recycle that dress

45 Linden Boulevard 4E
Brooklyn, New York 11226
347-743-8493 susan@theweddingdresser.com

Hours by Appointment
Wed: 1 - 9 PM
Thurs: 12 - 8 PM
Fri - Sat: 11 AM - 7 PM
Sun: 10 AM - 4 PM

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nicole warren

Weddings, Wedding VenuesThe Wedding Dresser, Best Wedding Dresses in New York City - 2014 Couples' Choice Award Winner

About Us

Off the main drag of Flatbush Avenue and its jerk chicken counters and Caribbean grocers stocking fresh coconuts and live crabs is a six-story apartment building at 45 Linden Boulevard. With crown molding and an intricate tiled floor, the lobby evokes prewar opulence, now a little worse for wear. There are 57 units in the building, but 4E is surely the busiest. The space doubles as Susan Ruddie’s home and her bridal atelier, the Wedding Dresser. “We used to have a living room,” Ms. Ruddie said. “Now all the furniture is in storage.”

Brides enter Ms. Ruddie’s studio through a door papered in thank-you notes, Christmas cards, even birth announcements, from women whose dresses she tweaked. There they will find Ms. Ruddie, 54, a former Broadway costume designer, squatting to fix a chiffon hem or digging through boxes of embellished trims for her accessories line. Stoles, shrugs and headpieces hang on the walls, flanking two tri-fold mirrors. Manoela Brittes, a seamstress, will be hunched over a worktable. Rolling racks hold dozens of dresses stuffed into garment bags, and next to them are boxes labeled “marabou” and “ostrich feathers.” On the windowsill, a trio of red geraniums adds a pop of color to a room full of bolts of fabric in every hue of cream and ivory.

The Wedding Dresser aims to fill a need that is increasingly common. Instead of buying from a salon with in-house alterations, many brides are purchasing gowns online, wearing vintage frocks or snatching off-the-rack options from J. Crew. Ms. Ruddie alters these dresses for an average of $550.

She enlists a team of specialists — beading experts, independent designers — to tackle specific parts of a gown. In a pinch, they can turn around alterations in a matter of days. “We had a bride from Bahrain who ordered a dress from Italy and had it shipped directly to us,” Ms. Ruddie said. “We got it on a Thursday and delivered it to her at the Plaza Hotel that Saturday.”

Though she sees as many as 45 brides a week during August and September — her busiest season — Ms. Ruddie seeks to foster lasting connections with her clients. Her business has grown through word of mouth. Jennifer Kaponyas, 31, swung by on a recent Sunday afternoon to pick up a surfer-girl dress for her Long Beach, N.Y., wedding. She learned about the Wedding Dresser when she accompanied a friend to an appointment. Ms. Kaponyas was so impressed that she traveled from Long Island when it was time for her own fittings.

Brides are understandably anxious about alterations — after all, gowns hold more significance than the average pair of pants. Lindsay Cohen, 29, will wear her mother’s lace wedding gown from 1974 to her ceremony in Pittsburgh. She was confident that Ms. Ruddie would respect the heirloom garment. “Susan has an appreciation for the past,” she said. Ms. Cohen wanted to ensure that the gown was in good hands, because it has become a good luck charm. “This dress has good karma,” she said. “My parents have been married almost 40 years.”

Thanks to her years in the theater, Ms. Ruddie is a font of diva-approved tips. She taught Casey O’Connor, 31, how to delicately kick the sequin-encrusted train of her slinky, silvery Jenny Packham gown out of the way to prevent a faceplant at her outdoor Italian wedding. As Ms. O’Connor twisted her blond hair into a topknot, Ms. Ruddie advised her to soak it in olive oil and wrap it before getting on the plane, to prevent frizziness. “Have a great time and send pictures!” Ms. Ruddie called as Ms. O’Connor strode out the door, a bride momentarily relieved of at least one worry.

By Jessica Leigh Hester, The New York Times, Sept. 26, 2014

The Wedding Dresser was founded by Susan Ruddie, a costume designer and textile artist, as a green wedding service offering to recycle wedding gowns after the wedding by hand dyeing and restyling — a service Susan began while working with Brides at Kleinfeld.

Our alterations service started on request by brides who could not find a Bridal specialist to alter their gowns. Susan realized that Brides buying dresses at sample sales, pre-owned sites, online retailers and from shops that did not offer alteration still needed all of the services offered by traditional Bridal Salons. She began making her clients veils and accessories. She expanded to offer jewelry, belts, sashes and wraps. Her services grew to include mens tailoring, stylist services, even shoe dyeing.

While growing these services Susan created a new model for a Bridal business - hiring experienced, talented artisans from theater and fashion who's fast, accurate work allows us to pay a good living wage while keeping prices competitive, and supports members of our staff persuing their own creative path.

Who We Are

De Silva GINA DeSILVA Dressmaker
Growing up in the workroom of her family's bridal salon, Gina DeSilva learned fabric, style and couture details from the inside out. After receiving a degree in Art from NYU, DeSilva went on to work for various designers including Vera Wang, then began creating custom evening and bridal gowns for private clients. In 2008, she launched her ready to wear collection which has gained attention from magazines such as Lucky and Zink. Gina DeSilva is the winner of the Supima Design Competition for 2010, receiving praise in WWD, Style.com, Fashion Week Daily and more. See Gina’s fashion line at GinaDeSilva.com
Larissa Rumiantseva NATALIE LOVELAND Costume Designer
Natalie is a Michigan native who moved to New York to pursue a career in Costume Design. From vintage dresses to the latest fashions, the wide variety of wedding gowns that come through The Wedding Dresser inspire her work in theatrical design. Natalie earned her MFA in Costume Design at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign. More of her design work may be found at nataliemarieloveland.com
Avellino Alfred AVELLINO ALFRED Tailor
Avellino trained as a tailor in Trinidad where he developed a program to teach tailoring skills to teenagers in a youth entrepreneur program. He freelances with several mens shops including Joe Mimran making custom suits, shirts and tuxes. He comes to us from the reknown British Bespoke Tailor Asprey where he did menas and ladies tailoring and bespoke suits. Avellino is developing a line of custom wedding suits and shirts for The Wedding Dresser.
Turner ANTHONY TURNER Mens and Ladies Tailor
Having worked as manager of both the Alterations and Tailoring Departments for Nordstrom in Short Hills, Anthony now freelances as a mens and ladies tailor for clients including Burberry where he tailored the soon to be Mr. Clinton Marc Mezvinsky and his groomsmen. See some of Anthony’s designs at etsy.com/shop/anthonyturner
Anne DePasquale ANNE DEPASQUALE Milliner
Anne DePasquale's innovative, retro-glam designs are reminiscent of the past, but interpreted for today. Anne began working for Betsey Johnson, Anna Sui, and Donna Karan. She now creates unique, limited edition hats and accessories. Acclaimed by the media, Anne DePasquale has been included in "The Best Of " issue of Accessories which noted the “Impeccable blocked hats of Anne De Pasquale as a highlight of The Market NYC”. Anne's designs have been featured in The New York Times, and WWD. Anne's designs have been seen on celebrities including Jennifer Lopez and Kate Hudson. With a desire to reconnect with artisan craft, Anne began working under renowned milliners Arnold S. Levine and Rodney Gordon, creating millinery for Broadway, Operas, Soap Operas and Disney productions. Three of which won Tony Awards for Best Costume Design: The Lion King, Thoroughly Modern Millie, and 42nd Street.
  MANOELA BRITTES Design assistant
Manoela grew up in Curitiba, Brazil where she she watched her mom make custom wedding gowns and never touched a dress. She did go on to study fashion design at Tuiuti University. She moved to New york in 2009 to work at Maria Lucia Couture making gorgeous handbags. Manoela is developing a line of evening purses for us. They will premier at fall 2012 Bridal fashion week. She also makes our beaded belts and headbands and is responsible for all of our beautiful beadwork and lace handwork
Laura Burns LAURA BURNS Hair and Makeup Artist
Laura is a professional Hair & Makeup Artist with a love of design and colour, a keen eye for detail and a passion for hair and makeup.
After formally studying makeup and hairstyling in her home town of Sydney, Australia in 2001, she has since enjoyed a successful and diverse career in television, fashion and red carpet and weddings.
Now living in New York City and specializing in bridal makeup and events, Laura works closely with her clients to determine exactly the look they want to achieve and which techniques will best enhance their natural beauty, suit their personal style and look great on the day as well as on camera.
ERICA GREENWOLD Schuyler Grant Assistant Designer
Schuyler was born in Manhattan and grew up in Park Slope watching old movies, which gave him a passion for glamorous clothes. He went on to study Fashion Design at the Fashion Institute of Technology, majoring in Special Occasion and Bridal Design. He was the recipient of the Marie Rose Camporeale Award for Excellence in Bridal Design and was the runner up for the Critic's Award during his final year at the Fashion Institute, where his designs were featured in the BFA fashion show. While at FIT Schuyler interned for Bill Blass.
gloves SUSAN RUDDIE Owner/Designer
Susan Ruddie has worked for 25 years as a costume designer, costume director, milliner and textile artist. Susan's designs have toured the world with The Mark Morris Dance Group. She has designed off broadway plays, musicals, ballets and operas. Recent work includes the 25th anniversary national tour of Evita directed by Hal Prince, national tours of Fiddler in the Roof. and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat starring Patrick Cassidy; and a production of The Sound of Music which was the first Broadway musical to tour mainland China. Some of her favorites to dress have include Faith Prince, Martin Short, John Pizzarelli, Meryl Streep, Baryshnikov and Mark Morris. She ran the workroom for Grace Costumes and Eric Winterling Costumes where she supervised the construction of costumes for shows including "Little Mermaid", "Wicked", and "Phantom". Susan has dyed and painted costumes for Broadway, operas, ballets, Ringling Bros. Circus, and vegas shows. Susan's talent for working with feathers comes from years of making headdresses for the Radio City Rockettes.

Susan has worked in Bridal for over 10 years designing custom dresses and accessories, as a buyer, in sales, and in the fitting department at the infamous Kleinfeld. Susan launched her first accessories line under the label Susee Human. Her hats and hair accessories were featured in Elle, on the cover of WWD, and on the runway for Patricia Underwood, Marc Jacobs, Williwear and Isaac Mizrahi. Pieces from her new collection Accessories by The Wedding Dresser have been featured in The Knot, Brides Magazine, and on numerous blogs including "Style Me Pretty".
  ERIK SPRING Owner/office manager/muse
Erik and Susan have worked as a team for 28 years. Erik runs the office for The Wedding Dresser and does most of our purchasing, having worked as a shopper and office manager for several Broadway costume companies including Arnold Levine Inc. and Troika Entertainment. He also does fabric painting, dyes our shoes, and is developing a line of grooms gifts collaged with vintage pin ups. Watch for The Wedding Dresser's Mens Corner at etsy.com/shop/theweddingdresser
  Website by Bryan Canniff Design
A highly accomplished media consultant with a wide range clients including The Museum of Modern Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Hearst Magazines, Discover Magazine, and Ziff Davis Publishing. His designs have been honored by The New York Art DIrectors Club, The American Institute of Graphic Arts and featured in many publications including Graphis and Folio magazines.