Mom made daughter's prom dress, wedding dress, and bridesmaid dresses – Insider
Ever since she was a little girl, Arabella Wardlaw could count on her mom to help her look her best on the days when it mattered most.
Whether it was a big theatre production at school, a dance recital, or even her senior prom, the Nashville-based school teacher told Insider that she and her older sister Phene could rest assured that no matter the event, their mom, Louise Wardlaw, used her sewing skills to ensure they were dressed the part.
It helped that Louise, 59, is an experienced couture designer and pattern cutter who only retired in 2018. Looking back, Louise spoke fondly of raising her girls while running her own dressmaking business: “It kept my sewing room busy.”
It didn’t come as too much of a surprise then that after Arabella, 26, got engaged to her boyfriend of nearly four years in 2022, she asked Louise for a helping hand in creating the wedding dress of her dreams.
And not only did her mom ultimately succeed in that task, Arabella said, but she went a step further in making her a rehearsal dinner dress, the dresses for her 10 bridesmaids, and the outfits for the flower girl and the ring bearer.
“She’s been making dresses for me since I was a kid, so I went into it knowing what she is capable of,” Arabella said. “But also she exceeded my expectations.”
Arabella and her husband, Chris Fumia, tied the knot in front of 250 guests at The Ranch in Laguna Beach, California planned by White Lace Events & Design. In the months leading up to the ceremony, both Arabella and Louise acknowledged there were difficult moments.
Wedding planning is stressful as it is without the added pressure of making sure the bride and her half of the wedding party have something to wear on the big day. And despite having made countless dresses for Arabella growing up, Louise said she “100%” felt the nerves knowing it was her wedding dress.
Arabella also said she didn’t exactly make it easy for Louise. “My mom will attest to say I’m probably her most difficult client just because I’m so particular,” she said.
“You couldn’t really make your mind up,” Louise said, jokingly. But looking back, the pair said it was a “surreal” journey to go on together.
The actual process started with Arabella trying on dresses at bridal stores and sending photographs of design elements she wanted to Louise, who expertly recreated them using her sewing machines.
Bit by bit, Louise brought Arabella’s dream wedding dress to life: a simple, yet elegant gown featuring intricate lace detailing around the bodice and an open back. On the big day, Arabella said a brooch worn by all the women in the family on their wedding day was delicately placed at the back of the dress.
To add a “dramatic moment” for the ceremony, Louise created a long overskirt that hooked onto the dress at the waistline, Arabella said.
“It was so timeless and classic,” she added.
Perhaps more challenging for Louise was the prospect of creating 10 dresses for Arabella’s bridesmaids, who live across the US. With different opinions to consider, Louise said she initially worried the group wouldn’t agree on a style, which is why she came up with three samples.
“Remarkably, five picked the floral and five picked the solids,” Louise said. “It worked out perfect and was shockingly easy.” Better still, Louise said she can “crank out dresses quite quickly now” thanks to her experience, so making 10 dresses wasn’t as time-consuming as one may think.
Making clothes, especially for her loved ones, has been a lifelong passion for Louise. At the wedding, Arabella said her husband highlighted this during his speech by asking the guests to stand if they’ve ever had an item made or altered by Louise.
“It was just the whole audience,” Arabella said. Louise said she couldn’t help but get emotional at the sight.
“It’s funny because you never really think you can do it,” she said. “Then you look around the room and you’re like, ‘Sure, I made that.'”
Since then, Louise said she’s begun thinking her dressmaking days aren’t behind her after all – an idea that Arabella is in full support of.
“She always puts others first,” Arabella said. “She left her career in England to move to LA for my dad and then she had kids, so then she focused on her kids.”
The wedding, Arabella added, is proof her mom should pick up her sewing needles professionally yet again.
“It’s shown her, ‘Okay, I can do it,'” she said. “You can do whatever you want to do.”