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0 In Eco-Friendly/ Fashion/ The Bride

Eco-Friendly Wedding Fashion, Popping Up in New York

481289_10200501880496981_1444504758_nA quick introduction: I’m Holly Greenhagen of Dame Couture, purveyor of made-to-measure bridal frocks. My dresses are strongly influenced by my interest in vintage clothing, and I also reconstruct and restyle vintage wedding dresses. I’m devoted to the idea of “slow fashion” and try to leave a small footprint, both in dress manufacturing and in life. And as a repeat Indie Wed vendor, I’m pretty excited to be guest posting on the IW blog!


In mid February, I found an email in my box from Christen Schneider of Solitary Pearl, the eco-friendly bridal line she designs out of Cleveland, Ohio. She was looking for like-minded designers to form a co-op and travel around the country with dresses and accessories for sale.

Christen Schneider of Solitary Pearl

Christen Schneider of Solitary Pearl

Two months (and hundreds of emails!) later, Christen has pulled it off. Wed Altered, as the group has come to call itself, is on the verge of its first pop-up shop, happening April 20 and 21 in New York. More than a dozen bridal designers (Dame Couture included) will be selling their wares. That’s right, selling: you can place an order for any of the lovely dresses you see and they’ll be shipped to your door. Or you can walk away with any of the gorgeous accessories.

Pop-up shop, eco-friendly…it all sounded like something Indie Wed brides would be interested in. So I interviewed Christen about how and why she did it all.

"Madeline" by Solitary Pearl, made with Fair Trade silk

“Madeline” by Solitary Pearl, made with Fair Trade silk

HG: Tell us the story of how Wed Altered got started.

CS: I wanted to find a way to bring Solitary Pearl dresses directly to brides instead of selling completely online. Pop up shops are a fun and effective concept, but not something a single bridal designer could usually afford to do. I also have a soft spot for co-ops, so I thought it would be a great idea to combine the two and, once I got some fellow designers who agreed, Wed Altered began!

HG: Your web site describes Wed Altered as a “socially conscious pop-up bridal shop.” What motivated you to assemble a group of socially conscious wedding vendors?

CS: I started out just planning on designing dresses. As I studied fabric sources, I quickly began to notice two distinct price brackets. When I looked into it and learned what made the lower price bracket so much lower (worker pay, labor conditions, little to no environmental responsibility, etc.), my conscience kicked in and Solitary Pearl became a socially conscious brand. I’ve learned a lot about the issues and I love the opportunity to work with people who work for the same goals. What feel like small daily efforts seem so magnified when you realize you aren’t the only one trying.

Hand-weaving Fair Trade silk in Cambodia

Hand-weaving Fair Trade silk in Cambodia

HG: What makes these vendors “socially conscious”? Do they all use environmentally friendly fabrics? Or are there other factors?

CS: Everyone has their own thing. Some people are really passionate about the environment and only use organic or all natural fabrics. Some are fair-labor activists who only use materials where the artisans receive living wages and fair treatment. Some have charities they champion or local causes they support. Almost everyone has a big focus on reviving domestic production. Several designers focus on reusing vintage materials, and there is a lot of waste and energy reduction in people’s processes.

Organic cotton dress by Janay A. Handmade

Organic cotton dress by Janay A. Handmade


HG: How did you find vendors that fit your mission?

CS: Some of these designers I’ve been following for a long time because I love their work. I looked through blogs that reached the our goal audience and found vendors they suggested. I did a lot of searches and spent time on Etsy. It was a lot of time opening every possible designer’s page and reading through their mission and about sections to see if it was a fit, and then reaching out to them if I thought it may be.

HG: How would you define “ethical” as it relates to the wedding industry?

CS: I think it’s a lot of different things, and each vendor and bride will have their own priorities. As long as you’ve decided what your main objectives are (less consumption, reuse, Fair Trade, organic, local, etc.) and do your best to make the choice when there is one available to you, I think that’s all anyone can aim for right now. The industry is changing, but slowly.

HG: How does your own wedding dress line, Solitary Pearl, practice social consciousness?

CS: We try to find as much socially and environmentally conscious fabric as possible, and we produce locally in on a small scale, so nothing gets made unless we know it’s needed. We try to keep our consumption and waste down, and we gave our fabric waste to local artists to use. We’re working on a composting system for the scraps that are too small for more projects, since almost every bit of what we use is a natural fiber.

Our biggest project is that we have a studio in the works that will train and employee single parents. We’ll be able to teach them skills that will allow them to support themselves and their family and get paid well while they do it. They’ll be in the same big room as their kids, who are working with an educator in a free day care area, learning things that will set them up for success when they start school. I’m pretty excited to see it take shape!

Headband from Mignonne Handmade, who uses vintage materials in her pieces

Headband from Mignonne Handmade, who uses vintage materials in her pieces

HG: What has been your biggest challenge in organizing this event?

CS: Timing. We decided to push ourselves and aim for April instead of waiting until the fall bridal market, and it’s been a rush! We’re going to pull it off, and well, but it meant a lot of hard work for everyone involved.

HG: What advice would you give to a bride looking for ethical vendors for her wedding?

CS: Remember that few companies or couples will be able to get all of the causes. There are really just too many good things for one person or company to tackle on their own! So if you find a combination like a dress company that does great charity work, a caterer who serves local foods, and a florist who uses organic flowers, you’re doing pretty well!

Also, try to remember that sometimes less is more. If you can’t find an item from a source you love, and you don’t really feel like you have to have it, just leave it out. Less money, less stress, and less consumption. Not a bad thing! If you have to have it, find the best source you can for right now or see if you can find one that’s been used before.

Wed Altered’s pop-up shop takes place Saturday and Sunday, April 20 and 21, from 9 AM to 8 PM both days, at Elk Studios, 164 W. 25th St., 12th floor, New York, NY. Admission is free, though it’s a good idea to book fitting room time here.

0 In Accessories/ Beauty/ Flowers/ The Bride/ Vendors

Hand-Made Monday: Intricate Hair Accessories from The Honeycomb

{White Flower Hair Crown}

Now more than ever, brides are feeling the freedom to move away from long-held traditions and expectations about how they should look on their wedding day. For example, more and more brides are embracing alternatives to the classic wedding veil and opting for intricate and hand-made hair accessories to complete their wedding day style — like the lovely and delicate floral creations of The Honeycomb.


{A little sneak peak at Blanche’s studio}

“What you create is an expression of how you see the world,” says owner/designer, Blanche Kern, “and my world is pretty beautiful.”  This creative world-view translates beautifully into The Honeycomb’s lovely and feminine hair pieces, which she sells in the U.S. and world-wide, and she was kind enough to answer some my questions (below) about her work!

CV: How did you get started making hair pieces?

BK: I have been making hair accessories since I was a child. As soon as I learned how to sew, I was making ribbon hair bows for all of my cousins, best friends, and dolls. When I discovered Etsy in 2008, I was in college and also working part-time in retail; a job that left me feeling empty and uninspired. Interestingly, the classes I took to become a graphic designer have significantly improved my skills a headpiece designer. I had no way of knowing when I began working with flowers that it would turn into a full-time business!

{Pink Hair Pins}

CV: Where do you draw inspiration for your work?

BK: I browse a lot of magazines to watch the current trends in floral headpiece design. At the present time, silk flower adornments are extremely popular with brides all over the world. You can’t open a wedding magazine or browse a wedding blog without examples jumping off the page at you. They are even more popular now than when I began my work four years ago; which is exciting for me, of course!

CV: What five words best describe your work?

BK: Whimsical, romantic, fanciful, beautiful, woodsy

CV: What is your favorite part of being a designer/creator of hair pieces?

BK: There isn’t a day when I walk into my studio, look around at all my materials spilling out of their boxes and think, gosh I don’t want to go to work today. It just doesn’t happen!

{Lilac Flower Clip}

CV: Describe your ideal customer:

BK: I am excited when a bride comes to me and has no idea of what kind of accessory she wants to wear. She usually has her dress picked, and she knows she wants to wear flowers. But should it be a clip, a wreath, a veil? That is where I come in, to ask the probing questions: are you getting married in a church setting, or outdoors under the trees? Is the wedding theme going to be vintage, or woodsy, or classic? Is there a lot of lace or sparkle in the rest of the decor? This information-gathering helps us both put the bride’s vision for her headwear into words and a plan.

CV: Do you create custom hair pieces?

BK: I love custom orders! I always encourage brides to pick a handful of examples of my past work which they really love, and after discussing, I can design a unique headpiece which combines the various elements that they like best.

CV: What should a bride consider before buying a hair piece? (Does she need to decide on a hairstyle first?)

BK: It’s helpful for me to know what her wedding theme is going to be. It helps me guide her in the right direction for the “look” of her hairpiece. Knowing your hairstyle is also helpful for me: if she’s going to wear a full updo, I need to know, so I can make her wreath a larger circumference.

{Mustard Seed Circlet}

CV: Are all of your customers brides?

BK: I sell mostly to brides/bridesmaids/flower girls, although my pieces are popular for proms, theatre, re-enactments, cocktail parties, anniversaries, etc.

CV: What is/are your favorite piece(s) you’ve created?

BK: Trying to pick a favorite design is like asking a parent to pick a favorite child. Naturally, I love them all!

CV: Thanks, Blanche for taking the time to answer my questions! Be sure to visit The Honeycomb on Etsy for more beautiful hair pieces.

Do you know of a great small wedding business you’d like to see featured on Hand-Made Monday? I’d love to hear about it! Send me an email at

1 In Fashion/ The Bride

Dahl Bridal Fashions

Recently I was contacted by the folks over at Dahl about their spring/summer collection.  If you are a Project Runway fan like I am then you might know that Dahl is the fashion line of Allison (Dahl) Kelly, a season three favorite.

silk chiffon empire waist column gown in blush

Her collection includes both the more traditional wedding dress, available in blush, ivory, white and some custom colors, and a line of bright bridesmaid and party dresses that would also work as fabulous alternative wedding dresses.  With plenty of color options available, you can have the perfect dress at a totally reasonable price.  The dress above is a mere $398 and comes in sizes 2-14.  The dresses are simple and unfussy yet have enough detailing to make them special.

Allison’s collection ranges from floor length to above the knee hemlines, with a variety of necklines and silhouettes to flatter any figure.  While most of these dresses are for brides and her maids, these fun frocks would also be perfect for rehearsal dinners, and even for non-matrimonial events such as a New Year’s Eve party.

metallic pink, silver, gold dress

Dahl doesn’t shy away from color either.  The fact that nearly every dress can be made in the custom colors above is a huge plus in my book.  The hard part is deciding which color you want.  I think I’ll take this little number in tangerine…. or maybe tomato red… or maybe eggplant.  At $248 a pop, maybe I’ll get a few.

blush pink a-line knee length dress ruffles

Dresses are available in sizes 2 up to 20 with customizable lengths available.  Custom sizing is available and they will even send you a muslin version for you to try on for fit. (A small fee applies)  Party dresses typically take 3-4 weeks to make while bridal dresses can take up to 8 weeks.  So what are you waiting for?

0 In Accessories/ Destination Weddings/ Eco-Friendly/ Fashion/ The Bride

Searching for Handmade Flair for Festivities?


Photo Credits: Nels Akerlund |

Aloha!  My name is Stephanie Fontaine & I’m the person behind Clark & Diversey, a small local business.  My company features one-of-a-kind handmade flair for festivities, including head pieces, flower fascinators, dress adornments & accessories influenced by adventures abroad (my goal is to travel to as many countries as my age) and my swanky hometown of Chicago.  Many goodies are created from eco-friendly fabric, luxurious scrap material from bridal gowns & cruelty-free feathers.  Clark & Diversey creates handmade flair fit for any festivity.

Since tying the knot at our July 2010 destination wedding in the Dominican Republic, I’m partial to collaborating with brides-to-be on an original, custom creation for the big day.  We’re overjoyed to once again be a part of IndieWed – the most fabulously creative bridal event, period.  For the first 50 couples in line tomorrow, you’ll snag an amazing reusable, silkscreened swag bag filled to the brim with some spectacular goodies from many of the talented IndieWed vendors!  Here’s a sneak peek of Clark & Diversey’s swag treats:


Check out Clark & Diversey’s blog next week for the full reveal.  Looking forward to meeting y’all this weekend!

Like us on Facebook:
Twitter: @ClarknDiversey

1 In Events/ The Bride/ The Groom/ Wedding Planning

Surviving a Bridal Show – Tips for Attending Indie Wed

If you are the midst of planning and have decided to attend a bridal show, know that all shows are not created equal.  What appeals to some may not appeal to others.  It used to be that the only real shows were held in big hotel ballrooms or convention halls but within recent years, smaller or independent shows (like Indie Wed) have begun popping up all over.  Some shows can be large and give you a lot to look over but some find these shows overwhelming.  More intimate shows give you that one on one face time with vendors but often these shows aren’t as diverse and only highlight a few select vendors.

Photo by Jeremy Lawson Photography

If you have the opportunity I would suggest attending at lease one large and one small show in your area.  Of course my ultimate suggestion would be to attend Indie Wed!  While it is a larger show with over 100 vendors, it isn’t your typical ballroom show.  Vendors are juried through an application process (unlike other large shows which will take anyone who pays a high fee) to ensure that we have a diverse group (with style, price range, etc) of small, independent artists and wedding pros.  Many of our vendors don’t participate in any other wedding shows because they understand the uniqueness of Indie Wed and the wonderful group of attendees it attracts.

Photo by Studio Starling

If you are attending Indie Wed (or any other wedding shows), you need to arrive prepared so that you can make the most of your time there.  Here are some helpful tips.

  1. Bring a bag or tote – Vendors will have plenty of handouts and giveaways so bring something you can put everything in.
  2. Bring a bottle of water – While food and drinks will be available, it might be nice to have a bottle tucked in your bag.  Staying hydrated will keep you refreshed.
  3. Wear comfortable shoes – As someone who can attest to spending the day running up and down between all the floors, leave the heels at home and opt for something more comfortable.
  4. Contact info labels – Preprinted labels with your name, address, & email will save you from having to fill out mailing lists multiple times.  Some people even opt to open a P.O. box or get a special email address just for wedding planning.
  5. Know your budget – Having your budget in mind will help you focus on vendors who fit the bill (literally)
  6. Bring your checkbook / credit card – Many vendors will be taking deposits and this is a great way to make sure you snag that vendor for your big day before anyone else does (TIP: because of high banking fees, many small vendors prefer checks over credit cards.  In fact, some vendors don’t accept credit cards at all.  Make sure you ask ahead of time)
  7. Walk down every aisle on all floors – Indie Wed is large with vendors on two floors.  Make sure you go down every aisle so you don’t miss that hidden gem (Programs with maps are available at the registration table)
  8. Bring swatches of fabrics, colors etc with you – When talking to vendors, having something to show them may be helpful.  If you use Pinterest to save inspirational images, having their app on your smart phone may also allow you to show vendors what you have in mind.
  9. Have your calendar handy – bring your datebook or calendar with you as this is a perfect time to set up future appointments with vendors.
  10. Enjoy

Have any other good tips? Leave them in the comments section below.

0 In Beauty/ Chicago/ Events/ Inspiration/ Photography/ The Bride/ The Groom

Windy City Pin Up


We at Windy City Pin Up are so very excited to attend our first Indie Wed in just a few short weeks. We are a vintage pin up duo composed of: Ashlee (Owner.Photographer.Stylist) & Laura (Partner.Hair.Make-up.Finishes)  We are a bit more than enthralled with all things vintage and when we started our business had a relatively simple mission: 

A dedication to transforming everyday women into timeless beauties. We are inspired by all that is classic, romantic, sexy, playful and coy. Encouraged by curves and the inherent allure that every woman possesses. Committed to create for you, an experience and memories that will last a lifetime.

And while each and every one of our clients are amazing and unique, one client base we never expected to be so vast and enjoyable are all the brides-to-be that come our way. Whether it’s a boudoir session to surprise their groom with on their big day, the classic pin-up calendar they’ve always wanted to share or a pin-up themed bachelorette party with their favorite girls, we adore our brides and can’t wait to meet so many of you soon. Be sure to stop by our booth or sign up for our burlesque/strip tease class.

We are currently offering 25% off all gift cards through the holidays, as well as discounts on our 2011 calendars and bookings are open for our heavily discounted Valentines Day theme shoot! Contact us or visit our website for details.