Call it a true labor of love.
While most brides purchase their gowns from a bridal retailer, some brave and talented women opt to make their own dresses for the big day instead. Below, meet and marvel at 11 women who DIYed their wedding dresses in some way ― whether it meant airbrushing it by hand, sewing up a storm or crocheting the thing top to bottom.
"I crocheted my dress mainly during my daily bus commute to and from work over about five months. The commute was, on average, an hour per day, five days per week. I spent maybe 30 hours designing and sewing the custom satin lining that I wore under the crochet lace dress," bride Chi Krneta told HuffPost. "I didn't originally plan on having a crochet wedding dress, rather it began as a project to fill my commute time. As a young child I learned to crochet from my late grandmother so I thought it would be nice to incorporate this gift into my wedding dress. I also received much-needed help in adding finishing touches to the dress and liner from my husband's great aunt, who treated me like her granddaughter."
"From the moment I got engaged, I knew I wanted to make my own wedding dress. I'm obviously a big fan of all things DIY, and I've never been a woman who bought into the whole wedding-industrial complex," bride Laura Birek, who runs the blog Nocturnal Knits, told HuffPost. "The thought of buying an ill-fitting polyester dress for $1000+ didn't make me feel special. But just thinking about designing my own dress made me giddy with excitement, and I knew it would make me feel extra-special on my wedding day. And I was right! It took a ton of math (designing knitwear is a lot like writing code), a few false starts (I had to knit the bodice twice), and about 100 hours of knitting in front of the television!"
"The decision to make my own dress came from the fact that I didn't want to carry a long, heavy dress all night. I broke my spine a few years ago, so carrying light is better for me," bride Prudence Hoyte told HuffPost. "I decided to make a two-piece ensemble so that I could remove the weight after the first two hours. I have had a passion for sewing and designing for over 20 years. I have a diploma in fashion design and techniques, and I thought to myself, 'Why walk on the most important day of my life in someone else's design?' I knew I could do it and I went for it, putting in all that I've learned."
"This was my second marriage. My first husband died, and I knit heavy sweaters throughout his illness. I felt it was fitting for me to knit something light and beautiful for a joyous occasion. It brought a sort of healing for me," bride Emily Wharton told HuffPost. "My husband calls my dress my 'magnum opus.' It truly was the most difficult thing I have ever knit, and I was very careful to ensure that there were absolutely no mistakes in it, which meant I did a lot of ripping out and re-knitting."
"The entire process of making the dress began in mid-October 2014 and was finished moments before the ceremony in June 2015! All told, it took right around 1,000 hours to crochet, block, and assemble the lace, which used just over 7,000 yards of thread. The underdress was made of silver satin and was designed and assembled by Amy Jeskins, a London costumer and longtime friend of my husband," bride Tania Jennings wrote on her blog. She previously told HuffPost: “I spent most of the night before the wedding working on the dress, taking a little nap of an hour or two around 4 a.m. to recharge. I think everyone else was very anxious, as my bridesmaids kept asking me how I could be so calm. But for me crocheting is so relaxing that I just had to smile and keep going, knowing that the dress would tell me when it was ready.”
"For as long as I can remember, I have dreamt of designing my own wedding clothes," bride Kresha Bajaj, who designs for her own clothing brand Koecsh, wrote in a blog post on Miss Malini. In an interview with HuffPost in 2016, she described the wedding lehenga (or long skirt) that she embroidered with details of her own love story. “There’s a pattern in the middle of the lehenga which looks like chevron, but is actually a repeat of our names written in zari thread. Each kali (or panel) has a frame which depicts milestone moments from our life. So as you go around the lehenga from left to right, you can see our entire story unfold.”
“When I [finally] put the dress on, I was, for one, amazed that it looked exactly like what I thought it would look like in my head,” bride Abbey Ramirez-Bodley -- who spent eight months crocheting the gown with her aunt -- previously told HuffPost. “We didn’t have a pattern so it was hard — I couldn’t take the image I had in my head and give it to my aunt and say, ‘This is what I want.’ It was amazing. It was emotional. [Especially] when you put that much time and love into something.”
"I have been a fashion designer in New York City for about seven years now, so I always knew I would design my own dress," bride Dominique Pearl told HuffPost. "I went to several different bridal salons to get some ideas of what I liked (I’m more of a tomboy than a girly girl), trying probably close to 50 dresses. I found a lot of dresses I liked, but nothing that I truly loved, so I knew I would have to create it. It took me about 50 hours in total to complete the dress, including fittings."
"I had lots of ideas for a dress I could make from scratch but this gown was so fantastic and it fit right into my ‘not buying anything new [for the wedding]’ rule since my best friend found it in a dumpster outside of the bridal shop where she worked. Of course I made it my own by altering it — changing the neckline from straight across to a deep sweetheart, changing the hem from straight to huge scallops," Melissa Castaneda, a dancer who also designs costumes, previously told HuffPost. "I added loads of rhinestones, lace and beaded appliqué, trim and piping. I spent a lot of time making this dress my own and I absolutely love how it turned out!”
"I got this dress at a discount store way in advance. I wouldn't have ever guessed I would ended up picking out a dress like this, SO bridal. I had never desired a traditional style but when I put it on, I felt like a bride, and once I added the color [with my airbrush], I felt like myself," creative bride Taylor Ann Linko wrote on her art blog. "At first, I was 99 percent sure I could do this. Twenty minutes into coloring, I thought I ruined my dress. It took a few days for me to regain confidence and work on it again." She added, "In the end, the shock and awe of my dress helped me feel calm and confident. My colorful personality was shining through and everyone there loved it. I wasn't trying to make some big statement -- it's as simple as wanting to wear something I felt beautiful in."
"Yes, I made my own wedding dress. After making [my sister-in-law] Katie and Melissa’s wedding dresses, I got engaged to my wonderful, amazing, handsome husband Charles," bride and bridal designer Brooks Ann Camper wrote on her blog in 2012. "So what does the wedding dressmaker design for herself?I knew I wanted a knee-length wedding dress. I am (less than) 5 feet tall and have never really felt comfortable in long gowns. I always feel like I look like I am playing dressup in someone else’s clothes. Plus, a short dress [was] appropriate for our daytime wedding, and to show off my legs and some cute shoes."
- This article originally appeared on HuffPost.