This Modified ModCloth Blue Wedding Dress Will Knock Your Socks Off


And that's before all the fabulous dancing

Kate, Graduate Student & David, Patent Attorney

One sentence sum-up of the wedding vibe: An intimate afternoon celebration of love and family, with dancing, live music, games, laughter, and light.

Soundtrack for reading: “Mo’ Better Blues” by Gordon Webster

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Wedding Dress: I started with this dress from ModCloth. Then I added a ball gown skirt with pockets and made sleeves from lace salvaged off the skirt. I added buttons from Bliss Buttons. I waited to do the bustle until my mom was in town so we could work on it together.

Venue and Decorations: We selected our venue with three unshakeable criteria: it had to have a lot of light, a good dance floor, and be beautiful without added decoration. The only decorating we did were the centerpieces and the mantle arrangements from the florist.

Seating Arrangements: The only room large enough to seat everyone for lunch was also the only room large enough to seat everyone for the ceremony. A number of solutions were proposed, but eventually we decided to just seat everyone at their reception tables for the ceremony. When the ceremony ended, the wedding party walked to our seats and the caterers came out with the first course.

Officiant: My dad officiated for us. Last year DC passed a regulation allowing anyone, regardless of religious affiliation or ordination, to receive a temporary officiant license.

Dancing: Swing and blues social dancing is a huge part of our lives; it’s how we met, it’s how we know most of our friends, and it brings us so much joy, so of course it was also a major part of our celebration.

The After-Party: Our wedding ended at 5pm, so David and I were back at our hotel by 5:40pm for a nap and some alone time. Our family spread the word for us that anyone not done partying could meet us at the hotel bar at 9pm, so we spent the evening there.

Favorite Thing About The Wedding

There were two moments that I felt overwhelmed with love: when everyone stood up as David and I walked in, arm-in-arm, for the ceremony and when we had the “jam.” Dance jams are a way of making someone feel special at a dance event—often to commemorate a birthday or to thank an event organizer. Everyone stands in a circle, with the honorees in the center, and as the song plays, people leave the circle to come in and dance with the persons being honored. So over the course of one song, the people in the center dance with twenty or thirty partners for just a few bars of music each. I’ve never really liked jam circles because you never know who you’ll end up dancing with, but at our wedding a friend came up to me and told me they were going to have a jam, and I couldn’t very well say no.

When it started, I realized that I was going to dance with all the people I love to dance with most, all in one song, and how could that be anything but wonderful? When I thought the song was ending, I realized that I wanted to end it with my husband, so I told my partner at the time and left her to “steal” David from the person he was with. Our photographer, bless her heart, managed to photograph both our faces as we spun, and the joy in those photographs captures exactly how it felt.


The Info:

Photographer: Devon Rowland Photography | Location: Washington, DC | Venue: Josephine Butler Parks Center | Dress: I started with this dress from ModCloth. Then I added a ball gown skirt with pockets and made sleeves from lace salvaged off the skirt. I added buttons from Bliss Buttons. I waited to do the bustle until my mom was in town so we could work on it together. | Hair Ornament: A good friend of ours is a jeweler, and she custom made my hair ornament with stones that matched my earrings and a button that matched those on my dress. | Groom’s Suit: Nordstrom’s | Cake Topper: Forgotten Robots on Etsy | Band: Josh Fialkoff Quintet, actually, although we hired the quintet, they came with two extra musicians—a harmonica player and an extra vocalist—who added their talents to the mix. | Robot Crayons for Kids’ Favors: FolkKeeper on Etsy | Custom Velociraptor stamp: Cupcaketree Rubber Stamps on Etsy | Vows: After the wedding we had a calligrapher write out our vows, and we have them framed on the wall of our living room next to a photo from our wedding.

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  • Sara P

    You did an amazing job with that dress! So awesome!

    Congrats!!!

  • kate

    oh my GAWD your dress. love love love it. love the joy and movement in the dancing photos too!

    and the robot cake toppers are soooooo cute!!

    • mere…

      I am in love with cake toppers.

  • Lian

    Aah, beautiful and lovely! It looks like it felt similar to our wedding, we also had a daytime wedding with swing dancing and board games!

  • Kayjayoh

    That dress. I am in love.

    • vegankitchendiaries

      It’s too much! I can’t stop scrolling back up to stare at it!

  • Ella

    JUST GORGEOUS! So much awesome. :) Congratulations!

  • Sarah E

    Wowzers. That dress is drop-dead gorgeous! What amazing work you did with it! Your hair is also fab, and as a fellow swing and blues dancer, your jam sounds wonderful- the exact right way to celebrate, with all your favorite dance-friends :-) (And I seriously envy you the D.C. swing scene!) Very best wishes for your marriage!

  • This is so great, you guys! I had no idea you made your dress, it looks amazing!

  • Love it! The dress turned out gorgeous! How did swing dancing in a long dress work out for you? I always wonder if it gets caught up or stepped on.

    I second Sarah E.’s comment and also envy the DC swing scene (as a dancer from Cleveland). Congrats!

    • Kate Stein

      I didn’t have any trouble with the long skirt, but I brought a back up dress in case I felt the need to change (I didn’t).

  • Anon

    You rocked wedding planning!!!

    The ceremony/reception seating idea, the no decor needed requirement, the family/friend love priority…all this is so so awesome and what I’m planning on too. THANK YOU for the dress inspiration! To find a top with sleeves and a perfect skirt even is so tricky…making a skirt to match and using under-dress to make sleeves is such a great solution!

    • Kate Stein

      Thank you! Those were concerns that I had, too, but I’ve been sewing for a long time, so DIY seemed like the obvious solution. I’m glad it was able to give you some inspiration, and I hope your wedding turns out wonderfully.

  • jspe

    I’m also getting married at the same venue and have been worried about decorations – so great to see how beautiful the space is, filled with love and people (and a handful of flowers)

    • Kate Stein

      It’s a wonderful venue! They had Christmas lights up on the stair railings for the holidays, and we asked them to leave them up, which they agreed to do. Other than that, the space is so lovely as it is.

      Things to be aware of – if you have dinner and dancing in that main ballroom, consider breaking down a few tables. We just pushed tables to the side, and the rest of the room got a little crowded. Also, around 4pm (in February – it would be different at different times of the year), the sun came rushing through the main windows on the front of the building. It made for some stunning photos (our photographer is amazing), but it was a little blinding. We wrapped up at 4:30, so it wasn’t much of a problem, but it’s something to be aware of if you’re there during sunset.

    • Andrea

      I also got married there, and our wedding planners forgot (or didn’t understand what I intended) to put up some of my decorations, and it still looked stunning. The light is magical there. We were married in August, and everything was glowy and lovely.

  • NicoleT

    Your dress!!!! SO beautiful. Your wedding is drop dead gorgeous!

    ETA: Oh, and let’s not forget about your incredible hair ornament!

  • Julia Eckhardt

    LADY. Are you taking best friend applications or what? This dress is amazing! I wish more people weren’t afraid of the DIY, especially if they’ve got some talent or are willing to develop a talent. In my own wedding planning now, I’ve noticed that some do get afraid that things will look up to a certain level – which if that’s what you want, or if you just don’t want to do DIY, that’s cool too! For example, I plan to grow my own wedding flowers and supplement from a flower farm, and the reaction has been either complete silence or woooaahhh nellie. But my point is the same point that’s been made on this site so many times, which is that your wedding is not a show, that a wedding is not some expression of perfection, so isn’t it just fine then if you have something that appears a bit homemade or isn’t Pinterest-ready? I prefer something that looks like human hands have touched it, personally. But that being said, that dress certainly is perfection incarnate!

    • Kate Stein

      DIY flowers are such a lovely idea! I absolutely agree that having that personal touch makes things much better than perfect. We drew the DIY line at anything we had to handle the day of the wedding, which is why we hired vendors for food and flowers, but one of my bridesmaids did both for her own wedding, and it was so wonderful and personal!

  • AGCourtney

    Ahhhhh this is amazing! Your dress is astoundingly beautiful. I love the joy and fun that just shines through every picture. The wedding seems just perfect – board games and swing dancing?! YES. You seem like the funnest people ever. Congratulations on your marriage!

  • laurasmash

    “This Modified ModCloth Blue Wedding Dress Will Knock Your Socks Off”
    ^ Accurate. Socks = off.

    Happy to see another person with an early wedding and an afterparty! Did you guys feel rested after your quiet time? We’re doing something similar so I hope we’re not too exhausted!

    • Kate Stein

      The time for ourselves made all the difference. By the end of our reception I was completely done (good thing I’d delegated clean up to my brother or we never would have gotten out of there). But after a little one-on-one time with my new husband and a quick nap, we were ready to party again and stayed at the bar with family and friends until they closed at 2am.

  • Rachel

    Okay, Lady… I am mentally jiving with you. I am doing so many things similar to you (modifying a cocktail dress to full-length, rockin venue), but I really curious to find out how the sitting at lunch tables during the ceremony worked out for you. We super have limited space too! Did people mind? Did you try for an entrance from behind & between them or come in from a different route? Please Explain…

    • Kate Stein

      We did two thing that I think helped. First, we put the start time on the invitations for 15 minutes before we planned to start. Most weddings you arrive and take a seat. Our guests had to hang up their coats, get a drink, and find their assigned table. Fudging the time made sure every had plenty of time. Our family was instructed to keep an eye out for list individuals to help them figure it out. Second, we left an ‘aisle’ between the door and the ceremony location. It curved at a right angle, and actually worked out really well. To our right as we came in was one corner of the room, where we had set up the tables for our wedding party. On the left side of the aisle were all our guests. It didn’t really look like an aisle, but it gave us a clear path and delineated the space nicely.

    • Kate Stein

      And no one minded the arrangement, or at least no one told us they did. Everyone was able to see fine, and it made things go much more smoothly.

    • Sarah E

      In addition to Kate’s great advice, I’ll chime in to say I’ve been a guest at a wedding where everyone sat at their tables for the ceremony, and it was just fine. This was outdoors in the couple’s parents’ backyard, they had a bit of a curve to get to the top of the aisle, but then processed straight down. They also had limited seating up front in rows of chairs, reserved for close family and whoever was doing readings. We could see as well as in any seating arrangement, and it was nice to be settled.

  • Staria

    I laughed with recognition as I read the details of your delightful wedding. My best friend sent me the link to this just now because of her excitement over the pockets in your gorgeous frock… but also because we are both swingdancers. Boardgames, those shoes, pockets in your BLUE dress (from modcloth, of course), fantastic blurry photos of everyone having a wonderful time… Love a swingdancing (BLUESING! Yeahhh) wedding and adore swingdancers around the world in general! Congratulations, I hope it was amazing – it definitely looks it!

  • lori

    I want to listen to that song and look at that dress forever.

  • Hils

    Something about that first kiss picture is SO magical and sweet. Congrats!

  • KT in KC

    That is hands-down the most BEAUTIFUL wedding gown I have ever seen. Period.