Our DIY Wedding Revisited #12: Revamped DIY Wedding Dress



In the spring of 2009, I “married” my husband three times! First we filed the legal paperwork to be married (it’s a very cut and dry ordeal in S. Korea), then we had a traditional Korean wedding ceremony, and lastly, we had a wedding reception in California. This series is dedicated to the last event, which was truly my DIY masterpiece. Nearly every aspect of our travel-themed wedding was a DIY project that I poured my heart into. I hope you enjoy this series of DIY wedding projects!

Today’s project: Revamped DIY Wedding Dress

According to the wedding website, The Knot, the average cost for a wedding dress in 2014 was over $1300. I also personally knew people who spent more than that, especially since they also had to pay for expensive alterations, and in some cases, they even had more than one dress!

I had absolutely no interest in spending so much for a dress that I would only wear once–but the idea of a rental didn’t appeal to me either. Again, my brain kicked into DIY and budget-bride mode, and I realized that restyling a dress myself would be the best way to have an affordable and completely personalized dress.

Now, I’m a big girl–and there are few things more discouraging than shopping for a wedding dress when you’re not a size 2. Also, since I was planning my US reception while in Korea, I had the added challenge of trying to buy something online and all the angst that comes from purchasing clothing without the benefit of trying it on first in a fitting room. Looking at dresses online or in catalogs is also completely frustrating because they only use thin models, and as too many of us are painfully aware, a lot of clothes look FABULOUS on a model, and like a frumpy, lumpy pile of fabric on a “real” human body.

So what is a full-figured girl to do? The answer came to me by chance while I was enjoying some Netflix. I had rented Last Holiday, which features the inimitable Queen Latifah, and she looks stunning in the following beautiful red dress:

I based my wedding dress search by looking at dresses that mimicked the great features of Queen Latifah’s dress: sweetheart neckline, extra fabric draped in the front, and an off-the-shoulder detail.

Luckily, my friend Darlene is the ultimate budget shopper. She always has her eyes open for bargains, and once she knew about my plans, she sent me a link to this deeply discounted Nordstrom online dress:

I definitely saw the potential to change this simple white formal dress into my ideal wedding dress, and at a fraction of the cost of a typical wedding gown. The dress itself was just under $200!

However, when I received the dress, I was not impressed with the rhinestone detail. It was a bit too flashy for my tastes, and up close, it looked a bit tacky and too “prom-dress” for my liking.


I thought about rebeading the gown, and since my wedding colors were yellow and green, and I thought about adding light green accents to my dress to really make it unique. So the first step? Removing the beads!


I then bought a bunch of green and white beads to replace the rhinestones. The original dress design didn’t have any beading extend to the back, but I made sure to extend the beading on the straps all the way to the back for my dress.



Now in my brief foray into dress beading, I have come to one definitive conclusion: NO WONDER BEADED DRESSES ARE SO EXPENSIVE! Oh my word, the amount of labor that goes into this–I worked with tiny, tiny beads–and I basically worked all day for five days to get all the beading done on this dress. Granted, there wasn’t beading all over the dress, but the straps and the area just under the bustline were solidly covered in these tiny beads, so the work seemed pretty endless.


Once the beading was completed, I set about finding the perfect green chiffon scarf so I could add it to the back of my dress. I folded it in half, shaped it into a little pouf, and then attached it to the back:

Things worked out so well with the scarf (after all, it was a super easy, no-sew addition!), that I used another scarf to go about the sleeves. I found a sheer, slightly stretchy scarf that I cut in half, and then used these to create drapey off-the-shoulder “sleeves.”  The sleeves were always a very important feature for me–it’s one of the things I loved most about Queen Latifah’s dress, and given how self-conscious I am about my arms, they helped me feel more comfortable and beautiful in my dress!

Lastly, I wore a strapless lace camisole since the neckline was a lot deeper than I was comfortable with for my wedding day, in front of a bunch of my Korean relatives, no less! I was happy with the overall look:


All in all, I felt like a million bucks in my totally personalized wedding dress, but was thrilled that I accomplished this look for only a couple of hundred dollars!



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