Friends Ava Hansen and AlexSandra have filled a much needed void in both the vintage realm and the bridal realm: a ‘marriage’ of the two. Their project, the Portland Vintage Bridal show, is a wonderful event that caters directly to the vintage woman tying the knot. “We thought about splitting a booth at the Portland Bridal Show, but we realized that wasn’t our audience,” says AlexSandra, “we didn’t want to be part of the Wedding Industry Complex” a phrase they have coined, “We want to offer an opportunity to help brides be more sustainable.” So they put their skills to work and put together a fabulous, close-knit event that focuses on going vintage for weddings. “The first one was excellent,” says Ava speaking of the first show last year, “Our event gives brides an opportunity to go out of the box and be unique.”
When asked what are the advantages to going vintage, Ava said there are many advantages, “being unique, getting an more authentic look. It’s more glamorous, and brides can kick their wedding up a notch.”AlexSandra agreed and pressed that shopping for a vintage wedding gown is a much more pleasant experience and results in a better product,”when you buy a vintage dress, you’re getting a dress that is made with better material than what dresses are made of today, plus you’re supporting the local economy…when you shop vintage, you are buying something that has generally been union made, made in the USA, and not with slave labor,” says AlexSandra.
Vintage Dresses: The Dos and Don’ts
So, you’ve decided to become a vintage bride…where to start? “The dress,” says Ava, “The dress sets the theme and era of the wedding.” Which is where I started. I didn’t know if I wanted to go 40s glam or 50s kitch, and the dress decided it for me.”AlexSandra’s Vintage Emporium, of course!” cries AlexSandra, and suggests shopping in person, not the internet, “If you don’t have any idea what you want, the internet is a place to get ideas, but not a dress, unless you’re really, and I mean really good at taking your measurements…Look for places that offer good customer service, places that allow you to take photos,” AlexSandra continued, “Also your mom’s or grandma’s closet is also a good place to start. Even if the dress doesn’t fit or isn’t exactly what you want, we can refashion it and make it something special.”As for concerns, have no fear, “A lot of brides fear sizing, they think vintage means a 24-inch waist,” says AlexSandra, “Body image is a big issue, but you just need to manage your expectations and find the look you feel good in. Don’t be afraid of your measurements!” Even if you find that perfect dress and it’s too small or too big, AlexSandra is the woman to go to to get that fixed. Self-taught, AlexSandra is a wiz at the sewing machine, “Leave your preconceived notions at home. You don’t know until you try it on!”
More dresses awaited upstairs, where The Vintage Bride, Rose Crossen offers true blue vintage gowns that are beautiful. The Vintage Bride just launched in January and it began out of a career shift for Rose, “My husband said I needed to collect something…I kept finding myself drawn to the vintage gowns at shops, and it seemed like the natural thing to do. My husband made a loft for me to work in” complete with pink walls. Rose’s dresses are gorgeous and in wonderful condition, plus, she’s a real doll to talk to, “I love the history a wedding dress has. I buy veils that still have rice stuck in them, or see dresses where she spilled something, and think ‘Oh, she must have had a fun reception!’ Each dress has it’s own little romantic tale to tell.” If you plan on buying from Rose, make sure you get your measurements correct, “Especially your ribcage. Your waist is squishy, but your ribcage is solid.”
Vintage Hair Styling
In addition to Ava’s lovely vintage and custom made hats and veils, and AlexSandra’s and Rose’s beautiful dresses and accessories, the show boasted Kristen Behlings and her hands that make hair miracles a reality. Kristen has been doing hair since she was asked to do the hair of the models at one of AlexSandra’s vintage fashion shows about three years ago.If you want anything from the 20s through the 60s, Kristen is your go-to girl. “I mostly get asked to do what I call the ‘Kristen Classic’ which is a simple set of victory rolls,” she says while showing me some sketches she has come up with and images of actresses boasting the WWII-era do. When asked where she gets her inspiration and ideas, she laughed and pointed to a stack of books on a table across from where she was performing sample hair styles, “Yearbooks actually.I’m addicted to them. And vintage magazines, and of course movies.” At the show, Kristen offered free sample hair-dos so brides-to-be could get a sense of what they may look like on their big day if they decide to go all out vintage. She did me up, what do ya think?
The show also offered a few photographers, make-up and DJ vendors. The event continues tomorrow, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Queen Anne Victorian Mansion, located at 1441 N. McClellan in Portland. The event is free, but a donation of canned food for the Oregon Food Bank is suggested. If you’re within a hundred miles of Portland and getting married soon, you need to go! You won’t be sorry!