Are you brave enough to wear a homemade wedding dress? What about one made from your whole wedding guest list? Well Becky Brotherhood did just that. Hen Heaven talked to hen and Eastbourne Bride, Becky, who got married on Saturday 28th October, on why she wanted to get the whole community involved in her big day.
What inspired you to make your own dress?
Standing in front of my soul mate at the age of 43, knowing that we both have rich histories and 6 children between us, it felt wrong to buy something new and off the shelf… it didn’t feel right and didn’t fit ‘us’ as a couple. One of the most special things about our love is that we love each other because of our pasts. They’re not something we have to look beyond or gloss over, and the family home we are both building right now is open and welcoming to everyone. We both have scars and losses- physically and metaphorically, and I wanted that to be reflected and held in every part of my dress, bravely, unashamedly, and with love.
Why did you decide to ask guests to make patches to make the skirt of your dress?
Again, I wanted it to feel like a tapestry of our lives… our children, our friends, and our families, and everyone who had made us into the people that we were -standing face to face vowing to spend the rest of their lives together. I wanted it to feel new and different … almost tribal, a coming together of everyone’s love and blessings for us, to hold me with every stitch. I made a few patches myself… I sewed into it an old piece of welsh slate from the quarry next to where I’d grown up, and also parents wedding rings so they could be with us on the day.
What do the patches mean to you?
Omg! The absolute world!! It isn’t even the finished result as much as the process!! In the month leading up to the big day, our doors were thrown open to all every weekend – it was patch workshop galore! It really felt Like a hen night that lasted every weekend for a month. Even seeing both my brother in laws glowing with pride at their efforts was a dream!
I honestly watched the whole project snowball into something that I was truly proud of … I didn’t think for a second that it would bring everyone together the way it did.
How did you get everyone to make them?
Initially everyone came feeling nervous and doubting their creativity… but a cuppa (and often a glass of wine) later and they were away… picking their fabrics, buttons, threads …and after a quick demo of my sewing machine they were away!! My step-daughter Elray became an absolute whizz on the sewing machine too, and quite happily involved herself instructing people if they got stuck! EVERYONE was proud of their efforts. it’s inspired 10 year old girls to make their own prom dresses one day, and some have even asked for a sewing machine for Christmas! I am so proud to have inspired this in the girls! Have to say too, that the workshops I did with the kids made me up my game in terms of dress style… being told “omg this is going to be better than an actual paid for wedding dress” by Clara made me feel that I could not fail to deliver… I wanted to show them what they could do if they put their minds and hearts into something. I hope I did that.
Some patches had to be sent away… even to Spain! as logistically not all could come to me… and everyone obliged and I was truly humbled by what I got back. I kept the dress secret from everyone until the day… and you know that usual bride/dress thing? The bit where everyone waits for its reveal? Well… they were ALL waiting to see what I’d done with their creation …. everyone OWNED it. And that was the best part about it all. It felt like I’d drawn everyone together, it did feel like a community tapestry of love and blessings…. truly special.
What materials did you use?
Nothing was bought brand new. Which makes it extra special for me. I’m a massage therapist and when telling clients about my dress plans, some willingly gave me old lace and buttons of old grandmothers and mothers, that had been in attics and old bags to breathe new life into them. I feel truly honoured. One client brought sparkly fabric all the way from Iran for me!
I also raided my mums old jewellery box for old beads, and the buttons I took off my sisters wedding dress that I was tasked to alter years ago to fit her growing pregnant tummy – they’re in there too!
Are you pleased with the finished result?
I couldn’t be prouder. It feels elegant and understated in cut, but full of love. I’d made the original pattern myself out of an old sheet I found in my attic that was left behind by the previous lady who lived at my house too… so even she contributed! I have always been interested in making stuff and am lucky enough to have an adjustable tailors dummy (bought for me for my 21st birthday by my mum and dad) as working block. Once I’d proved the pattern, I cut all the backing fabric – an old soft white cotton sheet – ready to sew the patches on to before sewing them all together.
It turned out ok! Even the registrars on the day were amazed at the love that had gone into it and it even got a registrars mention during the ceremony.
About the dress and Becky…
He knew she was secretly doing the dress and he made a patch (pic attached of him making it). She did an HND many years ago in dress making and then trained as nurse. Now she’s a full time massage therapist.
Nobody saw the dress until the big day though. Becky was escorted down the aisle by her son, Frank.
Some quotes from guests and husband, Lee.
Lee: It’s classic Becky – a lunatic/genius concept, so many variables that could’ve derailed it, all set against a ridiculous timeline – and she just casually nailed it. What’s more, it’s elemental, magical – more than the sum of its parts – an invocation and a miraculous snapshot of the universe that is my wife. It’s impossibly perfect – just like Becky.
Nadine: Beckys dress was so stunning and unique to the eye , but the real beauty being in the idea and her thought of creating a dress that everyone close to her had been a part of..just perfect
Kalpi: Here’s mine: Being part of an idea & not knowing what the end result would be was very exciting. Being able to create our individual reflections of Becky & Lee was a heart warming experience & then to see the finished ‘idea’, well that was truly breathtaking! It really was an honour to be part of it all.
Mirander: The idea of making your own wedding dress I could not see anyone other than Becky stepping up to this Monmouth task and nailing it…..the words I choose to describe the dress is beautiful, stunning, magical and mesmerising…thank you for letting me be a part of your dress x
Lauren: Loved the idea of everyone contributing to the dress. Although these patches were individually personal it was made more beautiful to include momentos from Becky’s parents. I think the cheque book stubs were my favourite addition, because their names were written into the dress.