-- This bride certainly had the wedding dress of her dreams.
Tania Jennings, of Chesham, England, spent 1,000 hours painstakingly crocheting her own gown for her June 6 wedding, which took place at the historic St. Pancras Church in London.
“My fourth great-grandparents were married at St. Pancras in 1839 and my husband Andrew's 3rd great-grandfather was also born in the parish, so we were able to be married there due to our ‘extraordinary family connection,’” Jennings, 39, told ABC News of the special ceremony.
Inspired by another woman’s crocheted wedding dress she saw online, Jennings decided to tackle the project herself.
“I have been crocheting since I was three years old, but I had never attempted lace before, so there first few months were a bit of a learning curve,” she explained. “I didn't really have a design in mind, I just began looking at heritage sites of traditional Irish crochet books and made pieces that I liked.”
The varying pieces on her gown took her anywhere from 20 minutes all the way up to 80 hours to make depending on their size and complexity.
“The smallest pieces, which are the size of a penny, took 20 to 30 minutes,” said Jennings. “The large ‘Polish stars’ that made up the train took roughly 80 hours a piece, and there were five of them! Most took somewhere closer to 2 to 3 hours to make. There are about 150 individual pieces in the dress, plus the webbing tying them together, which took about three weeks to complete.”
The entire gown took roughly seven months to complete, cutting it extremely close as she was still working on the final touches mere minutes before the wedding.
“I made the first pieces the first week of November 2014 and put the final stitches into the lace webbing less than two hours before the wedding, with the final stitches tacking everything to the dress minutes before jumping into the cab to head to the church,” Jennings recalled.
She was even worrying her photographer with the last-minute touches.
“The photographer asked me, ‘Tania, do you think you might actually finish the dress today?,’” she said. “I just laughed and said, ‘Yes, I will finish at three o'clock.’ They asked how I knew and I just said, ‘Look, that's when I have to get my hair and makeup done so I can go marry my best friend.’ So when three o'clock came, I put the final piece in place, and said, ‘Alright, let's do this.’ I'm not sure anyone else thought I would ever be done!”
The payoff was worth it though, surprising her groom, Andy, as she walked down the aisle in her one-of-a-kind dress.
“Andy saw all of the pieces being made so he had a general idea,” she explained, “but I imagine it is like looking at a box of LEGOs. You might have ideas about what they could be, but until you see it together, it's impossible to really know what you will be presented with.”
Some of the designs in her gown had very special meanings for specific people in Jennings’ life, which turned out to be a highlight for guests on the big day.
“An elephant for my younger daughter Bridgette, a tulip for my daughter Gabby, my husband wanted a martini glass on the dress, a friend of my daughter’s requested a giraffe, another a turtle, and so on,” she said. “It became a bit of a game at the reception for everyone to find ‘their’ piece.”
The best part about making the dress, “were the dozens and dozens of times I would be on the bus or train into London and people would come sit near me just to strike up a conversation about crocheting or to take pictures,” said Jennings.
The worst part however, “was just the doubt along the way and wondering if I had made a terrible mistake!,” she added. “There were a lot of tears along the way as I tried to learn new techniques, ripped out pieces that just weren't working right, and tried to envision what it was going to look like. It wasn't until a week or two before the wedding that it finally clicked and I ‘got it.’”
Jennings doesn’t think she’ll ever be able to top her ornate design in the future, but she and Andy are hoping to have a one-year anniversary reception in the United States next year where she’d love to have it make a second appearance.
“My husband insists that I must wear it again!,” she said. “It was really just a magical day.”