It’s LGBT Pride Month, and we’re so excited to have wedding dress designer Kpoene’ Kofi-Nicklin, the Creative Director of Mignonette Bridal, back to answer any and all questions you have about same-sex weddings. This time, Kpoene’ has asked her friends and colleagues Cindy Savage and Julia Zayas-Melendez, of Crafty Broads, to join us as well.
Cindy and Julia founded Crafty Broads, a Chicago-based company that offers custom wedding garments, restyles, and alterations for every gender, as well as wedding planning services, in 2010.
Before we turn you loose on them, we had a few questions of our own.
What wedding-wear trends are you seeing among same-sex couples?
Kpoene’: Couples are choosing to wear things that make them happy, rather than going too matchy-matchy. I don’t personally work with any male couples because I specialize in wedding gowns, but we see a lot of ladies rocking amazing style, whether their gown is a bespoke confection from my shop, Mignonette, or a retro style from Modcloth. I am really happy at how far LGBT weddings have come in the last ten years — when I was planning my wedding, it felt like the options were very limited because it wasn’t a guarantee that vendors would even want to work with you. This might sound weird, but I feel like we are finally giving ourselves permission to have celebrations that are as beautiful and special and over-the-top as our straight friends’ weddings.
Cindy & Julia: We’re seeing a lot of couples choose to coordinate, but not match, in color and/or material choices! For example, we made a pair of suits last year with a purple brocade jacket and black pants for one bride, while her wife selected a coordinating purple silk for her blouse to wear with her black suit.
How are the options changing in terms of what a same-sex couple has available to them, sartorially, when it comes to weddings?
Kpoene’: A lot of amazing companies have popped up recently that cater to female-bodied folks who want to wear beautiful suits, like Saint Harridan and the Butch Clothing Co. It is great knowing that you no longer have to buy a boxy men’s suit and try to have it tailored to accommodate hips and boobs, all while worrying that you are going to be humiliated by the sales staff. At the same time, a custom suit does come with a large price tag, but it is so worth it because you can wear it again and again. My wife had an amazing silver jacquard suit made for our wedding and she wears it to formal events all the time.
Cindy & Julia: Well, the sky is the limit when you choose something custom! Our specialty is collaboration with our clients; we work directly with them to turn their inspirations and ideas into the garment they dream up. We don’t really follow fashion trends; rather, we encourage people to wear what suits them best — so the options are essentially unlimited.
In the ready-to-wear sector, we’re seeing a variety of options come into our shop for alteration. The strapless ballgown as a mandate for women is done. Vintage-inspired styles, short dresses, and sleeves are in. We’re also altering many more suits for women to wear instead of a wedding dress, and getting requests for custom dresses for men!
How can a couple avoid looking too matchy-matchy if both women choose to wear suits or both women choose to wear dresses?
Kpoene’: Hopefully individual style will come into play. A lot of couples might want to match, but will also choose to mix it up by wearing different-colored ties or vests, or in the case of two gowns, maybe different-colored accessories. At the same time, two white gowns or two suits next to each other are naturally going to look similar. Just know that you don’t have to wear the same thing as your partner. We actually didn’t book a vendor because she assumed we would be wearing matching dresses. It was such an odd question to have to field.
Cindy & Julia: The key is coordination — choose the same fabric or color (or both), but not the same style. One may wear a short dress with a full skirt while the other wears a long sheath, but they select the same shade of ivory; for suits they might choose an accent color which one wears in a vest or tie and the other in a shirt or blouse.
Do you have any advice for women who feel pressure from their family to wear dresses, when they would prefer to wear pants?
Kpoene’: Ugh, this is the worst. I do know some brides whose families pressured them into wearing gowns, and they were miserable the entire time (plus, they had to spend money on dresses they didn’t want to wear).
Since family is a delicate thing to negotiate, my biggest piece of advice to any bride or groom or broom or gride is to pick your battles. If mom is leaning on you to wear a froofy dress, but isn’t paying for it, try to delicately let her know that since this is coming out of your pocket, you will make the choice about what to wear. Alternately, wear the damn dress for the ceremony and change into something flattering and comfortable for the party. Your fiancé understands and will love you either way. In the end, whatever is going to get you through the day with a minimum of shouting is the right answer.
Cindy & Julia: Time to stand up and speak for themselves! It’s your wedding, you should wear what you want, and the people who love and support you will continue to do so no matter how you’re dressed. As with many wedding-related decisions, everyone — especially family — has opinions, but it is up to the couple to decide what’s most important for their wedding day. (And the old adage applies: It’s better to apologize later than to ask permission now.)
Speaking of pants! Can you recommend designers and stores where women can find formal suits?
Kpoene’: Yes! I adore Saint Harridan! And in Chicago of course we have Crafty Broads!!! I am also a big fan of J Crew’s women’s suits, which my wife looks quite dashing in, and DapperQ has a great style blog for female-bodied people looking for sartorial advice. Bindle and Keep is another good one. So much attention is finally being paid to this segment of the market, it is really awesome to see all the options!
At Bridal Market this year I also noticed that several of the bigger gown companies are now offering beautiful Marlene Dietrich-style women’s tuxedos, which signals a massive shift in the market. It’s really exciting to see what companies are paying attention.
Cindy & Julia: Come to us for a custom suit, of course! =)
For a good made-to-measure option, ladies can check out St. Harridan, but do expect to pay a tailor for minor adjustments and finishing details — as with standard menswear, suits often come with unfinished hems and buttons awaiting exact placement.
Women can also try a traditional menswear store. Shop for a jacket that fits well in the shoulders and pants which fit the hips; again expect to see a tailor for fitting it properly.
Kpoene’, Cindy and Julia will be here for two hours to answer your questions — fire away, brooms and grides!
UPDATE 3:30p EDT: Okay gang, we’re going to wrap things up and let Kpoene’, Cindy and Julia get back to their fantastic work. Thank you ladies so much for joining us!
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Image via Mignonette Bridal.