Ready-to-wear wedding gowns are like Bigfoot: People claim they exist, but no one can produce any proof. And that’s why places like the Marilyn Johnson Sewing Design Studio are so crucial for brides-to-be. “Most gowns require alterations of some sort to fit properly,” says Marilyn Johnson (left), owner of her eponymous Laurel shop. “That would be something like adding or removing sleeves or changing the neckline shape.”
While Johnson offers an array of services — from vintage garment restoration to customized accessories — she knows many women struggle with far more than a well-fitted bodice. “The challenging part is overcoming body issues,” she says. “Everyone has some part they don’t like, while everyone else thinks they look wonderful.” As much as tending to their dresses, then, Johnson tends to the women’s self-esteem.
“The gratifying part is helping them realize they look perfectly beautiful in and out of their gown. I love the moment when the bride sees herself in the mirror for the first time wearing her finished gown and she lights up from inside. We love those tears, both hers and her entourage’s.”