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!
Couture, couture, couture! You will likely hear this word often when talking about alterations and custom gowns, it’s even a part of my brand’s name, but what does it mean? Couture is a realm in which a garment is designed and constructed to the greatest quality, made for a specific individual client.
Sarah Kolis here! I am thrilled to share the incredible journey of creating Ashley’s custom couture wedding gown! Working with Ashley was a dream, and I’m excited to take you through the magical moments we shared during this elevated couture adventure. Let me take you along the journey…
When beginning her wedding dress search, Ashley decided to take a unique approach by venturing out to shop for her dress independently. This unconventional decision allowed Ashley to truly follow her heart and get a better idea about what sort of gown resonated with her vision and style. While taking family and friends along to help you look for a dress can hold special memories, it is truly hard to stick to your own dress dreams during such bustling appointments, which is the most important thing to remember when dress shopping!
“Going by yourself to look at dresses will allow you to follow your heart with what YOU want and what you feel looks best on you. This will allow you to be less pressured to buy what everyone else likes or wants as opposed to what you really want.”– Ashley
After looking in stores, Ashley still hadn’t found the perfect gown for her, and really wanted to incorporate all of her favorite details into one gown, and that’s where we connected! Ashley in particular was looking for a quality gown with a very specific vision, with a proper length hemline, and short timeline of only 6 months! Ashley’s initial inquiry was an easy and excited “yes!” for me and I couldn’t wait to get started on her dress! By the way, if you (or someone you know) is interested in a couture gown, I still have a few openings for this year! Fill out an inquiry here!
Like any custom couture gown, I began with a sketch after discussing Ashley’s vision for her dream gown mixed with my personal design touch. Once Ashley loved and approved the design, I designed her custom patterns and got to work on the mock dress. With each of my custom gowns, I create a “draft” dress out of an inexpensive cotton fabric before cutting into the luxurious materials, to ensure a perfect fit, and to let the bride get a realistic view of the dress we’re about to create and ensure it is her dream gown! We do a fitting with this mock dress and discuss all the changes we want to see, whether it is perfecting the fit or changing style lines, this is the time to do it!
Next, it’s time to cut into the selected materials! When making a custom gown, having the ability to choose the fabrics is really where the power lies. Even the most beautiful design cut in the wrong fabric can change the overall effect of the dress. With Ashley’s help, we selected stunning materials, a fabulous white 100% silk satin bodice and a white tulle skirt. Such fibers are almost extinct in store bought gowns, which use almost completely synthetic alternatives. Myself as a designer, I choose to work with nothing less than the best for my couture brides!
At this very first mock dress fitting together, Ashley and I met in person for the first time and what a dream she was! I got to hear all about her wedding, and her sweet fiance, and even gifted her the most adorable engagement gift!
We can’t forget Ashley’s stunning custom veil! Due to the simple nature of Ashley’s elegant bridal gown, we were able to add in a little personality with the veil! We chose a scattered lace trim style (lace from Haberman Fabrics in Clawson!). We both believe it coordinated perfectly with Ashley’s gown, while adding in a bit of interest!
While the dress was being completed, I had Ashley in for a few fitting appointments, and it was such a special memory to see Ashley’s reaction to seeing and trying on the dress for the first time! Our appointments were filled with so many smiles, laughter, and excitement! Ashley’s input and suggestions were invaluable, making the entire process a collaborative and unforgettable experience. The bond we formed during these sessions will forever hold a special place in our hearts!
“The alterations I had with Sarah Kolis were truly special! I will never forget our appointments. The time we spent together will always hold a special place in my heart. Sarah made me feel so comfortable and was super accommodating to different suggestions I had.”– Ashley
My goodness!! What a day this was! For all of my high end couture brides, I organize the dreamiest bridal portraits photoshoot about a week or two before the wedding! I love to properly capture the gown in all of it’s glory, and to continue the couture experience where the bride is the center of attention!
Ashley’s parents even came to watch! We had Ashley all dolled up with hair by Carleana (Hairpins & Happiness) and makeup by Danielle (DN Artistry)! The day started out with the full glam experience bright and early in the morning. Photography started out with Penny from Penny Ralene Photography capturing beautiful flatlays and light branding work with myself.
Finally…we got Ashley into the gown and boy was she a beauty! The photos speak for themselves, but how fun?! How often does a woman get such a royal treatment am I right?! It is so fun to have this extra time with a photographer to capture such beautiful memories in the days leading up to your wedding, without all the hustle and bustle of the actual wedding day. I also even thought to bring a bouquet for a little color pop from The Flower Alley in Novi! We also had plenty of coffee and snacks throughout the day to keep us energized!
Any bride would not regret having this photoshoot done to conclude the couture gown design process! If you want to read more (and see the gallery) about Ashley’s couture photoshoot, you may do so here!
After the photoshoot, I took the gown straight to Ashley’s father’s house to prep for the big day. I got the gown and veil all steamed out one last time, left her the precious garment bags and many little surprise gifts 🙂 To be honest, I felt sad parting from a gown I worked countless hours on for the past several months! But I know it is all safe and ready for Ashley’s big day!
The beautiful photos below show the stunning outcome of such a shoot, but he sure to also check out the video here!
Ashley’s wedding day was nothing short of a fairytale. Ashley remembers being very nervous the morning of her wedding. The morning seemed to go by pretty slow as her anticipation to see Kyle was building up. Ashley was cherished get ready at her father’s house, which was sentimental because it was where her sister and sister-in-law got ready on their wedding days, how beautiful! She also really enjoyed the time she got to spend with her bridesmaids and flower girls. While getting ready for the wedding, Ashley was pampered by the amazing makeup artist Megan Walker and hair stylist Erin Rhodes!
“The day of my wedding was the most beautiful I have ever felt in my entire life.”– Ashley
“The first look down the aisle was pretty dramatic because of how the church doors opened into the church. I looked down the aisle and saw Kyle, who looked like he was a mile away. I’ve never been so nervous and exited at the same time in my entire life. Kyle said he couldn’t believe this was happening. He said I looked so beautiful and that he would never forget this moment. Kyle thought the dress looked beautiful and that it was my style. He also said It was a gorgeous take on the style I wanted and the dress fit me perfectly.”– Ashley
The ceremony was everything Ashley dreamed of, and was incredibly sentimental as her parents were also married in the beautiful Old St. Mary’s Catholic Church. For the ceremony, Ashley selected readings for the entire mass, which were based off of the life that she and Kyle had created together. Ashely shared that during the ceremony, the stars felt aligned and everything she and Kyle had talked about over the years was finally coming true.
When the time came for the reception, the fun quickly began! Brittany Wenson from Rock events helped Ashely and Kyle hide away in a closet at the Madison so that their guests would not see them before their formal introduction (genius!). They were even brought their custom cocktail- a “Mint to Be” mojito and a plate of appetizers. What a fun way to start out married life! From her dream dress design to her stunning wedding, it is clear that Ashley had an overall vision for her big day, and we think she certainly executed it to perfection! You can just see the joy on both the bridal party and guests faces!
Ashley shares some pearls of wisdom for future brides based on her experience. To be honest I would take advice from any bride that looked THIS happy in all her photos! What’s her secret?!
“Stay calm and try to relax as much as possible. This is you and your partners special day! This is about you two. Look into the eyes of your partner as much as possible to soak up every moment together. Enjoy the time with your family and friends. This will be the one time in your life that everyone will be together in the same room celebrating you and your significant others love for one another.”– Couture Bride Ashley
Crafting Ashley’s dream wedding gown was a journey filled with love, laughter, and couture magic. I feel privileged to have been a part of Ashley and Kyle’s special day, and I wish them a lifetime of love and happiness! Thank you Ashley for being the most beautiful and sweet bride! Thinking of your truly warms my heart and all the special memories we have together. I am so so honored to have played this part in your special day! Kyle…you are one lucky guy! Take care of her!
I can’t wait to hear all about your love story and the vision you have for your big day.
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