We had a lovely conversation, and she told me all about her experience creating Jinger's dress. She also answered the questions that you submitted to our blog a couple weeks ago. Here are the first three Q&As. More great content and pictures coming soon.
Ellie: How did the Duggars find out about your bridal shop?
Renee: I have watched the Duggars on TV with great admiration and respect for years. When Jill and Jessa got engaged and married, I started thinking how wonderful it would be if I could design a wedding dress for one of the Duggar women.
I have served clients with similar modesty standards, and I believe that every bride should have a gown that makes her feel beautiful. Modesty doesn’t have to look tacky. Just because you have certain standards doesn’t mean you should have to take a dress that you don’t feel comfortable in and haphazardly add pieces. My heart’s desire is for all brides to look fashionably correct, regardless of the style of their dress.
One month before Jinger’s July 2016 engagement, I met a woman named Wendy through mutual friends from my alma mater, Pensacola Christian College. She co-owns Ava Laurenne Bride in Fredericksburg, Virginia, and I soon found out that Jill Duggar Dillard had purchased her wedding dress from Wendy's shop in 2014. Wendy and I agreed that if Jinger chose me as her dress designer, I would use Ava Laurenne Bride as the meeting place.
website and Facebook page. They liked what they saw, so Jinger and I began laying the groundwork for her bridal gown.
Ellie: How did you start the design process?
Renee: Before Jinger and I met, we exchanged many texts and phone calls. I tried to listen to her heart, which was difficult because we hadn’t yet met face-to-face. I prayed that I would be able to create a unique dress that would fulfill her dreams.
I made three protype gowns, packed them up, and flew to Virginia to unveil them to Jinger. That meeting will air on the season three premiere episode of Counting On (Monday, January 16th at 9pm ET/8pm CT). After spending five minutes with Jinger, I told the producer that I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt which of the three dresses she would choose. Jinger tried each of them on and ended up choosing the one I had predicted. That kind of thing happens ever day in my store, and I believe it’s the result of prayer and God’s guidance.
Ellie: Did Jinger know exactly what she wanted, or did you help her envision the completed dress?
Renee: I asked Jinger to scroll through pictures and give me five pictures of looks that she liked, and through those five pictures, I was able to start designing. She knew she wanted lace. She knew she wanted an A-line skirt, not a ball gown. She didn’t want it to be too princess-y. And she knew she wanted sleeves, and of course, modest.
After meeting Jinger, I was able to make changes and add embellishments to the dress. Jinger didn’t know all the details of what I was doing. She shared her heart with me and then cut me loose to let my creative juices flow.
Both Jinger and Jeremy desired for the dress to have what I call a 'train fit for royalty,' based on a Bible verse that Jeremy had quoted to his wife-to-be. That verse was Isaiah 6:1 (...I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple). When Jinger tried on the three prototype dresses, she always looked at the train before she looked at the front, so I knew that was her heart. I wanted the train to be the center of attention.
The dress that Jinger chose had a long train, but I knew I could really hit it out of the ballpark if I could extend that train even longer. The extension actually didn’t come together until a couple weeks before the wedding.
Photos courtesy Renee Miller