Funny story: I first met Melissa while she was sewing her epic orange wedding dress. It just so happens that her costumes and special occasion attire design studio, Maiden May, was based in the same Oakland loft as some personal artist friends. Scattered about, I could see bits and pieces of other dresses and vests, and got to hear the massive vision she had for her rainbow wedding day while I waited to head out to a party. I’d mostly forgotten about it, and then… BOOM. I saw I saw this image:
It was on Helena and Laurent Photography‘s Instagram feed, and I realized it was the magical moment where my worlds collide: my roommate was there (no joke), an APW photographer shot it, and it was a RAINBOW wedding. I immediately asked to publish the wedding (spoiler: coming in February), but I also wanted to get Melissa’s story so you could have the same peek into the process I had. Because, guys, she made every single outfit happen. And obviously, we aren’t all skilled makers, but the idea of dressing your wedding party in gradients is genius… and can be done on the cheap.
I asked Melissa to tell me how she thought of it, and she said:
I LOVE color, I rarely wear black, and I love wearing white, but we wanted to celebrate in COLOR. I love every color, so I thought having a rainbow wedding would be so fun. We were married under a twenty-five-foot Maypole with rainbow ribbons. “Somewhere over the Rainbow” was sung by Emiline, age nine, while we braided rainbow silk ribbons together—with each color representing a vow pertaining to the color. My bridesmaids were all in warm colors and Ben’s side were all in cool colors. But when put together in the right order we created a rainbow!
Every vision starts somewhere, and Melissa’s literally came from a bunch of scraps:
I volunteer at a place called SCRAP in San Francisco, It stands for Scroungers Center for Recycled Art Parts, and I wanted to have a SCRAP wedding. I had already been collecting items for the wedding and I wanted everything we used to be recycled/upcycled. I was fantasizing about the bridesmaids dresses and looking online for inspiration. I was raised by hippies and love the romantic look of Gunne Sax dresses. I started shopping online but knew that it would be hard and expensive to find dresses that didn’t clash and that fit well. One day at SCRAP I found a box of half made Gunne Sax dresses! The Gunne Sax shop and distributor in San Francisco must have gone gotten rid of some old stuff. It was a miracle! I took them home and pieced together four matching dresses to fit my four bridesmaids. They started out a beautiful cream color but I hand-dyed every one of them to a dusty rainbow color.
What about that coral masterpiece of a gown? Well, surprise! It actually all started with a dumpster. Said Melissa:
I had my dress already. My best friend Briana (bridesmaid in pink) had worked at a bridal shop in Texas, and dumpster dived for gowns after her boss would throw them out (crazy, I know). She gave this one to me because it’s my favorite color. As soon as I told her I was engaged, she sent it to me. I based a lot of inspiration off of the iridescent color of my gown. I had lots of ideas for a dress I could make from scratch, but this gown was so pretty (and fit so well) I decided to go with it. I changed almost every element, added a bow and custom hoop skirt, and used extra fabric for flowers for my headdress. Ben’s suit came from a second-hand place. It fit him perfectly and was the perfect color. I added a lot of details to his suit including beads and rhinestones, bows, cuff links, and appliqués.
It took me over a year to collect and create all of the components. The last six months leading up to the wedding was intense and I had a lot of help.
And it was, well, perfect:
I am very happy with the way it all turned out! I really do wish I could live in that day for many days. I felt safe and surrounded by beautiful nature, and I never wanted to leave that perfect moment!
Plus: you can always email Melissa to have her make something awesome for your wedding. She’s way into Bridal right now.