Writer & Photographer – Leah Carey, Wednesday, January 25, 2012, The Caledonian-Record, Bridal Guide
When little girls dream of their wedding day, most probably envision big puffy clouds of white charmeuse and chiffon. But other girls want something a little more natural – perhaps something that reminds them of blissful days out playing in the woods.
“Where else do you get to try on a wedding dress and listen to the Smashing Pumpkins at the same time?”
That’s where Tara Lynn Bridal comes in. Tara Lynn Scheidet hand-makes all of her wedding gowns, veils and trains from natural fibers such as organic cotton and hemp and incorporates colorful artwork and objects such as feathers and seashells in her designs.
“It’s a lot different than getting something from a shop,” said Scheidet in early January. “I had a customer from Canada who ordered a dress of the four seasons. There was a bird and an animal for each season. The woolly bear caterpillar was 3-D and fuzzy and looked like a real caterpillar. You’re not going to get that from any of my competitors. You can’t mass produce what I’m making and nobody would want to.”
Scheidet works with every bride to make the perfect dress for their personality. “They’re an expression of your personality and they’re about who you are,” said Scheidet . “My main mission is to make these beautiful, natural, sustainable, personal wedding gowns. You really can’t just walk into any store and get a dress like that.
The process begins with a conversation about what you’re looking for. Scheidet has 14 styles on her website to choose from, plus the option to create a completely customized dress. But even if you choose one of the 14 named styles, you still have a lot of freedom to create the dress you want. “You could choose a dress and order it in a size 8 and I’ll cut and sew it in a size 8,” she said. “Then you can choose what you want around the empire waist or the color of the beads and flowers you want. There are all sorts of
details you can change to make it yours – the color of the lace up in the back or the color of the underlining.” You can add flowers and embroidery to a dress that doesn’t have it, or remove them from one that does.
For example, one of Scheidet’s current projects is for Jennifer Yerxa, a bride from Denmark, Maine, who will be getting married on Labor Day of 2013. Yerxa will have a barefoot wedding ceremony. Her reception will be a pig roast and music festival and she wants a “rock and roll” party dress. “Jennifer ordered Farfalle, a dress that I usually have, but she wanted it to be all natural with no artwork, so I’m not doing any artwork on it. The price dropped by half by leaving that off. But then she wants the straps to be a vintage daisy trim and a daisy belt. For the reception I’m making her a black crinoline underskirt that she’ll pull on to hang like a tutu under the dress to make it a party dress.”
Scheidet has a wide variety of trims and fabrics that she’s been collecting since she was just 12 years old. Clients are welcome to sort through her boxes (which are organized by color and type) to find the perfect addition for their dress. “You have this freedom to play with all these eclectic fabrics and trims that I have and build a dress that’s personal to you and is a reflection of who you are.”
Another bride brought her a collection of feathers from birds that her fiancé had gathered while hunting. She used some of the feathers in a hemp and twine train for the gown. She also incorporated feathers into the men’s boutonnieres and pieces for the bridesmaids. “I’m opening myself up to do more accessories now, too.”
Although some larger companies make wedding gowns in natural fibers, Scheidet is unique in the artwork, handcrafting and personal service that she puts into every dress. “Everything I make is to order. I cut and sew it for you.”
And she’s making quite a name for herself. When American Idol runner-up Crystal Bowersox wanted a unique natural dress for her wedding in October 2010, she found Scheidet online. The dress and its creator ended up in People Magazine. One of her creations was also worn at the Miss America pageant in 2009 by then-Miss Vermont, Ashley Wheeler.
A custom order with Scheidet requires about six to eight months. She said that people often travel as much as eight to 10 hours to see her for fittings. For people from across the country, she will ship the dress for a fitting and ask them to take pictures and return it to her.
Yerxa found Scheidet through a simple Google search. “I wondered if anyone makes a hemp dress or anything else sustainable. I Googled ‘hemp wedding dress’ and Tara Lynn was on top.” When she came in from Maine for a fitting in mid-January, Yerxa was thrilled with both the dress and Scheidet’s way of working, which includes creating the right atmosphere for the dress she’s working on. Midway through the fitting, Scheidet suggested doing black leather fingerless gloves. Yerxa exclaimed that she’d been thinking the same thing. “I’m so glad I found you!” she said to Scheidet. “Where else do you get to try on a wedding dress and listen to the Smashing Pumpkins at the same time?”