My best friend got to marry his best friend this summer and I got to make her gown. My brother Shawn is not only my best friend, but he is my favourite friend. He makes everything better. He makes everything important. He makes everything funny. My favourite memories frequently have him as a protagonist.
Shawn is the kind of man who treats everyone as an equal, who is endlessly curious, who will go out of his way to do any thing, for any one, at any time. He is equally as hilarious as he is intellegent. I know he will make a great husband and partner because he is loyal, passionate, playful and nurturing.
When picking a mate, I was always more picky than I think Shawn would ever want me to be, but I couldn’t help it, the best deserved the best. In the past I was always the first one to know what was going on in Shawn’s life, anytime we were excited about something, we would call each other to share the news. So I was shocked to hear how Shawn had brought “his friend” to Salt Spring to meet our parents and attend a (super intimate and romantic) concert on Duck Creek Farm. I was suspicious, who was this chick? Why had I never heard of her?
The start of our relationship was a little unorthodox to say the least, he was my manager at the restaurant we both worked at, our relationship had to be kept secret from our coworkers and bosses. Having both just ended long term relationships, we decided to extend that secrecy to the rest of our lives so we could figure out what we were to each other without the pressure of the outside world. It didn’t take long to realize that we were falling in love. We finally came out of the closet at the request of his sister
I decided to host a Thanksgiving dinner and insisted Shawn bring his new “friend”.
Shawn invited me to a Thanksgiving dinner. I’ve never been more nervous to meet someone than I was to meet Kristi. I knew that a ‘yes’ from Kristi was going to be an important one.
Shawn’s new friend arrived with 2 pies in hand- great sign. She was beautiful, luminous in fact. Curly hair, twinkly eyes and an incredibly warm and kind smile. She gave me a big squeeze of a hug. I liked her right away.
As my relationship with Shawn grew stronger and closer, my interactions with Kristi became more frequent. I learned quickly that her fierce passion and love for the world fueled her more tangible passion- clothing. With my first Qube purchase, I knew I was hooked.
Every time I saw Paige, in real life, in photos, on FaceTime and anywhere else, she was wearing at least one piece of Qube, I’m not exaggerating.
Qube is the first clothing line that I had ever experienced being 100% comfortable with every purchase. Wearing Qube makes me feel excited, beautiful and comfortable; I feel the love in every piece I wear. I feel proud that my closet is now filled with beautiful, handcrafted pieces from one of my favourite people.
One warm summer evening while sitting on the rooftop of our shared studio space, Shawn and I were having a cold bevvy when he told me he wanted to ask Paige to marry him. I was not surprised, Paige felt different right from the start, she had to be something special to have been kept a secret for so long. She is the perfect blend of creative, spontaneous, intellectual, goofy, athletic and imaginative, not only that, but she fully embraced and enhanced everything we all know and love about Shawn. I love Paige, I love the way she loves my brother and the way he loves her.
It was a clear cool September night when Shawn asked me ‘do you love me so much that you want to marry me?’ We were on the boardwalk in front of The Chateau Frontenac in Quebec City. No, I didn’t cry. I was too excited and much too happy to cry. I would have married him in that second, on that boardwalk. That same night I asked Shawn an important question too ‘do you think Kristi would make my wedding dress?'
I was missing Shawn, he and Paige were on a road trip across Canada. I knew he had planned to ask Paige marry him on this trip but I didn’t know when or where it was taking place. My phone started ringing, it was Shawn on FaceTime. He and Paige were both in the frame, beaming. They walked me through how it all went down. I was so proud of my big bro for locking down Halle Berry. Once we caught up it settled in that not only was my best friend getting married, I was getting a new sister! I was the first to cry, then she asked if I would make her gown, then I really cried. My boyfriend thinks I’m overdramatic and that I emotionally overwhelm myself, he is right, I can’t help it, I love love so much it makes my heart hurt. I could hardly wait for the newly engaged couple to get home so we could talk shop. I was so curious what Paige was envisioning.
I had a very specific vision in mind. I wanted a tulle skirt and a lace bodice with a V in the front and a V in the back. That being said, I had no ideas about the details of the dress. I tried on a slim, netter tulle ivory skirt, it was perfect. So I asked my trusted designer if I should buy the skirt and have her fashion the bodice for me. I got the go ahead from Kristi and we began to share ideas.
Paige and I went lace shopping in Vancouver, we found this gorgeous, beaded ivory lace that spoke to the bride. I love lace shopping, it is such a personal thing. Once we had the fabric I was even more excited to get started on this project.
Kristi and I spent months exchanging photos of wedding dresses. My requests stated simple and straightforward, a V in the front and a V in the back, with no scalloped edges on the front. Kristi took my measurements and limited scope of what I wanted my dress to be like and went to work. Our first fitting was a true testament to how far our relationship had come from that first meeting at Thanksgiving. We were able to have an open and honest conversation about how we felt about the dress and the direction in which it was going. I had trusted Kristi, as my favourite designer to go with what felt right to her, and boy did she deliver.
With Paige in Vancouver and me on Salt Spring, our fittings were far and few between. The skirt didn’t need much work, she wanted a different waistband and to bring up the hem. The beaded bodice is where I spent 99%of my time. My sewing machine despises beads, which made me do most of the sewing with a needle and thread. There is no comparison to the tranquility and intention that comes with hand stitching. I was in heaven. Our first fitting was a very basic mock up of a concept. Our second fitting was on the Wednesday before their Saturday wedding. Eek! We were close, but still had quite a bit of work to do to get it fitting perfectly. I had a photographer that I completely admire come to capture this fitting, an unforgettable moment between two sisters to be. 3 days before the wedding, our final fitting. My mom, her mom, her sister Dayle and 2 cousins joined in. Paige stepped into the dress and turned for help with the zip, as a designer, there is an unbelievable sense of satisfaction when the zip zips with ease. Before facing herself in the mirror, Paige turned to the women in her life to see their reaction. There was not a dry eye in the house. My mom and I witnessed such tenderness and love between this family we were just getting to know. They looked at her, the little girl who had grown into a stunning woman and bride. We looked at her, my new sister, my moms new daughter in law, a force to be reckoned with. She turned to the mirror and had that feeling all brides wish for, the moment they see themselves as a bride.
Did I cry? Yes. I cried because in that moment, the dress became my dress. My perfect wedding dress. I cried because I could feel the love that was put into every hand stitched appliqué. I could feel the dedication that was put into making sure I got the dress I envisioned. I cried because I was enveloped in a piece of art that was lovingly crafted for me by my sister. I was surrounded by beautiful women who love and support me, I was finally ready to open the door to the newest chapter in my life in the perfect dress.
Using the left over fabric I designed a surprise for my new sister. I placed this surprise dress into a cake box with printed photos from our first fitting. When we first discussed what she wanted in a wedding dress we toyed with the idea of a tea length dress, we talked of chopping the dress after the ceremony to allow for more vigorous dancing and celebrating. After icing those ideas, I decided to make a party dress for her to change into if she wished. It had a beaded bodice, with a strappy crossed back that attached by Qube’s signature buttons; a short, flirty and voluminous skirt that had the bride spinning all night. I presented her with this present at our final fitting. She cried again. She was overwhelmed with all the love she deserved.
I love my dress because it was the first major collaboration between myself and my new sister. My favourite part of the dress is the lace. All of the lace, but especially the little lace cap sleeves. They were the perfect final touch. I love the lace V in the back and the way the neckline skimmed past my collarbones and onto my shoulders. I love the cut of the bodice down the sides, the shape is so pretty.
I am so lucky to have found a designer that understands what I want and need from my everyday clothing and even more lucky to have been able to translate that into the most beautiful wedding dress.
Paige’s dress was unlike anything I had ever worked on. The gown itself was challenging and rewarding but the sentiment behind the gown and the moments it created for the two of us are unparalleled. I look forward to growing old with you Mrs Lee. Thank you for loving my best friend unconditionally, falling in love with you has been Shawn’s favourite thing he has ever done and will continue to be his favourite thing as you navigate through this beautiful life.
Welcome to our family Paige Lee, and congrats on finding your forever love Big Bruv.
PS - I made my bridesmaid dress, which was so light, comfortable and beautiful. Each maid was in a different colour and style dress, no one saw eachothers dresses until the day of and we ended up surprisingly cohesive!