Wedding Month: My Dream Joel Janse van Vuuren Wedding Dress
If I'm honest, I absolutely loved trying on wedding dresses. I know a lot of people find it stressful or dramatic or tiring, but one Saturday morning my sister (and maid of honour) Jess picked me up in her car along with my other sister and my Mum, and the three of us spent the morning driving around to wedding dress shops and trying on dresses and drinking bubbles, and it was genuinely one of the most fun experiences I had in the whole wedding lead up. When we headed home at the end of the day (after having tried on dresses of every shape and size) I was incredibly happy – not because I’d found my dream dress, but in fact because I hadn’t.
Let me explain – the experience of trying on dresses was so very fantastic, in part because it taught me so much about what I DIDN’T want from a dress. I was bold – I tried on small dresses, and big dresses, (and GINORMOUS dresses), short dresses, long dresses, strapless dresses and dresses with sleeves. I rocked diamantes, lace, tulle, mesh – if you can dream it, I tried it on. And it taught me lots – what looks good on me, what doesn’t, what I THINK looks good on me but really doesn’t. And it also taught me, most importantly, that I probably wasn’t going to find the ultimate ‘Lucy’ wedding dress in a shop – I’d need to go a little more bespoke.
A few people had mentioned Joel Janse van Vuuren’s work to me, and I’d already started getting a little obsessed with him over Instagram when I first gave him a call to ask if we could meet to chat about a wedding dress. We met up over coffee, I gushed about how much I loved his work, showed him some pictures of the kind of style I wanted, and by the end of the short meet I was ready to get down on my knee and ask him that all-important question: Will you please make my wedding dress?
From the start, I have to say, the process of building a dress from scratch with Joel was FUN. We took car trips to The Oriental Plaza together to buy fabric (Joel knows everyone and gets the best best deals) where we also ended up eating samosas and solving the worlds problems, and we had fittings complete with my tiny baby nephew where Joel would keep him entertained with scraps of colourful fabric. By the time I was just about ready to get married, Joel and I felt like friends – in fact, we even ended up inviting him to the wedding.
One of the things I love most about Joel is that he is not just insanely talented, he’s incredible versatile too. One minute he’ll be making an incredibly beautiful wedding dress from pure silk, the next he’s designing the costumes for Die Antwoord’s new tour. Watched the videos for Pitbull Terrier or Baby’s On Fire? Those are Joels creations. I loved that I’d go in for a fitting and he’d have a huge pile of brightly coloured blankets piled on his work table, and would proceed to tell me that they’re set to become the monsters for the Desmond and the Tutus new music video, Boogie Monster – all the while deftly pinning me into a soft, whispy wedding gown that felt like it was made just for me… I guess, well, because it was.
While Joel took my ideas and made them real, I also genuinely feel that he also made them better. Deciding to add a soft blush dip dye hem took my dress to a level that I couldn’t even imagine (Joel is somewhat of a legend when it comes to dying fabric) and the integrated bra meant that I didn’t spend the whole night pulling the dress up like strapless brides so often do. In a word, the man is magic.