I had spent a couple of months at the beginning of this year contacting various Pakistani designers and online vendors for ideas of prices and designs, and spent a lot of time confused about what to go for. I narrowed down my choices to Karma, whose bridal dresses were more affordable for me, or spending the same amount for a non-designer and get more work added onto the dress. I didn't really feel the need to go to Pakistan and do my shopping there (although it may have helped me a lot more to see the designs up close) as I didn't want to spend too much money on flight tickets and didn't have the time to take off from work, and I was also fairly confident that I would be able to order online as I had done so many orders through vendors before.
In the end I decided not to go for a 'designer' outfit, it would have cost too much and I kept feeling that I would have to compromise and go for a lighter version of the outfit I wanted in order to fit my budget. I ended up getting my bridal and my mehndi outfit from someone who I have used several times before, and
I got my outfit from Ayesha from Kapray Shapray, who was a huge help with designing and finalising my outfit, and ideas for my bridal jewellery.
Here is my mehndi outfit again, you can also see more pictures from my mehndi here. I was very keen on a yellow bridal, wanting the traditional Pakistani look, but didn't want it to be too blocky in colour so added some coral pink, light orange and lime green accents to make it look more funky and break up the design a little. I chose light gold metal work all over, and lots of silk jamawar material in the skirt to finish it off.
One of my biggest problems when designing my outfit was narrowing down colours, especially ones which would compliment yellow without overpowering it, and which would be flattering on my skin tone. I spent a lot of time looking at colour wheels, looking at existing mehndi outfits and putting together colours on art and drawing programmes to see for myself what worked.
Below are a few ideas for colour combinations, I really liked the first one but found it difficult to incorporate off white with yellow and lime in a way that I liked. I also thought about not using yellow at all and looking at blues, greens and purples, but it didn't appeal to me as much as a yellow bridal did. In the end, I decided to go with a yellow outfit with coral pink, light orange and lime green (which reminded me a little of Starbursts!) which I was quite happy with.
A few of my friends and I joke about having folders of bridal pictures and ideas for our weddings, and in truth, having a folder of things I liked meant I didn't have to keep finding it online and it gave me a good pattern of things I liked. Having said that, I also felt a little overwhelmed because I liked TOO many things, there were so many designs which couldn't be merged together and meant I had to be brutal and pick a style I liked.
Here are a few ideas I looked at for inspiration, I'm sure you can see that there are a lot of long shirts and maxi dresses, lots of yellows, olives and pinks, and lots of sparky with dramatic duppattas. I didn't picky any one design out of these but rather took the styles of these - a mix of a few of my favourite designers like Bunto Kazmi, Nomi Ansari, Faiza Samee and Karma, all who make amazing mehndi outfits.
I decided to go for a knee-length kameez rather than an ankle length maxi or dress, as I found this easier to walk around in, and I also picked heavier work on the kameez and dupatta rather than the skirt. Ayesha (the designer who made my outfits) was a big help with her suggestions in colours and design, and sent me several examples of existing bridals she had made so I had an idea what to expect.
I also spent a short time looking around my local shops, so that I could see myself what worked welled and what colours looked good together. I'm lucky enough to have a whole street of boutiques and Asian wear shops around the area, so I was able to look at a whole range of designs.
One style which had really appealed to me was the angrakha or wrap style dress, which I didn't go for in the end because it wouldn't go with the work I wanted in the neckline - although I made up for this with one of my dholki outfits!
In the end I kept it simple. I wanted a kameez with a winding, flowery design across it and lots of small motifs, which was replicated on my scarf. The style was similar to a couple of Bunto Kazmi bridals I had seen and loved, and I added a panel of colours at the hem to make it more colourful and break up the design a little.
The process of ordering - swatches, samples, pictures and materials
Throughout my order, Ayesha kept me updated with pictures of the outfit as it progressed, sending me a colour swatch book and material swatches to make sure I knew the exact colours and types of silks I wanted. I had to fill out a very detailed measurements form which measured every aspect of the outfit requirements, and made sure there was a lot less room for mistakes. We got to a point where we emailed, whatsapped and texted nearly every day so that each aspect of the outfit was looked at thoroughly, and with each decision made, Ayesha would double check decisions and send pictures to confirm what I wanted.
I also emailed Ayesha detailed description of each part of the outfit, which was broken down by colours, types of work and designs I wanted. Below is an example of what I wanted on the skirt, for example (although this was adjusted around as the outfit was finally being made).
Eventually the outfits were made, the process of making took about 3 and half months, and Ayesha sent pictures of the whole outfit before it was posted. Admittedly, the design and ordering process took me longer than I thought, it was a little frustrating constantly looking at bridal designs (I remember feeling that I was going crazy!) and it was a relief to finally pay the deposit and stop looking at my designs!
The outfit was fast-tracked and couriered to me, and reached me about 3 days after posting, which was a huge relief because I didn't have to wait long. At the time, I was feeling stressed out about a lot of the wedding detail and the rest of the mehndi look like the hair, make-up and jewellery, so it felt good to get my outfit and use it to match everything else to. The best thing was that the outfit fit perfectly, and the design looked better in person than it had in pictures, it was really, really sparkly and felt amazing when I tried it on.
I've tried to include as much detail of my order as I can, and I'm sure I've missed a lot out; there is a lot to consider when dress-designing a bridal outfit and it can feel a little overwhelming - but try not to worry! If you have any questions please do leave a comment and I will reply as best as I can.
Overall I was really happy with my mehndi outfit and received a lot of compliments for it (a comments which made me smile were my married friends and sisters saying that they wanted to get married again just to wear the same outfit!) and the best part of the outfit was how bridal and yet very comfortable it felt, ). I'm aiming to get some coral coloured silk trousers made so I can wear the kameez again in future (hopefully it will still fit!), but in the meantime the outfit is wrapped up and has been put away!