Special to the First Coast Register
Why settle for good enough when you can incorporate all your favorite elements of design into a dream dress that perfectly reflects your style and individuality?
Jacksonville resident Jalona Marie Falkner of Jalona Marie Bridal has helped over 100 brides do just that and make their wedding dress dreams a reality.
“I’m a creative, innovative problem solver,” Falkner says. “My whole goal is to get to the root of the problem and create solutions that are easy, flexible and accessible. Jalona Marie Bridal is the perfect example of that because the business is all about giving brides access to affordable, custom bridal gowns that are made in a couple of months and we do this remotely —we use technology, Facetime and all kinds of tools.”
Falkner started sewing in her late 20s, and the moment she started making garments for herself, she felt like a “prodigy” because the process of creating garments, grading, creating patterns and learning the terms and technologies came quickly to her. It didn’t take long for that to become apparent to others too.
“Eventually, everyone started to notice my outfits … and they started asking if I could make things for them too,” Falkner says.
Doll Face Custom Made Clothing for Women was born in Memphis, Tennessee, and customers soon began inquiring if she would consider making their wedding gowns. During her third bridal project, the client desired a particularly complicated dress, featuring various design details and encrusted jewelry that Falkner had never used before. So, she made several sample dresses for the client and refined her process for that project.
“When she tried that dress on, it was a perfect fit,” Falkner says. “Those beads fell and hit her in places that made her look angelic and she cried. I cried. In that moment, I really felt like, ‘I’ve got something here. This is where I’m supposed to be.’”
Falkner’s husband accepted a job transfer to Jacksonville, and she decided to devote herself exclusively to wedding wear. The mother of two now runs Jalona Marie Bridal from Jacksonville’s Southside, and she absolutely loves what she does.
“I’m a wedding dress fanatic because of what that one dress means,” she says. “It’s a symbol of transformation. Once a woman puts on a wedding dress, it means she’s no longer a young lady. She’s a woman. She’s a wife. She’s walking into a completely new phase of her life.”
Following an initial consultation, Jalona Marie gowns are created in three phases, beginning with design. The wedding dress planner feature on her website assists brides in narrowing down dress elements, and her weekly Facebook broadcast — The Wedding Dress Lab — helps brides understand everything from choosing fabric, to getting measurements done, to selecting the best silhouette for their body types.
“In this phase, we pin down the details of your dress,” Falkner says, “We give you a sketch, an illustration of your dress. There are unlimited revisions to that sketch.
“Once we get final approval on the sketch and the fabric, we move to phase 2, which is the creation or the production phase,” Falkner continues. “This phase takes about 45 days. Your dress is being made. You get sneak peeks of the dress and you get to approve the dress before it’s actually shipped.”
Phase 3 is delivery, when the bride receives her dress in a decorated box and protective wedding dress bag. Each bride chooses a complementary veil to match the gown or a crystal tiara, in addition to an alterations credit of $75.
“That’s actually cash we send out to the bride when their dress is ready,” Falkner says. “Sometimes the dress fits perfectly, sometimes she’s lost weight, sometimes she may even have gained weight in certain areas. It’s her opportunity to perfect the fit. We feel like it makes for a better experience if she doesn’t have to come out of her pocket again for alterations. If she ends up not needing them, she can go get a pedicure or manicure or massage or whatever it is. It’s her money to do what she will with.”
Falkner may not have a brick-and-mortar showroom, but you can view her work on her website, Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest pages.
“I feel like every bride deserves to be her own dream bride,” she says. “We talk a lot about the dream dress. We talk about the dream wedding. But we don’t talk a lot about being your own dream bride.
“I feel like that’s something every bride deserves regardless of her wedding budget, regardless of how much time she has to get ready for the wedding,” Falkner adds. “I feel like every bride deserves to be flawless and in a dress that’s totally a reflection of their personality and style.”
For more information, check out www.jalonamariebridal.com or find her on Facebook, Instagram, or Pinterest at Jalona Marie Bridal.