeared, and a huge smile broke out on Violet’s face when she finally saw Ryder. Her groom’s eyes filled with tears as she made her way down the aisle. Standing in front of their family and friends, they made a promise to love each other forever, and for Violet, it was a promise she couldn’t wait to keep.
Story by Lindsay Viker, Editor-in-Chief of CoutureintheSuburbs.com
Fictional story. Any resemblance to real life events is purely coincidence.
There's no place like the West Coast in the summertime and SJ Couture had the pleasure of working with some of our Cali favorites in this fun, whimsical styled shoot that we are so excited to share with you!
Many thanks and props to Ellie Koleen Photography, stylist Kimberly Joy Rocca, Brown Bunny Flowers, and our beloved Madeleine's Bridal Boutique, who arranged this gorgeous shoot and where you can find our gowns in Clovis, CA.
Paige and Sean’s love story is one that was never really complicated. They met in their college economics class when Sean leaned over one day and whispered, “Do you understand any of this?” Paige smiled and offered to help him with the assignment. After that, they started sitting together every day in class. Then one day, when they were at a coffee shop studying for a test, Sean leaned over and kissed Paige. They’ve been together ever since.
To Paige, being with Sean felt as natural as breathing. When Sean asked Paige to marry him, it was as easy to say yes as the day he asked her a question in class.
Paige and Sean wanted their wedding to be as simple as their relationship – just a few close friends and family members having a good time. They decided to host the event at Sean’s parent’s cabin up north. They had so many happy memories there, and the outdoor space was just big enough to set up a simple wedding venue.
They started to plan the details of the wedding, focused on their guests’ experience more than the type of flowers, or a color scheme. Sean was excited to serve gourmet hot dogs and hamburgers, and Paige was thrilled about the games of corn hole and oversized Jenga that would be placed around the area.
The only detail that was stressing Paige out was her dress. Every wedding dress shop she tried had frilly princess dresses that would be over the top at her backyard wedding. She knew she wanted something simple, yet special. Paige finally found SJ Couture while doing some online research, and felt a huge weight lifted off her shoulders. She made an appointment to visit the SJ Couture studio as soon as possible… after all, her wedding date was getting closer and closer.
During the fitting, Paige struggled to choose between all the dress options. They all seemed to fit her personal style, and the theme of her wedding perfectly. Then, the woman helping her pulled out one dress that was so special, Paige knew it was hers before even trying it on. When she slipped into the dress and looked at herself in the mirror, Paige knew for sure this was what she was going to wear to marry Sean.
Fast forward a few weeks to the day of the wedding, and Paige was buzzing with excitement. She couldn’t wait to show Sean the dress she chose. Sean was just as excited, and couldn’t even stand still while his mother attached his boutonniere.
Paige and Sean decided to do a “first look” before they met their guests. They wanted a quiet moment between the two of them before their vows. As Paige walked out to the grassy area, Sean’s eyes filled with tears. They said a few quiet words, took some photos, and then went on to start the ceremony.
As the wedding entrance song played, and Paige stepped forward, she heard an audible gasp from her guests. Paige smiled to herself because she knew she had chosen a wedding gown unlike anything her friends and family had seen before. The tears welling up in everyone’s eyes as she walked down the aisle reaffirmed her decision to keep her wedding simple and sweet, just like her relationship with her new husband, Sean.
Story by Lindsay Viker, Editor-in-Chief of CoutureintheSuburbs.com
Fictional story. Any resemblance to real life events is purely coincidental