Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The UPON A STAR win a couture wedding gown contest HAS A WINNER!

A Wish Upon A Star Comes True!

It was not long ago that Jorge Manuel came up with the idea over coffee at the breakfast table. The 'UPON A STAR' contest would give one lucky bride the opportunity to win a one-of-a-kind couture wedding gown. The name of the contest fits in theme with the designer's current collection, the NEBULA collection 2011 which is inspired on the stars.

After weeks of deliberation, consideration and observation, a team of 5 judges narrowed down the entries from 252 hopefuls to 5 semi-finalists to finally the winner!
The contest had many exciting moments! Brides-to-be interested in participating in the 'UPON A STAR' contest submitted essays to contest@jorgemanuelweddings.com. These hopefuls had a 30 day period to turn in their entries and essays. A sketch was first released on the designer's facebook page as a teaser before the beginning of the competition. It was not long after the sketch was released to the public that the contest officially kicked off at Maddison Row. (http://jorgemanuelweddings.blogspot.com/2011/02/commencement-of-upon-star-win-wedding.html) The unveiling party of the "Star" gown gathered wedding planners, wedding bloggers and hopeful brides for this special event along with the designer, Jorge Manuel at Maddison Row.(http://jorgemanuelweddings.blogspot.com/2011/02/star-gown-wows-in-south-carolina-any.html) Entries began to come in from all over the U.S. and it would not be long before the contest entry deadline reached a closed. The team at Jorge Manuel and Maddison Row began to choose their favorites soon after. These favorites were contacted via E-mail with a questionnaire that later determined their place within the competition. The questionnaires were then completed and returned to the Jorge Manuel Studio either by mail or E-mail. Five (5) lucky semi-finalists were selected on March 15, 2011. Choosing a favorite was no easy task and its safe to say that the judges were not always seeing eye to eye. In fact, at times the judges were torn between two or three favorites.

Ultimately, throughout the process a winner stood out from the rest. And it is with pleasure that this year's UPON A STAR contest winner is announced as JEANINE LALONDE!

Jeanine's entry essay and questionnaire:

(Received via E-mail - contest@jorgemanueweddings.com 04:20:30 -0800 [03/10/2011 07:20:30 AM EDT])

"As children, we learn about the transformative power of love. Frogs, beasts, eternally sleeping
princesses…with love they all found “happily ever after.” We leave those stories behind when
we grow up, but maybe we shouldn’t. Maybe we all have a brush with the fairy tales when we
find love.
Moving to Virginia was a complete deviation from the structured, ambitious plan for my life and
career that I drew up when I was younger. For six months after my move, I wondered if I had
made a mistake and whether it was time to head home. I missed my family, my friends, and the
pace of life in the city. Virginia was beautiful, but it didn’t feel like the right place for me. There
were times when Charlottesville felt like a club into which I hadn’t yet gained entry. Everyone
was so happy here, so maybe the problem was with me. Maybe I had to change who I was to
find happiness. Thankfully, when I was contemplating all of this, I met Marc.
When we met, it was as if someone flipped a switch and illuminated my life in Charlottesville. I
didn’t just stop questioning myself and my new home, I accepted and embraced who I was and
what I was experiencing. We fell in love exploring this small, diverse city with its amazing
history, great architecture (home of Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello and the University of
Virginia), and eclectic mix of academics, artists, and musicians. As I fell in love with Marc, I fell
in love with Charlottesville. When he asked me to marry him, there was no question about where
we would get married. Charlottesville was now home.
It seems fitting that our wedding theme will blend elements of a traditional vineyard wedding
with a little innovation. We love our region’s vineyards, which date back to Jefferson’s days, but
want our wedding to be a little different from the dozens of vineyard weddings that happen here
each year. Our venue, Pippin Hill Farm and Vineyard, is still under construction. Most brides
would have run in the other direction if all they saw upon visiting their ceremony and reception
site was architectural plans, a few artistic renderings, and some wood framing, but I loved the
idea of being part of something new and different.
I was similarly smitten when I saw Jorge Manuel’s Upon a Star Dress. While the silhouette is
classic, the details are architectural and unlike anything I have seen before. The dress seems like
the perfect complement to our wedding. It fulfills what I have looked for: a dress that blends a
traditional shape with creative, innovative details. It’s a dream dress for a day I’ve been waiting
so long for. 

Jeanine Lalonde Questionnaire:

1. Full Name:  Jeannine Lalonde

2. Occupation: College Admission Counselor

3. Hometown: I'm originally from Ridgewood, NJ (a suburb of New York City).  I went to school in Providence and Boston before settling in Charlottesville, Virginia

4. Wedding date: June 1, 2012

5. How did you and your fiance meet?
In a nutshell, we met at a concert.  Here's the full story...
I didn't know anyone in Charlottesville when I moved here for my job, but I had one rather new acquaintance who promised me that I'd meet people if I went to the opening concert for our new outdoor music venue with his friends.  He was right...I met about 200 people at that concert, but it was almost impossible to remember any of them.  Marc, my fiance, was one of the people I met. During that period, I was so lonely here.  People were very nice and friendly, but it was hard to move from being friendly to being friends with people (this is something that I've heard from many people who move to this town).  Marc finally asked me out, but I was on a week long work trip at the time.  I told him that if he emailed me the time and location for our date, I'd see it when I got him from my trip that Friday (I know this sounds odd, but this was before everyone had a smart phone and I was in hotels where there were internet charges and I was trying to save my school a little money).  When I got home that Friday, there was no email.  I was so sad.  I think I cried a little bit, unpacked, and went to bed. On Monday morning, we realized that the email had gone astray!  Marc had been sitting in front of a restaurant for two hours with a box of chocolates, waiting for me.  We finally went on our date a few days later.

6. How did your fiance or you propose? Any special way?
Under the guise of taking pictures of my dog for a Christmas card, Marc took me to the beach on the day after Thanksgiving.  We had a rainy drive, but the sun started peeking through the clouds while we ate lunch at a little beach front restaurant.  When we saw some dolphins swimming by in the water and fed the restaurant's fish, I thought it was the perfect day.  I had no idea that the day was about to get much better!  After lunch, we took a little walk on the deserted beach and took pictures of my dog.  Marc distracted me with something and when I turned around, he was on his knee. 

7. Tell us a bit about your wedding. (amount of guests, theme, colors, decor etc...)
This is a fun one!  We wanted a vineyard wedding because that industry is a huge part of our region (Thomas Jefferson planted the first vineyard here in the mid 1800s).  Unfortunately, the vineyards are extremely expensive venues to use.  One after another, they came off our list when the costs were disclosed.  We were able to find a vineyard that was under construction and therefore a bit less expensive to use.  We also decided to get married on a Friday, which would provide some savings and also allow my family (coming from NYC and Boston) to have a day to relax and enjoy the area before traveling back home on Sunday and it would give me some extra time with some of the family members I don't get to see very often. We would love to host a huge party, but have opted for a slightly more intimiate gathering.  We'll probably have about 100 people on the guest list.
      The color scheme and decor has changed a little bit in recent weeks.  I blog about interior design, do-it-yourself projects, and entertaining, so I've been collecting inspirational pictures of weddings and events for years, but not with the intention of using them for my own wedding.  When we got engaged, I immediately pored over those images and decided that I wanted to use teal or peacock blue for our main color.  I started assembling a digital mood board to fit the scheme.  Over time, though, I started seeing more and more teal and blue weddings.  The more that trend emerged, the less enamored I became with it.  I realized that while I love reading and writing about new trends, I wanted the wedding palette to be classic and inspired by nature. We found a local florist who grows her own flowers on a farm just outside our city (we're trying to use as many small businesses as possible) and I see our space being full of white flowers with greenery sitting in antique bowls (I've been picking up old trophies at thrift stores to use) and beige, linen tablecloths.  We'll add white candles to the tables, too.  

8. How long have you been engaged?
We got engaged the day after Thanksgiving, so it's been just over 3 months.
9. Have you been dress shopping? If so what style did you like best? I've been dress shopping once so far and was really surprised by what I liked!  I thought I wanted a lace dress with a trumpet or mermaid skirt, but found myself attracted to satin dresses that had a little more structure.  While the trumpet and mermaid silhouettes were nice, my favorite dresses wound up having A-line silhouettes. I had been against strapless dresses, but found they were the most comfortable of the dressed I tried on.  I didn't realize that with the proper fit, the weight of the dress is on your core, as opposed to on your shoulders.

10. How did you hear about the contest?
I saw Jorge Manuel on the list of designers carried by a very nice salon in Washington, DC.  I was going through the company website and found the contest page.  I then looked at the Madison Row blog and fell in love with the dress.

11. What would it mean to you to win this gorgeous dress?
I don't think I'll be able to wear a new dress without this contest.  Wearing a used dress isn't a horrible thing, especially if it reduces some of our stress about our budget (my parents are retired and while they want to help, Marc and I are paying for most of the wedding ourselves).  Obviously, though, the average bride doesn't really dream about wearing a second hand gown.  I'd love to have one of my own.  I know I could go to a chain store and get an inexpensive gown, but we are trying to use vendors and businesses that are owned by individuals, not big corporations.
    After staring at pictures of the Upon a Star dress for a few weeks now, I know that I would feel special and beautiful if I were able to wear it.  I've looked at plenty of dresses online and have been able to objectively say that they are lovely dresses, but the Upon a Star dress actually evokes an emotional response. It makes me excited.  It makes me smile.  I even find myself daydreaming a little bit about what it'll be like to walk down the aisle towards Marc wearing it.

Jorge Manuel and Maddison Row want to thank all the brides who submitted their entries for the UPON A STAR contest. A special thanks goes out to Jeanine for sharing her personal life, sentimental memories and emotional details about what's in her heart with all of us. We are truly moved by her sincerity and passion. Sometimes anytime is possible when you wish 'UPON A STAR.' May you shine on your wedding day and may your dress shine with you! We congratulate you and look forward to seeing you walk down the aisle in your gorgeous JORGE MANUEL "Star" gown!

Monday, March 28, 2011

The STAR Gown Will Soon Have A Winner!

What Bride from our five (5) Semi-Finalists will be the very lucky one to walk down the aisle in the one-of-a-kind wedding gown by designer Jorge Manuel?

The Upon A Star win a wedding couture gown contest approaches the end and as we turn the corner on this year's contest, one very lucky winner will walk down the aisle in a very special gown!

The team at Jorge Manuel and Maddison Row are quite the busy bees tabulating, sometimes disagreeing over the possible winner,but mostly grateful they will be able to making one very lucky bride extremely happy on March 30, 2010 when the winner is announced on the designer's JORGE MANUEL website (jorgemanuelweddings.com).

How exciting! We wish all of our five semi-finalists the best of luck!

If you haven't done so, meet the five lucky semi-finalists running for the gorgeous couture 'STAR' gown.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Jorge Manuel's Upon A Star Contest Has Been Narrowed Down To 5 Semi-Finalists

It has been  35 days since the 'Upon A Star' win a couture wedding gown contest began to accept entries from lucky brides around the U.S. So many wonderful brides submitted their essays and entries and here at Jorge Manuel we were glued to our e-mail boxes reading the heartfelt stories we received and blessed to have met such wonderful brides-to-be.

It has been a very difficult decision and after much deliberation, and we don't say this lightly, the 5 semi-finalists in the running for the 'Star' gown have been selected!

Their stories have captivated the contest's panel of judges and their desire to walk down the aisle in a one-of-a-kind wedding gown locked in their proper place among the 5 semi-finalists.

Jorge Manuel would like to personally congratulate the following candidates in the running to win the gorgeous one-of-kind couture 'Star' gown:

1. Amanda Dalton; Louisville, KY
2. Andrea Gallucci: Magnolia, OH
3. Jeanine Lalonde; Charlottesville, VA
4. Rhian Stotts: Tempe, AZ
5. Samantha June Pittman: North Providence, RI

They are all one step closer to the prize! The winner will be announced on the designer's website on March 30, 2011. We wish you all the very best of luck! Till then, allow us to proudly introduce them.

Amanda Dalton
Hometown: Louisville, KY
Wedding Date: May 15, 2011
Occupation: Research Technician
What love means to her: Love is everything to me. I love my fiancé with all of my heart. He brought me out of such a dark place and has shown me that there is some good left in the world. He is the reason I still believe in love.
What she looks for in a wedding gown: A wedding dress is more then just a dress, it is the centerpiece of the wedding and it should be amazing and unique to the bride. The right wedding dress should make the bride feel like the most beautiful woman in the world and it should give her a confidence unlike anything else. Any girl would be incredibly lucky to have this gorgeous gown. My theme to my wedding is Whimsical Woodlawn. Every detail to this elegant dress goes, from the hand made flowers covering it to the creative circles on the veil.

Andrea Gallucci
Fiance: John Abbot (applicant)
Hometown: Magnolia, OH
What love means to him:  To me, "love" means more than just the desire to make my future wife happy, but to show her as much as I can, in every way, how much she means to me.
How they met: We met at a music festival held in our hometown in the summer of 2006. I was with my brother, she was with a friend, we started talking and continued a friendship until 3 years ago when I told her that I loved her... We have been together ever since.

Jeanine Lalonde
Wedding date: June 1, 2012
Hometown: Charlottesville, VA
Occupation: College Admission Counselor
A bit about her wedding: This is a fun one!... We were able to find a vineyard that was under construction and therefore a bit less expensive to use.  What it would mean to her if she won the 'Star' gown:  After staring at pictures of the Upon a Star dress for a few weeks now, I know that I would feel special and beautiful if I were able to wear it.  I've looked at plenty of dresses online and have been able to objectively say that they are lovely dresses, but the Upon a Star dress actually evokes an emotional response. It makes me excited.  It makes me smile.  I even find myself daydreaming a little bit about what it'll be like to walk down the aisle towards Marc wearing it.

Rhian Stotts
Hometown: Tempe, AZ
Wedding Date: July 14, 2012
Occupation: Research Assistant
How he proposed: On his first day back to work after New Year's, James called me to tell me that he wanted to go out to get steak for dinner.  As we are extremely budget conscious this was unusual but I initially agreed.  However, I had been working from home that day and hadn't showered yet.  So, I called him back and told him that I didn't want to go.  He begged and I gave in and went to get ready before he got home.  I decided that I might as well look cute so I dressed up a bit (good thing).  James got home and suggested that we take our dog, Mortimer, for a walk before leaving for dinner.  Our walk includes a stop at the neighborhood park.  We stopped there to let Mortimer play around and I sat down on the playground equipment.  We were talking when James opened his jacket and pulled out a ring box saying "This probably won't come as much of a surprise" (wrong) and then got on one knee and asked me to marry him.  I accidentally tackled him while squealing and he had to remind me to actually say yes!

Samantha Pittman
Hometown: North Providence, RI
Wedding Date: October 15, 2011
Occupation: Non-Profit Communications and Marketing Associate
The story behind the ring: The best part about our story is the ring itself. A few years into dating we started talking about marriage. When we were in San Diego visiting my family one year I said to him some side comment that I'd be pretty pumped if my ring came out of California! He did better. He built the ring himself. He bought the center stone in San Diego with help from my mom, and the setting in Rhode Island, with help from his mom. My ring is both pieces of us- half from San Diego, half from Rhode Island.
Looking for the perfect dress: I never pictured my wedding as a little girl. I always thought it would be simple. Now that I've seen the dresses and put them on I've realized this is the only day that I can put on a dress so magical and the day that I am supposed to feel the most beautiful that everything I like is in the $5,000 range which working in non-profit is a pretty decent piece of your yearly salary!

Which one of these lucky brides will walk down the aisle in a one-of-a-kind couture wedding gown? We will soon find out! Check back periodically on this blog for more on the contestants and on March 30, 2011 visit the designer's website (www.jorgemanuelweddings.com) to see the contest winner!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Contest Entries for the 'Upon A Star' Win A Wedding Couture Wedding Dress Contest Closes Tonight at 12 a.m.!

If you are a bride-to-be or know of a bride-to-be that would LOVE walking down the aisle in a one-of-a-kind wedding couture dress then let them know to E-mail their photograph and essay defining their idea of love and why the "Star" gown will make their wedding all that sweeter! Entries MUST BE SUBMITTED to Contest@jorgemanuelweddings.com by 12a.m. tonight!

The Upon a Star contest will soon have a winner! 5 Semi-Finalist will be chosen over the next days and posted on the designer page (jorgemanuelweddings.com) and on our Facebook page (facebook.com/jorgemanuelwed) on March 15, 2011. You will be able to meet the lucky 5 entries along with their photographs and entries and vote for your favorite! The 5 lucky semi-finalist will be one step closer to the prize!

We are so excited to have received so many wonderful essays, heartfelt stories, and gotten to meet such wonderful brides-to-be.  Now the hard task of choosing just five contestants is definitely going to have the Jorge Manuel team incredibly busy!

DRESS FACTS (the gown up for grabs): Strapless ball gown Taffeta floral detail fabric with Silk Satin hand-made encrusted bias flowers with hand-embroidered seed bead crystals and crystal center at bodice with Silk-Satin bias sash at waist. MSRP: $5720

We caught up with designer, Jorge Manuel and could not resist to ask what most brides are questioning about the 'Upon A Star' Contest:

Why are you giving away a dress?
I wanted to do something special for all those brides who love couture gowns but simply cannot afford wearing a couture dress. I remember going with my sister to buy her wedding dress. She really longed for a couture wedding dress that was out of her budget. I was fifteen at the time and till this day I remember the look on her face when she knew it was a gown she just simply could not marry in, even if it was the one gown that truly spoke to her. It would make me very happy to know that my gown has made a bride who never thought of wearing a designer gown extremely happy.

Who is judging this contest?
There is a five-person panel composed of three of the judges from Jorge Manuel's creative team and two from our other sponsor, the bridal boutique Maddison Row.

How difficult is it to choose the semi-finalists?
Actually is very difficult because the entries have all been so heartfelt I wish I could give a free dress to all of
them! Unfortunately, the one-of-a-kind gown can only have one winner.

How will the winner be chosen?
The five semi-finalist will be posted on my site and on our Facebook page. The public will be able to get to meet them and their essays and stories. Half of the votes will account from the public and the other half from the judging panel. Scores in points will be assigned to each semi-finalists and then tabulated. The most points given to the contestant wins the gown!

You have decided to make the 'Upon A Star' an annual contest?
I am overwhelmed with the turn out of entries we received. I have learned that there are many brides out there who dream of getting married in a beautiful couture wedding gown, who truly appreciate the gown, the workmanship and artful beauty in it, but simply cannot afford it! I think this is my way of giving back to the industry that is making my dreams of being a wedding gown designer a reality. So I have decided to make this contest an annual one where I will pair up with one of my retailers and together sponsor a couture one-of-a-kind wedding dress to one very lucky bride. 

When will we know the winner of this year's 'Upon A Star' contest?
March 30, 2011 is the big day! It will be an honor for me to give one very lucky bride the gown of her dreams! You know the phrase, "when you wish UPON A STAR?" well, I am just glad I am able to make someone's dream come true.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

The 'Upon A Star' Contest Will Soon Have A Winner!

How exciting that the dress 'The Star' will soon be in the hands of one lucky bride who will be able to walk down the aisle in a beautiful one-of-a-kind Jorge Manuel wedding dress.

If you are a bride-to-be and have not done so already make sure to submit your entries to contest@jorgemanuelweddings.com before March 10,2011.
Any bride in the U.S. can participate and submitting your entries is easy. Submit a photograph of you and/or you and your groom and a 300-600 word essay defining your definition of love and why this gown will make your wedding that much sweeter.

For more information visit the designer's website at www.jorgemanuelweddings.com

DRESS FACTS (the gown up for grabs):
Strapless ball gown Taffeta floral detail fabric with Silk Satin hand-made encrusted bias flowers with hand-embroidered seed bead crystals and crystal center at bodice with Silk-Satin bias sash at waist. MSRP: $5720

Friday, March 4, 2011

Featured Bride: Daniela Rebull and The Cielo

Daniela's story is not quite the conventional wedding dress buying story. How does it normally go with buying a wedding dress? In Daniela's case it was as simple as going to a store with her family and deciding on a dress. The whole experience was done in the one and only location she had visited while wedding dress shopping.

Daniela came to Jorge Manuel for something completely different other than for her wedding dress. Jorge Manuel met her mom, Teresa Rebull, months before the wedding to discuss the 13 flower girl dresses he'd be making for her daughter's wedding. This is around the time that he was producing his 5th collection, The IRIS collection 2012, yet to be revealed in April 2011. Nevertheless, Daniela had already purchased a gown she loved and looking for another wedding dress was far beyond her or anyone.

 The wedding was to be held at Vizcaya Museum and Gardens in Miami, Florida. Daniela had chosen a modern garden theme for her wedding decor...lots of flowers! Her flower girl's dresses, as well as, her bridesmaids dresses carried the theme throughout the design of the dresses. Her wedding planning was in full bloom and everything seemed to, as if by magic, start falling into place.

As the wedding drew nearer and nearer, Jorge Manuel, began to take on more responsibilities with this family's wedding attire. Teresa picked a gown from Jorge Manuel's Etelvina collection 2008, the Erika, for her mother-of-the-bride gown, then a gown from the IRIS collection 2012  the maids-of-honor, Daniela's sisters.  Somewhere along all the fittings Teresa kept eyeing a wedding gown that she knew would be the one for her daughter. The sample gown had barely made it out of the sewing machine when Teresa instantly knew that this dress represented her daughter, Daniela. But how could this be? When Daniela had already chosen her wedding gown!

If fate would have it, two months prior to the wedding, the Rebull family attended a close friend's wedding. The Bride had chosen the exact dress Daniela planned on wearing two months later at her own wedding. Some of the guests ovelapped hers. The decision after that was a simple one. Daniela would walk down the aisle in a gorgeous Jorge Manuel wedding gown! The dress she chose which had no assigned name at that moment, became the center of much emotions.

The gown Daniela had originally purchased was a ball gown silhouette. However, the CIELO gown was a mermaid fit! It perhaps never dawned on Daniela that a mermaid style gown would shine brighter on her than a ball gown. The unexpected dress had turned out to be THE DRESS of her dreams!

The gown she selected is a mermaid faille and tulle gown with over 275 hand-made, hand-encrusted geometrical flowers and hand-embroidered crystal dress. The lead time for a gown with this caliber is about 14-16 weeks minimum! Because the change of her wedding dress was five weeks before she walked the aisle, Jorge Manuel, turned his studio into a production frenzy and 13 flower girl dresses, two bridesmaids dresses, one mother-of-the-bride dress, and 1 very gorgeous wedding gown was produced in time to make the wedding deadline.

"It was a great challenge, but they were such wonderful people. I was just so happy to see that the bride had found her dress in the most unexpected of ways. There's a certain look that you see on a bride-to-be's face when she has found THE DRESS. I saw that face on Daniela when she put on the CIELO gown sample. The emotions she felt along with her family was overflowing with hugs and tears. And I couldn't have been prouder to see that one of my gown had made a family so happy! I am honored and so proud on how gorgeous they all looked!"

The Rebull family could not have been prouder to celebrate with the gorgeous Daniela and her groom her much awaited, and quite interesting dress journey, wedding. Allow me to introduced Daniela, the groom and the GORGEOUS Cielo gown to be released April 2011 at bridal market.

Photos: Ray Santana photography