Why ‘I Do.’

 head due north

Why ‘I Do.’ is a look into the wonderful people behind – and sometimes even in front of – the veil who make weddings happen flawlessly, beautifully, punctually and in good spirits.  These are the hard working and passionate individuals who make dreams come true and this is an opportunity to shine the light upon them, learn what makes them tick, what inspires them and what they each love about what they do.  In essence, it’s a glimpse into why they have each chosen ‘I Do’ as their path.

Elizabeth Dye

What’s your and your business name and what role do you play in the bridal industry?

Elizabeth Dye is my name and my brand. I’m a fashion designer specializing in non-traditional bridal gowns.

How long have you been at it and why did you choose this career angle?

I designed my first dress for a client in 2002.  Hard to believe, but this is my 20th year on the job!  And it chose me.  I did one year of law school, realized it was a wrong turn and found myself in Portland, Oregon (my hometown) without a plan.  I took sixteen different freelance gigs to pay student loans while figuring out my next steps and made my first wedding dress for a friend from grad school.  Twenty years ago there weren’t many “indie” wedding dress options and anyone who wanted something simple, modern, or otherwise non-traditional was kind of out of luck.  So, with all the confidence of a cocky twenty-something I was like, “How hard could it be?”  I slowly became known for making wedding dresses, word spread and here we are.

What’s your favorite part of what you do?

My favorite part of what I do is seeing my dresses make my clients feel joyful and beautiful.  It’s an honor to play a part in such a momentous occasion and that thrill never goes away.

What inspires you personally, creatively, or professionally and fills up your tank?

I’m personally inspired by my Pacific Northwest home, the way of life here and the more relaxed, personal approach to weddings.  It’s weirdly at odds with my design style, which trends toward bold and extravagant, but that’s a creative and productive contrast for me.  I love taking a big, fantastic dress out into the wild and photographing it, or watching someone dance barefoot and get messy in one of my gowns.

What does a dream wedding and/or client look like for you?

I love a client who is confident, imaginative and who wants an amazing dress that reflects a personal vision rather than a cookie cutter social media standard.  If the goal is expressing authenticity and beauty rather than “perfection,” the process and the result are so much more meaningful.

What’s your super power?

I’ve become very good at reading people and being intuitive around what they need.  My clients are (usually) choosing a wedding dress for the first time (whereas I’ve made literally thousands) and the whole journey is emotional, bewildering, and sometimes alienating.  Not everyone naturally envisions themselves as “a bride” and so I’m here to help them navigate and arrive at something that feels special, personal and right.

Do you have a very favorite wedding memory that stands out above all of the others?

When I was first starting out, I sold wedding dresses on Etsy, including one to a woman getting married in a small Italian town outside Milan.  I shipped the dress directly to the wedding location (via USPS!) and it got lost somewhere in the Italian postal system.  Rigid with panic, I went down to my local postal branch and explained the emergency to the worker behind the counter.  Incredibly, he told me this: “Tell her to get a male relative to go to the central post office in Milan with a bottle of wine and explain the problem.”  I relayed this dubious advice to my bride and IT WORKED.  The dress was found and all was well. 

What can’t you arrive at a wedding without having in your bag?

I’m rarely at the actual wedding, but stain remover, needle and thread, travel steamer and garment tape always come with me to shoots and events. 

Any standard industry things that you wish would go away?

I’ve been waging a campaign against ‘the white dress’ for a while now.  I don’t hate it, but it has a kind of tyranny in this industry that deserves to be questioned.  I’ve had dozens of clients express elation and relief that when they discovered my work they realized they didn’t ‘have to’ wear white.  I’m pro-inclusivity for weddings — everyone deserves to express love and celebration in ways that feel real to them.  And if that means a red dress, then let’s do it!

What’s the most important thing you would like current or potential couples to know about you?

I put many, many hours into each dress I create.  In addition to materials and my expertise, my time and attention is what you’re really paying for.  It’s a totally different experience than buying a ready-made dress from a big company, which is mass produced in a factory overseas.  You get to enjoy the experience of communicating directly with the designer and customizing the dress to your specific preferences.  If there were ever a time to have a garment made specially for you, a wedding is that time.

Without naming names, are there any upcoming weddings that you are really excited about?

I have a couple of weddings this season that involve surprise costume changes. I think the ‘second look’ trend is cool.  It gives the bride a chance to cut loose a bit as the night wears on.  There are some pretty splashy fabrics on the cutting table at the moment — maybe even some feathers!

Anything else you want to share?

I advise anyone planning a wedding to HAVE FUN and downplay pleasing others.  Couples can get ambushed by the opinions of friends and family regarding wedding details and there can be a lot of pressure to meet their expectations.  Be your partner’s best ally and make the celebration you two want.  That atmosphere of solidarity is a great way to start a marriage!

One other thing I’d like to share is that I design a line of caftans under the label Caftan Summer.  They’re in every way the polar opposite of wedding dresses — breezy, easy, wildly patterned and non-fitted.  It’s a way for me to play as a designer and be creative with shapes and fabrics I don’t usually get to use.  I sell them on my website and at Caftansummer.com.

What’s your preferred way and info to be reached?

elizabethdye.com, @elizabethdyeinfo@elizabethdye.com


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