By Jessica Hunter
I have been single for about four years now, more by chance then by choice. If you’d asked me 10 years ago what my future held, it involved a successful career and not a whole lot of talk about marriage. I was mid-relationship with my second serious boyfriend and just assumed marriage would get figured out eventually. As you can tell by my single status, our happily ever after came to an end, and was then followed by another almost but not quite long-term relationship. That being said, none of this bothers me because I realize we had changed and were not right for each other.
It is amazing how true a statement it is that one of the only constants in life is change. For me, even something as simple as a favorite food or color can shift at a moments notice. I was looking at my Pinterest ‘I Do’ board the other day and it was incredible how much my style has evolved since the beginning. When dreaming of my wedding day dresses were flowy and big with lots or embroidery and lace and now they are becoming more simplified and streamlined.
When I met with Jeanne to chat about SJ Couture, one of the most inspiring things she said was that her line is for a bride who has a unique sense of self. Her bride could still get the thrill of wearing her wedding dress long after vows are spoken, and as a brides style evolves so would her take on the dress. I love this concept because it opens up a world of creativity and allows a bride to infuse her personal style into a very special piece for years to come.
I could totally relate to this because there are often items in my closet that I cannot for the life of me figure out how to wear and then one day BOOM, one of my moods and tastes have evolved and an outfit comes together effortlessly. When a person is open to change, though life doesn’t always go according to plan it can sometimes bring along something even better!
Despite the fact that my dating life currently feels like it is straight out of Taylor Swift’s Blank Space video I remain confident that there is someone out there who will change and grow with me. I’m in no rush though. I still have to figure out which one of Jeanne’s dresses will look best with chucks at the Farmer’s Market!
I think that Jeanne should name her next S.J. Couture collection "Crepuscular Rays." Has a nice ring to it, don't you think? It's the scientific term for those sun rays that stream through a break in the clouds or a notch in the horizon line. They are often accompanied, in my mind at least, by a choir of angels singing. I say this because I think I saw crepuscular rays emanating from the box that contained my SJ Couture wedding dress when it arrived on my doorstep in Seattle. And this is coming from someone who thinks that the idea of "THE dress" is hogwash.
Before I started working with Jeanne, I had schlepped in and out of many a bridal boutique, where I (1) was asked wear a surgical mask in the dressing room, (2) had my size 14 body attached to a size 6 sample with potato-chip-bag clips, and (3) was admonished, in a tone that seemed like it should have been reserved for someone about to bet her life savings at the races, that I needed to buy the dress immediately and pay a rush fee or risk generally ruining everything. I had grown weary of this, so I was browsing only online and in department stores where I knew the salespeople would leave me alone. At one such department store, I had to ask for help anyway after becoming stuck in a super-stretchy mermaid-style dress that was supposed to be "excellent for tummy control," but ended up being excellent at controlling all bodily activities, including standing without falling over.
I had my heart set on a vintage (or at least vintage-inspired), not-strapless, tea-length dress, but I was not sure I was going to find it. I searched on eBay and Etsy, and I and even visited a store that specializes in vintage wedding gowns, but nothing fit right. I had almost given up hope and was seriously considering wearing a bedazzled track suit to my wedding when I found S.J. Couture online.
Jeanne makes several beautiful tea-length dresses, and I was excited to find out that she is based in Scottsdale, where my parents live. My mom called Jeanne and talked to her about samples. A few days later, I received four samples that Jeanne had sent Federal Express, beautifully wrapped and topped with a handwritten note. (Did I mention that I had previously been asked to wear a surgical mask while trying on dresses? Oh, you didn't know that "operating room chic" was a major bridal trend in 2013?) I tried the Penelope, Sabrina, Amanda, and Becky designs in the comfort of my own home, with every combination of shoes and Spanx imaginable. I treasure the pictures that I took that day using a dilapidated tripod and the Photo Timer App on my iPhone.
I ended up choosing Penelope because, well, how could you not choose Penelope? She's the perfect combination of elegance and cheer, with lace overlay in an unexpected geometric pattern and sheer organza straps that tie into a great big "Party Time!" bow in the back. I sent Jeanne my measurements from a local tailor. In stark contrast to the bridal-shop admonitions, Jeanne completed the dress ahead of schedule with no rush fee. It fit perfectly right out of the box. I didn't even have to get it hemmed. A few weeks before my Seattle wedding, I decided that I wanted to add a simple ribbon belt for a bit of contrast at the waist. Jeanne whipped up not one but two belts, and I received them with plenty of time to spare.
Best of all, Jeanne went out of her way to include my family in the long-distance dress-buying process. She hand-delivered the dress to my parents' house in Scottsdale so they could see it, and then she shipped the dress to me. She also designed a dress for my mom, who was having trouble finding a mother-of-the-bride dress that was not ruched and/or sequined within an inch of its life. On the big day, Mom felt wonderful in fresh cornflower-blue silk, with flutter sleeves and a graceful tie at the nape of the neck. I am so grateful to Jeanne for that.
I do not believe in "THE dress," but I do believe in my dress. Penelope is beautiful design to begin with, but the experience of working with Jeanne--her pride in her work, her attention to detail, and especially her kindness to my family--made the dress truly special. Jeanne has my highest recommendation
By Jessica Hunter This weekend I had a chat with Jeanne Hankerson of SJ Couture to catch up about everything new in our lives, in passing we chatted about one of her favorite dresses among the collection, Daisy. I don’t know if it was our conversation, the Super Bowl or my recently developed obsession with The Bachelor but it got me thinking about a long-standing tradition in wedding history - the bouquet toss. Never in my life have I seen such a display of determination, desire and just plain despicable behavior as I have during the bouquet toss at a wedding. Elbows flying, dress pulling, tripping… you name it and it’s been done. What is it about a bride’s bouquet that is so special? Just a happily every after for the triumphant wide- receiver who makes the winning play, that’s all. But where did this tradition come from, and how accurate is it? Does the winner of this Hail Mary actually get married next? Turns out, after a little research, I discovered that this tradition hails from ancient England and was designed as an effort to stave off guests who would claw at a brides dress and bouquet because she was believed to be good luck on her wedding day. To save herself (and her beautiful dress!) the bride would toss the bouquet to escape the crowd. During a recent binge of Sex and the City re-runs, I couldn’t help but notice that none of the ladies went for the bouquet at a friend’s wedding and it fell right at their feet. Not even Charlotte went for it! I was even more surprised to read that The Huffington Post and numerous other articles are claiming that the bouquet toss is as ancient as its history. Oh thank heavens! As a single lady nothing is more terrifying than going into a mosh pit full of other single ladies (or even worse, ladies with boyfriends who are looking for their championship ring) and hoping to make that winning catch. Whether you love this tradition or hate it is entirely up to you, but this gal is making a break for some wedding cake instead! Score! * Photography by Katina Patriquin * Model Ashley Luccitti