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!
My little sister, Melissa, is engaged! I am over the moon with joy and cannot wait to welcome her fiancé, Cam, into our family. The proposal was nothing short of magical, and the surprise engagement party that followed was the perfect start to this new chapter in their lives. I am loving this season of all-things-wedding-planning alongside Melissa, and anticipate all that is to come!
There is something so special about having sisters. I have 3 sisters whom I love dearly, and we are all very close! Growing up with 3 sisters, you share a lot- memories, clothes, emotions, bathrooms (ugh), but to date one of the most special things I’ve been able to share in is witnessing my little sister get engaged! I knew Melissa was getting engaged soon when Cam talked with us sisters privately that he was ring shopping, and he needed help wrangling up our busy parents to ask for that special blessing. I was SO excited! Now, I KNEW what ring type Melissa wanted, and in fact there were few people who didn’t know because she told everyone exactly what she wanted in the months leading up to the big day. She made sure that sparkly little thing was the exact style she had dreamed of, and Cam sure nailed it! They opted for a stunning oval cut natural diamond with gold band, how beautiful! Can’t wait to see what she chooses for the wedding band!!
^ Photographer Penny nailed this ring shot, right?! I gifted Melissa “The Mrs. Box” on her engagement day (along with ring cleaner, a custom wedding planning binder and more!). I knew she would want this ring box sooner than later to get those stunning ring shots at her engagement photo session! How did I know to get pink? Melissa is no doubt, always has been, always will be, a pink girl.
For her engagement photoshoot, Melissa wore a custom-designed dress by yours truly, and I have to say, I love how this dress turned out! Probably my all-time favorite!! Melissa gave me total design freedom, which is always such a fun challenge! Melissa has a very sweet character, she is very gentle and kind. She also gets overwhelmed easily, probably because us sisters grew up often playing follow-the-leader (me being the leader, and sister Angela stepping in when I was off-duty). Therefore she doesn’t mind, and even encourages help from us older sisters. Searching and booking her wedding venue was the most difficult step thus far as I am sure it is with many brides. Melissa and Cam’s challenge was that they did not want a long engagement, and truly hoped for a May Saturday of 2024. Being a challenge with a little fortunate luck, the Atrium at St. John’s Resort had just the date! May 11, 2024. Great news! Sign away! However, by this point, Melissa had great decision fatigue and I tip-toed into the next question for her on the phone late one night, “What do you want your (custom Sarah Kolis!) engagement dress to look like?”. Because I needed to start on this soon! Answered with an exhausted, “Ugh I have no idea”. Perfect! Because I sure have lots of ideas! So I approached her with this proposal: “How about I just DO IT?! I design the entire thing without ANY input from you, and then you just try it on a couple days before for a fitting?”. Bride says “Honestly… YES!”. Now how often can such an opportunity come about? A complete custom made SURPRISE Sarah Kolis gown?! How cool? I later asked her if we could do this with her wedding dress too and she said no.
So anyway, now I am here thinking, what do I make? I hop on Haberman Fabric’s instagram page and found the most beautiful light pink textured fabric. So the next day I drive out to Clawson and locate this beauty, however there is only 1.75 yards left!! Ah! Not quite enough, I could have really used maybe 2.25 yards. So…thinking on my feet (in these moments I always pretend like I am on Project Runway and have no choice but to ‘Make it work’) I pull a few more coordinating fabrics thinking I could do some tiered skirt situation, and also found a gorgeous silver metallic thread embroidered tulle that I decided to layer with to create this multi-dimensional effect. Often these heartbreaks of not having enough fabric leads to some of my best design moments. Everything happens for a reason!
I start working on the dress and of course I cannot leave my instagram/FB followers in the dust. So I post all about it on Instagram with the approval of the bride, however she asks that I (literally) block her on social media so she doesn’t accidentally see it pre-maturely.
Oh what fun making this dress was! With all the beading and plenty of ruffles, of course (as always) this dress took wayyyy longer than I had originally anticipated, and spent many late nights working on it, so worth it though right?! The week before their Saturday engagement photo session, Melissa tried it on twice with me and she was so excited to see it for the first time! (I then un-blocked her on socials!)
So she tries it on and says, do you have any jewelry? Do you have any shoes? What about a fall sweater for my 2nd look? What about shoes for that? GIRL. This girl gets away with so much with me. It is like my closet is her private clothing rental company! I take it as a compliment, she likes my style.
Anyway, I LOVE this dress. I am even going to ask her to bring it back to me so I can show it off to my ladies at Habermans next week. The design is a true reflection of her unique style, and seeing her in it during the fitting with me was a moment I’ll cherish forever.
Now, let’s talk about the engagement photoshoot, captured by the incredibly talented Penny Ralene Photography. I have worked with Penny on countless beautiful projects, so I knew that she would do an amazing job! Honestly, I didn’t even recommend Penny myself to Melissa, she has simply watched her other shoots with me and has actually known for a while that she would be contacting Penny immediately after booking her wedding date!
Even still, Penny has outdone herself! The photoshoot took place in Ann Arbor and the weather was perfect! Melissa and Cam wanted photos they would cherish forever, and I think they got them! The photos are stunning and speak for themself. Penny’s elegant and timeless photography style matches Melissa’s style so well!
“We had such a fun time getting our engagement photos done! We really wanted fall vibes for our photos so we were happy to have a little bit of fall color to work with! Working with Penny was amazing, she made us feel so comfortable and the pictures turned out even better than we could have asked!” – Bride Melissa
Lately I find myself caught up in all the nostalgic love story feels. It’s a joy to witness my sister embark on this journey with such a wonderful partner by her side. .
I’m counting down the days until Melissa and Cam’s wedding next spring, and I can only imagine the beauty and love that will fill the air. Stay tuned for more updates on this incredible journey as we celebrate love, family, and the memories that brings it all together. Cheers to Melissa and Cam – the beginning of a beautiful forever! 🥂💐
….and this is just the beginning!
*Listen to episode 21 of the “Dressing Up” podcast for an interview with Cam and Melissa themselves!*
I can’t wait to hear all about your love story and the vision you have for your big day.
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