Hi! I'm Sarah Kolis, a custom couture wedding dress designer based in Michigan but serving the whole midwest. I love creating custom gowns and alterations for clients and I have a special love for vintage fashion. Thanks for stopping by!
I do love this movie! However, this story ends a bit differently; spoiler alert- nobody is stealing anybody’s fiancé, I promise! My best friend and I met in 7th grade, she introduced herself during lunch hour and I knew quite quickly we would become great friends. We then spent 6 years on the Novi Cheerleading team together filled with great laughs at countless football games and competitions. Our tight itchy uniforms and big obnoxious hair bows created several humorous photos of us together throughout the years and quickly lead to our Senior year banquet where we had to say goodbye to our many years together at Novi High School. Separation in college didn’t hinder our friendship and before we knew it, Alex was standing up in my wedding as my right-hand woman keeping my mental state calm and present, she has always been great at that!
Her boyfriend, David, proposed in December of 2019 and I couldn’t be happier for them! Proof of their impeccably compatible relationship was cemented in the 1st place grand prize at our first annual Gingerbread House Competition that Christmas. Quite quickly in the wedding planning process, Alex asked me to make her wedding gown and I could not have been any more honored! We got to work thinking up ideas and knew from her previous try-ons at a bridal shop that she wanted something one-of-a-kind that she couldn’t quite find in stores. A Powerpoint was in order; I created this living document to ensure nothing was missed and we could communicate back and forth all of our ideas down to the smallest details. Upon our 2nd ‘meeting’, I had never met a more decisive bride! After evaluating all the options, she knew exactly what she wanted and could answer all of my questions in seconds. Alright then, time to order fabrics and get to work!
The Dress Design:
She wanted flowy, but not too big. Lace, but not too much. A dropped sleeve, but not immobile. With her ideas in mind, we came up with a beautiful design of a cupped bra structured top, sheer but with lace applique, and a 2-layer silk organza skirt with a subtle sparkle layer underneath to add a detail of shimmer, and a wide but not-too-long train. I was quite excited as I had yet to create a bra-structured top wedding gown. I did lots and lots of research in this field and even advised a bra-enthusiast I had met in my sewing travels for fitting advice. I came up with a custom pattern fit just for her. We did a mock-piece of course to ensure the proper fit. After a few adjustments, I was finally ready to cut into the actual fabric- that is always a good day! I cut all the fabric layers in one weekend.
Cutting the Fabric:
That dreaded glitter tulle- all my sewing friends already know what I am talking about! From previous experience, I know glitter tulle can leave quite the (pretty) mess, so this time I decided to prepare myself with the proper PPE (a new term of the year for me). A shower cap and clear garment bag worked nicely. The shower cap so the glitter doesn’t engage with my hair; from prior experience I knew it could live in there for 2+ weeks! The clear plastic garment bag was used as a makeshift poncho so the glitter would not stick to my clothes, and simply glide off the plastic, worked great because it was so long and hit down at my shoes (couldn’t take big steps but oh well). I cut this glitter layer as quickly as I could and sewed it into the dress right away so the glitter would be shielded and easier to manage while sewing. Messy, but well worth it! I am reminded of how much I love my job when clean-up involves a beautifully glittered ‘dirty’ paper towel rag. Life is good!
Because I had already made the bra top once in the mock piece, the second time was a breeze and the perfectly sewn cups fell right into place. I say it was a breeze but of course it still took a bit of time. The cups alone, just the 2 cups themselves, took 2 days for me to create, perhaps my darn perfectionism kicked in a bit too strong! But those girls will be looking absolutely lovely, I can assure you.
Next is the skirt. Obviously, pockets on your wedding day are of a high priority so I made those hidden but spacious. As I work on this portion of the dress, Alex and I had a long phone call about all things wedding-related with my sewing machine humming in the background of her call. Going on and on from one detail to the next, Alex was calm as ever, almost too calm and too chill. What is a wedding without a little drama?! She is letting all the bridesmaids pick their own dresses, letting us bridesmaids completely plan the bachelorette party, and is easy as ever with bridal shower plans! What a disgrace! Does she know she is a bride? Should I remind her? I should be thankful but where is all that fun juicy wedding gossip? Perhaps she forgot to put that in her wedding plans, I’ll try to come up with some. Just kidding! I love it!
I got to the point of sewing the bodice/bra structure to the skirt (always my favorite seam!) and was even able to set it on a dress form and take a step back for the first time. Gorgeous! It is quite naked at this point but I see the potential. A little lace here and there and we are well on our way! At this point, I leave the dress alone until Alex can swing by to try it on.
Try-ons with the Bride:
Alex came by in March to try the dress on again and she was feeling so great in it which made me so happy. We talked about the lace motifs, particularly which ones to use where and how dense. The cups are still not fitting quite right so I will work on a few more tweaks to get them sitting just right.
In May, Alex came for a muslin fitting for her other dresses. I had made 1 muslin for the bachelorette party as we had out design set and just had to make sure of the fit. The straps we adjusted to be a true criss-cross design in the back, and tweaked the fit overall. I made 2 rehearsal dinner muslins as Alex had given me free range from a design standpoint and I wanted to give her options. The one we decided to go with is a sleek look with buttons all down the front of the dress, sleeveless, V-neck. She also chose her fabric right then and there, a silk chiffon swiss dot fabric, first swatch option I handed her. As her bridal shower look developed from a previous jumpsuit I had worn myself, a muslin was not necessary so she tried on the my first iteration of the jumpsuit. We adjusted the width of the hem of the pant and decided on a gathered sleeve at the shoulder as opposed to the original pleated look. At this fitting, I also had her try on her wedding gown and the cup issue I was having before is not evident when I swapped the underwire and took in the sides, whew! That was the most challenging part of her entire gown and we hit is perfectly!
The Bridal Shower:
I am so honored to have thrown this beautiful bride’s bridal shower on May 16th, in my own backyard! Her mother co-hosted and did an absolutely fabulous job with all the food and desserts. How fun it was! This is my first thrown bridal shower and I cannot think of a party any more fun, however I am bias! Her bridesmaid, Sammi, helped Alex with her hair and makeup and got her all pretty before the party began. The jumpsuit looked absolutely darling on her! It was very modern and chic, and of course fit her perfectly! This jumpsuit is a great example of why I prefer custom gown creation as opposed to mass-production. That perfect fit in a jumpsuit is almost unachievable to fit the masses properly. She felt so confident and was so happy with the party and all of her new gifts.
The Bachelorette Party:
The June bachelorette party was a blast and she wore her cute sequin little dress for the big night out and again, looked so darling! Pockets were a great add for a long night out on the Vegas town, and she glittered so bright on that Piano bar stage!
July approached quite fast and before we knew it, we came upon the last week before the preliminary gown photoshoot with Mallory Tahy Photography. In this week, I just kept sewing more and more and more lace appliques, trying it on the dress form, and filling in gaps. In doing this, I listened to “The Sound of Music” movie 9 times, yes…NINE!!! And that is not a short film!
July 18th was the Sunday before the wedding. Alex went and got her hair and makeup professionally done while I packed the car with lots of couture gown goodies. My husband drove Alex, her mother, and myself down to the DIA in Detroit to photograph Alex’s dresses with Mallory Tahy Photography and she did a fantastic job! I could not recommend Mallory enough, beautiful work! I like doing these photoshoots to be able to get some professional photos done and collected before the wedding, and to just have variety with different backdrops. It was a blistering hot day and our model (Alex) took it like a champ! I also made her mother’s mother-of-the-bride dress so we got photos of that as well as Alex’s other 3 bridal looks.
The Big Day:
July 24th, 2021, a day to remember! Alex was a stunning bride in her custom Sarah Kolis gown and veil made just for her. The mother-of-the-bride INSISTED there would not be rain even though ALL of us thought she was being far too optimistic as the forecast called for an 80% chance of rain and thunderstorms; mothers really do know best! It is as if she parted the clouds herself, it was a beautiful sunny day by the time the outdoor ceremony began! It was my first time being a bridesmaid and it was truly an honor to stand by my best friend’s side and witness one of the biggest moments of her entire life, marrying her one true love, David. The rest of the day consisted of lots of pictures, lots of smiles, and lots of dancing to celebrate! I am so grateful for the beautiful day and am truly honored to call this bride my friend.
I can’t wait to hear all about your love story and the vision you have for your big day.
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