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!


  1. To say I'm stunned would be an understatement. I can't believe this is happening!

    Thank you, thank you, thank you so very much!

  2. You picked the perfect winner. Jeannine totally deserves this. :)