I didn’t set out to make wedding dresses, but over the years, I developed the experience to do just that. I interned with Vera Wang in college, perhaps the most renowned bridal designer, but at the time it was simply the most well known designer I was able to earn an internship with. At Vera Wang I learned how to push the concepts of design. I observed their unique talent to challenge the idea of traditional bridal beauty and create something timeless. Following college, I worked for Suzanne Perron in New Orleans. Again, not seeking to work in bridal, but because Suzanne was the best designer in the area. Suzanne taught me how to build couture gowns. I practiced construction techniques that I still use to this day. I started my own line, not to make wedding dresses, but to develop a sustainable design portfolio. Yet, without really meaning to, I’d been trained in bridal design. So, when friends started to ask me to make their wedding dresses, I was beyond honored and prepared to accept.
I met Lianne in 6th grade at Episcopal High School. We’ve remained friends through college at LSU, and to this day. When Lianne asked me to make her wedding dress in 2019, I had been working on Gretta Garments for about a year. Lianne was a supporter from the very start. The very same week that Bekah Hall messaged me about making her wedding dress, Lianne did as well. I’m not sure what was in the air that week, but It was just like that. The thing I’d never set out to do, but had been training for all along, was right in front of me. Suddenly I was to become a bridal designer. The #grettabride was made.
This year I’m going back to the start of Gretta Bridal. I’ll be talking with every Gretta Bride and reminiscing about their wedding days. You’ll get the insight on all things wedding. What inspired their looks and decors, to their favorite moments on the day itself. Bekah, being the incredible writer that she is, had to write the first story. I approached Bekah about creating a Gretta blog, and she was delighted to write on her own wedding day and experience with Gretta Garments. She inspired me to develop this Q&A to connect with other Gretta Brides. Unlike Bekah, I haven't written anything since school, so bare with me while I try to live up to her talent.
Up first, Lianne McDaniel. November 21, 2020
I had a phone call with Lianne this Fall. She’s now living in Nashville, where her husband, Ben, records with his band, NAWAS, and she is studying interior design. I paraphrase our conversation below.
How did you and Ben meet?
We initially met at spring break, freshman year. It was just friend vibes, but quickly after spring break, we got set up for a Tri-delt function. It was one of the ones where your friends pick your date. The year after that, we’d hang out sporadically. Usually in a small group setting.
By spring of the next year, Ben moved to New Orleans to do music with Jake (his now band mate.) Soon after the move I realized ‘wait, I miss my buddy.’ I realized I’d started to catch feelings a little bit at that point… I Invited him and another friend to come with us to Bonnaroo. Right after Bonnaroo we started seeing each other… There was always a little something there. I’d known he had a crush but I was still playing it cool.
all photos by Emily Fuselier
Tell me about the proposal.
We were home for Christmas break. It was at the Lake Beau Pre apartment where he used to live during college. His family still owned the apartment, and his sister was staying there with her husband since they had just moved back to Baton Rouge. She decorated the apartment with flowers and set up champagne. That day we went to multiple Christmas parties. Ben kept saying we NEEDED to go visit his sister.
After all the Christmas parties, exhausted from the day, I put on PJs and a sweatshirt and we headed to the apartment. Rachel and Nate were not at the condo. We walked in and saw all the flowers, and he proposed. He’d had the ring in his pocket all day. We celebrated with champagne, and then went to my parents house where my family was waiting to celebrate.
And so the plans began! An outdoor wedding, November 21, 2020, at the LSU Botanical Garden. Under the pavilion, with flowers and lights… and then, COVID-19.
What plans changed? What stayed the same?
When we realized we were going to have to change course because of Covid, my parent's house was the 1st and only place I really wanted to get married. I’d lived there since I was 4 when my parents built the house. We’d always had parties there. Christmas, Easter, Crawfish Boils. Even just having over neighbors and friends. It would be special and it just made sense. Plus, I love my parent's outdoor area. My Dad loves landscaping, and has created a great green space.
We wanted to keep the original date, and then maybe have a larger party one year later. Our plans from LSU Botanic Garden were the jumping off point. We wanted it to be outdoors. The same colors were carried over through with our linens and flowers, just smaller. The vision stayed the same.
How did you choose Gretta Garments for your bridal gown? Did not try on anything else?
I had a pretty clear idea of what I wanted, silhouette wise; simple, clean, more form fitting, slip dress vibe with a lower back. I think that because I had a pretty good vision, I wasn't envisioning myself going and trying on gowns. In my mind that meant poofy and lace. Something in me just kept thinking ‘what if I get Grace to make my dress? I know she could do it.’ I was a little nervous actually that it was going to be an imposition or feel weird that I asked. But once you were all in, I was like awesome, ‘this is meant to be.’ I felt really good about it. I knew it was going to be more special, made just for me. It was the best decision and it is one of my favorite parts of my wedding.
Do you feel like what we ended up with was what you imagined?
I think in a lot of ways, the silhouette was what I wanted and imagined, but I don't think I could have envisioned the cool beading. It was something that I haven't seen before. I do love that it took a life of its own, and we ended up making something new together versus just picking a dress and us recreating it.
Do you remember the design process?
I was living in Nashville, so we scheduled all our fittings when I was in town. We tried on the first muslin sample at my parent’s. We were still figuring out the design,and that’s when you showed me the beading. Getting married outside in November, I was struggling to bridge the gap between time of year and actual temperature. Being in Louisiana, it can still be 75 degrees late November. The beading was absolutely beautiful and I loved that it gave it a more wintery feel. So, the beading was added for our next fitting at your 1st studio (a.k.a. an extra bedroom mid renovation at my parents house). It made it more unique and perfect than I had imagined.
The next time I came into town for my bachelorette party, and my parents had Covid so I couldn't even go home. You came to my cousin’s house, and that's when we decided to lose the extra padding in the bust. Once we took that out, the whole thing came together. It looked more fitted and smooth. The next time I put it on wasn't until the week of the wedding.
Seeing as I had never done this before, I hadn't learned all the tricks and things to double check. I made Lianne’s dress too short and she had to wear flats! It has haunted me since 2020, and I have added extra inches to every bride’s hem since…
How did you feel about the flats?
HAHA! I loved it. It was totally fine. I really didn't care. Honestly at all. I'm someone who is more interested in the dress than the shoes. I was comfortable. Plus, even though Ben is tall anyway, I liked feeling tiny on my wedding day.
Now, let’s hear about the wedding day!
We got ready at my Aunt’s house. A couple of my other aunts, who weren't going to the wedding, came over to give kisses and well wishes. We had to keep the wedding to a bare minimum guest list. I put on the dress when we got to my parents, and we took photos. Ben and I did a “1st look.” He loved the dress. Seeing him was a sigh of relief. Even though it was small and at my parents house, there was still the anticipation and nerves. Seeing him I was like ‘ok. I feel good. I know why I'm here.’ He’s just a calming presence. It was really good to finally see him and get excited about what was about to happen!
We took all the family photos before the ceremony too. I still thought at this point that we would have a bigger reception later, so I felt weird about things being too “weddingy.” So, after we got those initial photos I actually told the photographer she could go.
What were some of the most special/memorable moments on your wedding day?
Once the sun went down, we had all these lights glowing. Seeing my parents backyard transformed into a reception area was really special. It looked gorgeous. I was so excited with how everything turned out. Ben’s friend's sister (Moonbeam Fleurs) had done the flowers, and they were amazing.
Dancing with my family was super memorable. I made the wedding playlist. I tried to pick a special song for each person that was there. This one John Hiatt song came on that felt special to sing along with. My Dad got emotional. It was the best to dance and celebrate together.
Were there specific vendors you enjoyed working with?
Caryn Roland, from Heirloom Cuisine. We’ve worked with her several times as a caterer. She did my sister’s wedding and another party. Having that familiar face at our wedding was special. She even added an oyster app for us as a wedding gift. She always goes above and beyond.
When did you decide you wouldn't have the bigger party?
After, but pretty much immediately after. I was like ‘I'm good,’ I felt very complete. Not that I didn't want to do it again, but it would have felt over indulgent. I got what I needed, and really enjoyed it. The only reason we were going to have another reception was because I didn't get to have everyone there, all my family, all my closest friends. I was feeling a lack beforehand, but after the smaller wedding, there really wasn't a lack there. I felt very fulfilled. I had my wedding, specific to me and couldn't be happier.
For those of us who love Lianne and Ben, we did get to celebrate! That year and beyond. Their marriage is a treasure, and this wedding will especially remain near and dear to my heart. Thanks for bringing Gretta Bridal to life, Lianne. #grettabride