No bride wants their wedding to be boring. Some go through extreme lengths to show their individuality during their special day. And, this bride-to-be knocked it out of the park.
Madeleine Eriksson has spent tens of thousands of dollars painstakingly creating her own Victorian wardrobe. And now, she has revealed how she will be donning a 19th century-era gown on her wedding day.
Developing a taste for the bygone time while working in Surrey as an au pair back in 1998 Eriksson was enchanted by Victorian history and determined to wear her own bespoke bustles and crinolines, she taught herself to sew.
She then moved back home in 2008, and dressmaking took a back seat as she settled into Swedish life again – but, when she met her fiancé Stefan Rohm online in 2014, he encouraged her to resume her rewarding hobby.
“My dresses cost me between £500 (over $600 dollars) and £1,500 pounds (almost $2,000 dollars) to completely finish, and my cellar is full of them – I have between 20 and 30," Madeleine said. “So, when you add it up, I must have spent thousands. I just love the Victorian era and how beautiful everything was back then. I would like to wear my dresses every day, but I can't wear them to work. I wear them as often as I can, though, and when I do, the reaction is amazing. People almost give you more respect, moving out of your way as if you're royalty."
Madeleine taught herself to sew whilst living in Surrey, England (PA Real Life/Collect)
Madeleine's interest in Victorian history was piqued when she moved to England at 21, learning about local history where she lived in Surrey.
“I love everything about the Victorian era," she said. “I know not everything was great back then, but it was a much more beautiful time. Things were so well made, which they just aren't anymore. I'll get antique lace for my dresses that looks brand new, despite being hundreds of years old. I wouldn't get that if I went and bought something modern."
Madeleine and Stefan in Harrods, London (PA Real Life/Collect)
When she met Stefan in 2014 on a dating site and fell in love, he encouraged her to return to dressmaking.
“I introduced Stefan to history and the Victorian lifestyle," she said. “He isn't as passionate as me about it, as I take it quite seriously, but I got him to dress up a couple of times and he quite liked it."
Madeleine and Stefan (PA Real Life/Collect)
Personally, I think these pictures are adorable.
“Now he has some Victorian garments, which he's bought. Men's patterns are quite complicated, so I'm not able to make him anything yet," she added.
Luckily, Madeleine's diligence has paid off and her dressmaking skills have improved so much that it now takes her just days to complete tasks which once took her an entire month. To create each garment, she will first source the material, which she usually does online from sites like eBay or Etsy.
Madeleine said she feels like "royalty" when she wears her gowns (PA Real Life/Collect)
“I try to buy as much original material from the time as I can, but often there won't be enough of it available, so a lot of it does end up being replicas," she added.
Then, she will follow the same set cutting pattern – sourced from a costume company in the UK – before customizing each garment with individual embellishments, like lace or beading.
“Sourcing all the material and hunting for the right fabric is the most time-consuming part. If I'm ordering from abroad, it can take weeks before it gets to me," she said. “It can be expensive too, with the shipping."
Madeleine would love to one day live in a Victorian property (PA Real Life/Collect)
It seems well worth it.
“I do sell some of my dresses, but usually only for what they cost me to make, rather than at a profit," she said.
Now Madeleine has found enough like-minded friends to form a Victorian society where she lives.
“We meet up and go around different museums and events together," she said, adding that she also organizes regular balls for fellow history buffs.
Madeleine will wear a Victorian dress to marry Stefan (PA Real Life/Collect)
“We do get quite a reaction. People are very positive though, and I've actually made a lot of friends through strangers stopping me on the street to ask about my outfit," continued Madeleine. “They are always impressed to hear I made it myself. So far, nobody has been negative."
Not content with only looking like a Victorian lady, Madeline is now keen to have a home like one and dreams of owning a period property – although she currently lives in a 1960s house.
Madeleine said the reactions to her outfits are overwhelmingly positive (PA Real Life/Collect)
But she does include some Victorian elements – even using kerosene lamps instead of electric ones.
“My house is more modern than I'd like right now. I'd absolutely love to own a Victorian house one day," she said. “A lot of our décor is inspired by the era. We use lots of kerosene lamps, for example. It's difficult to live completely without modern technology though. One thing I'd love would be a Victorian kitchen. I would have a few modern appliances but keep them hidden away."
Madeleine and her fiance Stefan (PA Real Life/Collect)
I wonder if she has wifi.
As well as her wedding, Madeleine has lots of other exciting events on the horizon. For one she holds annual exhibitions of her dresses. Next year, she will be opening her very own Victorian café, where she will be able to wear her dresses every day, and she is also writing a book about her passion for the time, which she hopes to complete by 2021.
Speaking of her dream wedding.
“I'll definitely wear a Victorian dress to marry Stefan. I actually made myself one already, but decided I didn't like it and so sold it to a lady in the USA," she concluded.
Madeleine said she loves how "beautiful" the Victorian era was (PA Real Life/Collect)
“I absolutely love the Victorian era and feel very passionately about showing people how beautiful it was back then," said Madeleine. “If there is such a thing as past lives, I'm sure I have been a Victorian before."