The Dress Expert – One Dress or Two?

By Dominique Levesque

What’s your favorite style of dress?  Ball gown, mermaid, A-line? Maybe you like more than one dress? Every week I sit down with my staff to find out what my brides are asking for.  It’s important to me to have what you are looking for. One of the emerging trends we noticed is the bride choosing to have two dresses. You don’t have to compromise anymore.


In many religions and cultures, the change of clothing and accessories during a wedding celebration symbolizes the beginning of a new phase of life for that couple. For many of the brides we see it’s simply an extension of their vision.  They want to enjoy every minute on their terms with no compromise.  It’s a small luxury they will cherish for a lifetime.


Questions from readers:

Lindsay asked:

“When you buy your dress a year in advance or more, where is the best place to store the dress and in what conditions? In a bag for the whole year or air it out once in a while?”

That’s an awesome question because so many brides ask me the same thing.  Here are my guidelines for storage and why:

  1. It should be kept in a dark place like the back of a closet. Over time, the light can affect the color of the fabric and the embellishments
  2. It should be kept in a proper garment bag to ensure it remains free of dust
  3. It should be kept in a non-smoking home. Even though no one will be smoking in the bedroom closet, smoke gets in everything.  And the only way to get rid of that smell before the wedding is to have it dry cleaned. Over time, smoke can also alter the color of the dress. Many seamstresses will not want to work on the dress and the smell will transfer on the other dresses they are working on

For storing the gown after the wedding, it’s important to have your dress professionally cleaned by a cleaner who offers gown preservation services soon after the wedding.  Even if you see no apparent stains, residues of white wine or oil based salad dressing may not show immediately on your dress but over time your dress will have yellow spots and even holes, as oil can eat through the fabric.

Francine asked:

“Why is the size of my wedding dress different than what I normally buy?”

I love that question, because I understand your frustration.  In the garment industry there are a large number of standard sizing systems for various garments: tops, dresses, suits… Each manufacturer decides what will work best for them and the segment of the market they serve, which makes it really confusing for customers.

It is a common occurrence in main stream clothing brands and chain stores to vanity size their garments to create loyalty from their customer.  Who can blame them? I certainly would buy from a store where I fit in a smaller size.  I wish the bridal designers would adopt that practice.

Our bodies are also not standard, and often our top is not the same size as our hips or waist.  For example you can have a top size 8 a middle size 10 and a bottom size 12; our professional stylist will be able to show you the best size to take and how to alter the dress to fit perfectly.

About Dominique:

The Dress Expert

Dominique Levesque followed her dream to be a designer. Now she’s one of Ottawa and Gatineau’s biggest wedding and prom dress purveyors, and owns and operates Dominique Levesque Bridal Salons.

“Fashion is my life, and helping women find their outer beauty and inner confidence for their special day is my life’s work” – Dominique Levesque.

Do you have a question for Dominique? Please submit your question by email at or call one of the locations below for more information:
Ottawa: 1300 Carling, Ave. 613-321-1136
Gatineau: 319  rue Notre-Dame 819-643-1166

I Want a Church Wedding Without the Religion

By Rev. Alan Viau

Do you want a church wedding but are not thrilled with the religious requirements that comes with it? Brides and grooms today can have a church located wedding without the religion. There are more options than you think.

For some couples, part of their dream wedding is to have a marriage ceremony performed in a church. It is considered traditional just like marriage is traditional. However, religious organizations can ask for all sorts of requirements from a bride and groom before agreeing to marrying them in their place of worship.

Some of the most common requirements are:

  • You belong to their membership and follow their religion
  • You both attend a premarital course
  • You need to pay for the church rental, their organist and custodial services
  • You can’t have pictures taken during the service
  • You need to use their standard wedding ceremony with little choice in personalizing it
  • You are faced with rules about using decorations

These can be show stoppers for couples. Luckily there are options available where you can have a church located wedding.

Rent a Church

There are some churches that let you rent their space to have a non-religious wedding. I have performed weddings at Southminister United Church for example. They let you rent out their venue and you provide the officiant, decorations, musicians and photographers. It is worth asking a church to see if they would allow to you book their space.
All Seasons Weddings has a church in Kenmore

There are also former churches that are available. All Seasons Weddings has a beautifully restored former church available. St. Brigids in downtown Ottawa is a converted Catholic Church that is available as well.

Book a Venue with a Church

Some wedding venues have a church available where you can easily move from the ceremony to the reception. Beantown Ranch has a charming country chapel on their site. Once the ceremony is completed, it can be converted to a cocktail area.
Chapel at Beantown Ranch

The Cumberland County Museum has an old country church as part of their exhibits. You can have your wedding there and easily move to a tented reception area on-site. At The Schoolhouse in Munster has access to a church across the street from its reception facilities.

With these possibilities, you can have your dream wedding at a church without all the requirements that come with a religious institution. It really is the best mix of traditional and modern weddings to be able to personalize your wedding including having your own church location.

Photos by Alan Viau

Sarah & Jamie Spread the Love

Sarah and Jamie were married at the Courtyard Restaurant in the Byward Market. They were there with their cute son, Hugo, and all their favorite friends and family.

When I met Sarah and Jamie for their pre-wedding meeting, I was immediately taken by their little son, Hugo. He is a good natured boy who likes everyone – a reflection of his parents.

 Spread the Love

Spread the Love Strawberry Jam. Photo by Alan Viau

At the Courtyard Restaurant, I noticed that all the decor was very naturalist in theme. There was lots of wood, flowers and Mason jars.  I should not have been surprised since Jamie works as an arborist and has access to trees. They even made jam as a gift for the guests. It was labeled “Spread the Love”.

 Ladder Decor

Naturalist decor. Photo by Alan Viau

Before the ceremony, Sarah’s father takes me aside for a chat. He is wanting to say a few words after I ask who presents the bride today. I let him know that it is not a problem and inform Sarah of his intentions. I like having a well planned wedding where there are few surprises. When he did present her, he told Sarah how much he loved her, his new son-in-law and his wonderful grandson. A beautiful start to the wedding.


Sarah’s Dad giving them best wishes. Photo by Alan Viau

To add some humor in the ceremony, Sarah promised to put up with Jamie’s wood chips that he brings home and Jamie would collect her bobby pins in the apartment. It all added up to a relaxed wedding that ended with a fabulous kiss to start the cocktail reception.

 The Kiss. Photo by Alan Viau

The Kiss. Photo by Alan Viau


Photo by Alan Viau

 Photo by Alan Viau

Photo by Alan Viau

 Photo by Alan Viau

Photo by Alan Viau

 Photo by Alan Viau

Photo by Alan Viau

Top Tips for Buying Your Wedding Shoes

In terms of wedding couture, we all know that the dress steals the spotlight.  But you can’t forget that essential factor to complete the look – the shoes!  You would think with long wedding dresses that shoes wouldn’t be an important focus, but think again!  So many images are including, and even showcasing the bride’s shoes.  Short dresses  and high slits are also increasingly popular, giving all the more reason to find some amazing shoes for your big day.  You may think finding your dream shoes will be easy, but there are many things to consider – style, comfort, value…so here are a few tips to get you started.

First, think of the date of your wedding, ceremony location, and venue.  What type of shoes would be most comfortable?  Are you spending most of the day outdoors walking on grass or stone?  Very high heels may not be the appropriate choice.  Think about what height you are normally used to, and try not to go for something way out of your comfort range, especially on a day when you will be constantly on your feet.

Match your wedding colors and theme.  If your decor features an accent colour, that would be perfect for your shoe choice.  Your wedding bouquet colors would look fab with a similar color in your wedding shoe – it makes everything blend and go together nicely.  For themed weddings, there are countless shoe ideas.  You could have a lot of fun with this one.  You can find amazing shoes to match a vintage, beach, or bohemian wedding theme to name a few.

What season are you getting married in?  Many brides may not consider this, but in the middle of winter the last thing you want to walk around in are slingbacks or slip-ons. Your feet get can very cold, so find a shoe with a bit more coverage.  Perhaps a popular wedding boot for your pics, and then you could change into a pair of sexy shoes for the reception.

An important tip when trying on shoes is to remember that your feet will swell by the end of the day.  Shop for your shoes in advance and remember to wear them around the house every so often to break them in.  The last thing you want is to take your shoes out of the box for the first time and encounter blisters along the way.

One last tip, probably the most important, is to bring a second pair of shoes with you as you near the end of the night, preferably a flat, slipper or one you have worn for years.  Just like an outdoor wedding, you always need a back up plan.

Happy Shoe Shopping!

Very Superstitious

Something blue sewn onto a Vera petticoat

As you prepare for your wedding day, invites, flowers, guests lists, and scheduling are always top of mind. But superstition also plays a large part in a bride’s big day. Here in the US the, “Something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue” rule is commonly put into practice. Lets review some of the nuptial rules and traditions of brides around the world. Which ones will you keep in mind as you get ready to say “I Do”?

– English lore says that a bride will have excellent luck in marriage if she finds a spider in her gown on the day of her wedding.

– In ancient Rome, a bride’s veil was meant to disguise her from evil spirits who, jealous of her happiness, would try and do her harm on her wedding day.

– Greek cultures insist that the bride tuck a sugar cube into her glove before tying the knot so as to make her marriage all the more sweet.

– One Indian matrimonial fable states that if a cat eats from the bride’s or groom’s left shoe a week before they are to be wed then the two will have great luck in marriage.

– Unexpected rain showers are commonly associated with wedding disasters, but according to Hindu tradition it is in fact a sign of good luck!

Content derived from the Vera Wang Blog, Vera Unveiled

Fall 2013 Bridal Show: All About Lace

Content derived from the Vera Wang Blog, Vera Unveiled
Photography: Dan Lecca

The 2013 Fall Bridal Collection reflects an exploration of laces all hand-wrought, pieced, appliquèd and tossed onto an assortment­­ of light, airy confections with a casual nonchalance. This study in femininity and romance celebrates the wedding gown in a new take on classicism and ornamentation

Look 1: Strapless mermaid floating lace gown over web lace with horsehair and tulle shrug
Look 2: Strapless corded bodice ball gown with lace and organza wave flange skirt. Floral corsage at hip.
Look 3: Draped tulle and Chantilly lace bodice ball gown with crystal and organza embroidery details
Look 4: Strapless modified ball gown with ribbon embroidered bodice and textured organza skirt over honeycomb crinoline. Silk organza hand rolled petal collar at neck.


Look 5: Strapless draped tulle bodice ball gown with crystal embroidery accented by floating pleated detail at the hip
Look 6: One shoulder drop waist classic lingerie inspired ball gown with hand pieced organza petal details and floating tulip and rose lace accent.
Look 7: Floating corded leaf and embroidered circular lace strapless mermaid gown with bias organza and lace flange detail accented by crystal and pearl cluster embroidery at hip. Basketweave silk gazaar corselette under bust.
Look 8: Corded leaf lace over web lace modified mermaid gown with hand appliqued lace accents and English tulle and horsehair flange at train. Silk organza hand rolled petal corsage at neck. Silk organza corselette at waist
Look 9: Strapless micro flange bodice modified ball gown with silk organza and mixed lace wave flange skirt. Blossoming hand rolled organza petal corsage at waist.
Look 10. Strapless floating tulip and rose lace ball gown with open back and classic corset detailing
Look 11: Stretch mikado mermaid gown with floating tulip and rose lace overlay accented by table pleated organza rosette skirt.
Look 12: Strapless modified ball gown with Chantilly lace bodice accented by organza petal and pearl embroidery with hand draped textured organza skirt over English tulle wave flange detail. English tulle and horsehair ruffled collar at neck.
Look 13: Floating Chantilly lace ball gown with bias organza and tulle wave flange detail. Basketweave gazaar bralette with classic lingerie details.
Look 14: Tulip Chantilly lace mermaid gown with hand pieced circular flange train and mum garden hemline. Silk organza mum and tulle corsage at neck.
Look 15: Strapless ball gown with ribbon embroidered bodice and silk organza floating flange skirt accented by lace applique detail at hem.
Look 16: Strapless drop waist modified ball gown with corded leaf lace bodice and swirling bias cut table pleat flange skirt. Silk zibeline corselette at waist.


Walking Down The Aisle – Wedding Shoes

How to choose the shoes (or do the shoes choose you?)

Courtesy of the Ottawa Wedding Show Blog

Though with a long dress, veil and train almost no one will ever really see your footwear it is important to consider what shoes make the best choice for a bride to wear on her wedding day. Never select the shoes to wear on your wedding day until you have chosen a wedding dress. The shoes should be in keeping with the style of your wedding dress, i.e. if your dress is traditional or formal your shoes should be also. If you are being married on a beach then perhaps more of a fancy sandal look might be appropriate.

The height of your shoes is very important. If your wedding dress is floor length then you want to be sure that whatever the height of your shoes is your dress still touches the floor. Once you have selected your wedding dress it is a good idea to try your shoes on with your dress while you can still have alterations made to the dress. If the shoes make the dress too high then you may have to reconsider your selection of footwear. If your shoes end up being more flat and the dress is dragging on the floor then your dress can be altered and likely hemmed up.

The biggest consideration when picking out shoes to wear for the big day is comfort. If your wedding is in the morning or early afternoon, followed by photos, cocktails, reception and dance you could be standing on your feet for more than 12 hours. That is why comfort has to be the biggest consideration but you can still find very comfortable shoes that are still fashionable. Depending on the material of your shoes some will naturally be more forgiving and comfortable than others. Many bridal shoes are fashioned out of a plastic base with silk and lace attributes to coordinate with the dress. Real leather is by far the best choice as not only does it breathe but it will stretch and accommodate your feet if they swell later in the day.

The height of your heel will also contribute to how comfortable you are feeling by the time the dancing starts. Many a tall bride has to consider the height of her shoes if she is as tall (or taller) than the groom. One of the most comfortable shoes in this case is white ballet slippers. The trick to having really comfy ballet slippers (more so than with other shoes) is to buy them ahead of time them and wear them often inside while doing things that won’t scuff or mark them (like watching TV). Over several weeks the ballet shoes will become like slippers and your feet will feel great for the big day even into the evening and dancing.
Some brides want their shoes to match the shoes of their attendants. Something to consider when choosing shoes would be if these will be “one use” shoes. Your attendants may want shoes that are leather-like (as opposed to silk/satin) and classic styling allowing them to use them on other occasions.

When selecting your shoes to wear on your wedding day, go shopping late in the day when your legs are tired and your feet a little swollen. Shoes selected at the end of the day are a much better fit than shoes selected in the morning when your feet are the least swollen. The right shoes will mean that you will enjoy your wedding day because when your feet are tired and/or hurt it wrecks everything even the most perfectly planned day.

Trend Alert! Wedding Dress Trends

In 2012, we have seen a lot of bling on wedding dresses as well as big skirts. These ornately embellished skirts sport ruffles, beaded belts, flowers and/or lace. Many of the most striking wedding gowns shown at New York bridal shows featured skirts that were not only voluminous, but also had very heavy embellishments.

Here are the top six trends in bridal wear for fall:

1. Ruffles. Ruffled wedding gowns are still huge. From ball gowns to trumpet gowns, there is every kind of ruffle you can imagine — horizontal, vertical and torn-looking, even some that look like tumbleweed. These can be great for every body type, with some terrific styles for curvy brides!

2. Flowers. Oversized three-dimensional flowers are one of the most impressive accents in the fall 2012 and spring 2013 wedding dress collections. While the concept has been shown in previous years in a few haute couture lines, the detail will be much more widely available in wedding gowns across all price points.

A gown with huge flowers on the skirt would be stunning for a spring or summer bride. For brides who want an embellished skirt that is a bit less exuberant, look for gowns that are accented with delicate flower petals. The petals are usually created from lightweight organza and flutter gracefully all over the skirt. This is a delightful effect for a garden wedding. The slightly more subdued effect of the three-dimensional petals will be sweet for a petite bride who might find herself overwhelmed by one of the oversized flower appliquéd skirts. After all, it is always more important to find a wedding gown that suits the individual bride than it is to adhere slavishly to trends.

 3. Beaded belts. Look for more gowns with beaded belts and accents at the natural waist. This is a great detail to have on a plus size wedding gown because it helps to create structure and a focal point on the body.


4. Lace. What you’ll see mostly are fantastic lace trumpet wedding gowns. They are fitted through the bodice and thighs, have a generous skirt and are covered in lace.

5. Pleated organza. Another take on the oversized embellishment trend is large concentric circles of pleated organza. Brides who know their wedding history will be reminded of the famous bridal gown worn by legendary bride, Jacqueline Bouvier, when she wed John F. Kennedy. The design is updated with light organza, which helps to keep the gown from being too heavy. The three-dimensional design on the skirt is usually balanced with a simple strapless bodice with shirring. The shirring is just enough interest to hold up to the eye-catching design of the skirt without competing. A strapless neckline looks best when it is enhanced with dramatic handmade wedding jewelry.


6. Tiered skirts. Tiered skirts with plenty of volume are also a key trend. The tiers are often done over very full skirts, and can be used with either a natural waistline or a mermaid cut gown. Further accents in the form of appliqués and beading on the tiers are also part of the look. Truly, there is no such thing as “too busy” for the upcoming season of wedding dresses. Crystal beading is particularly favoured with the tiered skirt gowns, and lends itself to being paired with handmade crystal bridal jewelry for the wedding day.

There will be plenty of other fabulous new wedding gown trends on the horizon for spring 2013. Watch for them.

Behind the Dress: Joy

Strapless collapsed A-line gown with veiled chantilly lace bodice and organza scallop skirt.

I like to think of this dress as the good witch of my collection. It’s a gown that just floats, airily and totally dream-like, but with a structure to all that lightness that defines the shape in a way that every bride dreams about.

What I love about this dress is that it combines the best aspects of two classic bridal silhouettes, the mermaid and the A-line gown. It’s cut very close to the body, just like a column, grabbing the body very tightly around the waist and hip and cinching in at the back. Then there’s a very rigid, strapless corset bodice with visible boning that is covered with a chantilly lace applique and veiled with asymmetrically-draped tulle. That gives it a beautiful sense of movement, almost like a brushstroke.

But for all that figure-hugging structure in the top half of the gown, the skirt itself is quite soft. It’s made entirely of floating organza scallops, all veiled with tulle as well. What is especially seductive about this dress is a slit in the front skirt, ever so slightly hidden behind layers of tulle. You can see just a hint of leg—not too much, because the slit doesn’t go all the way up—but it still has a very flirty, fun, whimsical feel to it. After all, my philosophy has always been that ultimate seduction is in what you conceal, not reveal.

From the nude laces, to the tulle, to the cor

set boning: all of these elements are very reminiscent of the seductive beauty of fine lingerie. You can see why I find it such a provocative inspiration: it brings to life what’s out of sight, but only through fantasy and suggestion and playfulness. And that’s so stirring to the imagination.