Why This Bride DIY'ed Her Wedding Dress

Photo: Courtesy of Amy Carlston Photography.
When Lauren, a Georgia native, set out to Oahu to attend Brigham Young University, she didn't exactly plan on falling in love. But, as she put it, "it's difficult not to in such a stunning place!"
While tagging along on a weekend camping trip with friends, Lauren, her eventual groom-to-be Kenneth, and the rest of the gang swam about a mile offshore to a secluded, Jurassic-looking island. It was there that the pair connected, and two weeks later, they were on their first date. After years of surfing à deux in Kenneth's hometown, he proposed at sunset.
But, soon after the engagement, Lauren spent six weeks volunteering at an orphanage in Tanzania, and put all wedding planning on hold. Once she returned, Lauren scrambled to find the perfect gown, but was disappointed with her search: “It turns out, wedding-dress shopping was not as fun as I thought it would be!”
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After months of no luck — she couldn’t seem to find a dress that fit her style or her price range — Lauren decided to take matters into her own hands. With a newfound appreciation for the DIY route, she went to the fabric store with her mom, picked out material, designed her dress, and found someone in her home state to sew it together quickly.
Take a look at how Lauren and Kenneth’s day came together — and marvel at the handcrafted gown.
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Photo: Courtesy of Amy Carlston Photography.
The bride's mother and sister arranged her flowers.
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Photo: Courtesy of Amy Carlston Photography.
"About a year and a half before Kenneth proposed, we were at the mall and he was pulling me into every ring shop wanting me to look around. As we were leaving the mall, we were walking through Macy’s to get to our car. I glanced over and saw a beautiful ring, and Kenneth immediately dragged me over to tell the sales associate that I wanted to try it on."
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Photo: Courtesy of Amy Carlston Photography.
"As our relationship got more serious, I looked for other rings. I wanted something unique, vintage-looking, and gold, but I couldn’t stop thinking about the ring from Macy’s. I thought was kind of funny that of all places, Macy’s was where I found my unique, vintage-looking gold ring. A year and a half later, they still had the ring… but this time I was looking at it in my almost fiancé's hand as he was down on one knee in the sand."

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Photo: Courtesy of Amy Carlston Photography.
"Everything was set up and made by the help of our friends and family."

Wedding dress: Designed and beaded by bride, sewn by Ruby at Atlanta Bridal Couture.
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Photo: Courtesy of Amy Carlston Photography.
"My bridesmaids made our ceremony backdrop, the groomsmen sat on each others' shoulders and strung all the lights, my aunts baked the delicious desserts, my sister-in-law and mom made all the groomsmen ties and ring bearers’ bow ties, my mom and sister arranged ALL the flowers for the day, and even our photographer and her husband were friends from Hawaii."

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Photo: Courtesy of Amy Carlston Photography.
"My dad unexpectedly passed away four months before Kenneth proposed, so I’m grateful Kenneth had the opportunity to have met and loved him. I wanted to feel like my dad was a part of our wedding since he was such a huge part of our relationship."
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Photo: Courtesy of Amy Carlston Photography.
"My sister-in-law cut out a piece of my dad’s blue shirt and sewed a heart onto the bottom of my dress. And, I wanted to put a gold locket that my parents gave me on my bouquet, but I was nervous of losing it. Instead, my mom bought me another gold locket, filled it with pictures of my dad and me, and attached it to my bouquet. Kenneth wore a faded, gold tie pin that was my dads."
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Photo: Courtesy of Amy Carlston Photography.
The groom wore a Bar III suit from Macy's.
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Photo: Courtesy of Amy Carlston Photography.
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Photo: Courtesy of Amy Carlston Photography.
The venue was a friend's backyard.
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Photo: Courtesy of Amy Carlston Photography.
"Kenneth and I both talked about my dad in our vows, and my sister mentioned a story in her toast about my dad predicting that Kenneth and I would get married years before we were engaged. It was a fun story that Kenneth had never heard and it was so special to hear my sister tell it again on our wedding day."
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Photo: Courtesy of Amy Carlston Photography.
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Hair and Makeup: Laura Ek.
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Photo: Courtesy of Amy Carlston Photography.
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Photo: Courtesy of Amy Carlston Photography.
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Photo: Courtesy of Amy Carlston Photography.
Eyelashes: Krystal Holmes.
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Photo: Courtesy of Amy Carlston Photography.
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Photo: Courtesy of Amy Carlston Photography.
"Like most brides, I spent a lot of time on Pinterest. But, I soon developed this love-hate relationship with the site, so I eventually just shunned the whole wedding-theme thing"
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Photo: Courtesy of Amy Carlston Photography.
"We found almost all of our candle containers, serving dishes, and picture frames from various thrift stores in Georgia and California."

Glasses: Folklore Vintage Rentals.; Table, Chair & Plate Rental: Baker’s Party Rental.
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Photo: Courtesy of Amy Carlston Photography.
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Photo: Courtesy of Amy Carlston Photography.
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Photo: Courtesy of Amy Carlston Photography.
The bride's industrious family baked the cake!
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Photo: Courtesy of Amy Carlston Photography.
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Photo: Courtesy of Amy Carlston Photography.
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Photo: Courtesy of Amy Carlston Photography.
"The days leading up to a wedding are pretty stressful for most brides. I had my breakdowns, but most of them were because it was difficult to feel such an array of emotions. It meant so much that so many people tried to help make my dad a part of our wedding day — it really helped take that pain away because I felt his presence there the entire time."
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Photo: Courtesy of Amy Carlston Photography.
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Photo: Courtesy of Amy Carlston Photography.
"The best piece of advice I got for wedding planning was from my sister. She told me to pick three things that I really wanted for my wedding, focus on making those happen, and then if everything else didn’t work out, just try and let it go."
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Photo: Courtesy of Amy Carlston Photography.
"The best part of our wedding was having all our family and close friends there. That was the one thing that was so important to us. We had about 85 guests and I loved the intimacy of the entire evening."
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Photo: Courtesy of Amy Carlston Photography.
The bride changed into an Urban Outfitters dress for her sparkler-lit exit.
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Photo: Courtesy of Amy Carlston Photography.
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Photo: Courtesy of Amy Carlston Photography.
"I really wanted a dress that I loved and felt beautiful in, a pretty outdoor venue, and an amazing photographer. When things felt like they weren’t coming together, I focused on those great things and knew it would still be wonderful. Marriage really is the absolute best."
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