A few days ago I discovered that a Facebook friend, Rani Totman, was the award-winning designer of my wedding dress. We’d connected a year ago through a book marketing program we had both joined. Recently, when I saw pictures of her standing next to rows of beautiful wedding gowns, I realized she’s the one who created the wedding dress which reflected my personal story, a story of a traditional woman with an ancient lineage who’d traveled the world and wrote books. Rani asked to see a picture of the dress and to share my story, so here I am, as my 12th wedding anniversary approaches, going down memory lane.
Years before I got married, I bought a wedding magazine as I was about to get engaged. There was only one dress that interested me, a ball gown with a tulle skirt. It wasn’t exactly what I was looking for – I wanted something more couture and extravagant – but it was a good starting point in search of my perfect dress. I tore out the page and gave away the magazine. Too in love with books, I was not the type of girl who kept beauty or fashion magazines. That engagement did not work out, but I kept the picture of the dress in one of my drawers.
Years passed and my now-husband came into my life and asked for my hand in marriage. In our Chaldean culture, we go through many festivities before the wedding, one of the major ones being the engagement which, in our case, consisted of 150 guests (that was considered moderate in comparison to larger engagements).
One day, my brother’s fiancée called me at work and said, “Weam, I ordered a beautiful wedding dress that is at Orosdi Beck Fashions. I want you to go try it. I know you’ll love it.”
She’d ordered it for a wedding that didn’t happen, and she did not want to wear it now when she was marrying my brother. But because she’d put a deposit, it sat there waiting for someone to pick it up. And she thought it too special not to be worn.
“Okay,” I said reluctantly. “But I haven’t even gone shopping for my engagement dress yet.”
“Just try it, please! It’s so you.”
I said I would but didn’t make it a priority. At the time, I was a full-time student at the Motion Institute of Michigan, worked full-time, and was getting ready for the publication of my first book, The Feminine Art. I had a big to-do list – still do (guess some things never change). She called several times afterward to see if I’d gone yet, and each time, I had to give an excuse of why I hadn’t. She persisted, and finally, to get her to stop pestering me, I took one of my sisters to Orosdi Beck Fashions, which was famous for its couture dresses.
I quickly tried on the dress and when I walked out of the dressing room, my sister’s eyes and that of the owner widened. The moment I stood in front of the three-way mirror, the phone rang. It was my now-husband. He asked, “What are you doing?”
“Nothing,” I said, taken aback by what I saw in the mirror. The dress resembled the picture I had saved, but this one was much more exquisite. It was lavish and luxurious, to meet my culture’s tastes of an elaborate traditional wedding, yet clean and timeless, to meet my preference for elegance.
I told my then fiancé I’d call him later and the owner of Orosdi Beck came to take measurements. “This fits you so perfect, it doesn’t even need any alterations,” she said.
It was the first and last wedding dress I tried on, a dress with a story I often tell women to help them realize their dreams. Having connected with the designer that made my dream a reality, I’m now also inspired by her story as a businesswoman.
Rani’s love of fine fashion started early, drawing on experience from her family’s business as the largest purveyors of fine lace in Thailand. Having earned a degree in English literature during her college years, and much to the dismay of her parents who did not want her to follow them into the fashion business, the story of St. Pucchi is an against all odds tale as success came to Rani without any formal fashion training. She pulled only from her experience growing up around fabrics, her lifelong enthusiasm for style and design, and remarkable natural talents that invoked her true calling as a designer at a young age. This led to her world-renowned Bridal house St. Pucchi. And recently, she published her book “Your Body, Your Style: Simple Tips on Dressing to Flatter Your Body Type.”
Sometimes, by making our dreams and fairytales come true, we illuminate the dreams of others.