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This Pinay Bride Made a Gorgeous Terno-Inspired Gown for Her Own Wedding

She also made her bridesmaids' dresses, her husband's barong, and chic ternos for both her mom and the mom of the groom!
This Pinay Bride Made a Gorgeous Terno-Inspired Gown for Her Own Wedding
IMAGE GLORIA LIANG PHOTOGRAPH, COURTESY OF JILLIAN JOY SAN JUAN
She also made her bridesmaids' dresses, her husband's barong, and chic ternos for both her mom and the mom of the groom!

No silhouette can replace that of the romantic, regally feminine terno. Until recently, we only encountered it in postcards, textbooks, museums, patriotic school events, the SONA, and various themed galas. Now, we're thrilled to confirm that we're witnessing its steady return as a reputable and chic outfit of choice. In fact, Miss Universe 2018 Catriona Gray often sported beautiful terno dresses and pantsuits back in 2020, while Miss Universe 2020 Andrea Meza shared that she fell in love with the terno, and had one commissioned just for her. 

And, of course, we're also seeing a burgeoning interest in Filipiniana bridalwear. Vania Romoff and JC Buendia are among several celebrated local designers who specialize in Filipiniana-inspired wedding dresses, and it actually was Vania who created Jess Wilson's unforgettable minidress for her destination wedding last June. The climbing interest in heritagewear makes a lot of sense: Why bother with conventional gowns when you can float down the aisle bedecked with jusi fabric, callado embroidery, and proverbial butterfly sleeves? 

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That said, we're always on the hunt for stunning contemporary takes on terno wedding dresses. Our routinely scrolling led us to the page of Jillian Joy San Juan, a Toronto-based fashion designer, who just got hitched in a terno dress she made herself

jillian joy diy terno wedding dress
PHOTO BY GLORIA LIANG PHOTOGRAPHY, COURTESY OF JILLIAN JOY SAN JUAN
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The dress she made was a slim, modern terno with a low back and a lovely sweep train detail. Meanwhile, in the accessories department, it looks like ribbons reigned supreme: She styled her dress with a ribbon-topped veil, ribbon-shaped drop earrings, silver rings, and sharp-toed PVC pumps decorated with jewel-encrusted ribbons. For her beauty look, she kept it dainty with a soft, wavy ponytail and fresh, rosy makeup. 

jillian joy diy terno wedding dress
PHOTO BY GLORIA LIANG PHOTOGRAPHY, COURTESY OF JILLIAN JOY SAN JUAN
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We cover a lot of minimalist, practical brides, but Jillian's probably nailed that description in very way. As if creating your own wedding dress wasn't amazing enough, she also made the barong worn by her husband, Stephen, as well as the dresses of her bridesmaids! In addition to that, she also made the ternos worn by her mother and the mother of the groom!

To top it all off, their mini-reception was held in her parents' backyard. What's not to love? 

jillian joy diy terno wedding dress
PHOTO BY GLORIA LIANG PHOTOGRAPHY, COURTESY OF JILLIAN JOY SAN JUAN
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jillian joy diy terno wedding dress
PHOTO BY GLORIA LIANG PHOTOGRAPHY, COURTESY OF JILLIAN JOY SAN JUAN
PHOTO BY GLORIA LIANG PHOTOGRAPHY, COURTESY OF JILLIAN JOY SAN JUAN
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Read our exclusive interview with Jillian Joy San Juan below. 

jillian joy diy terno wedding dress
PHOTO BY GLORIA LIANG PHOTOGRAPHY, COURTESY OF JILLIAN JOY SAN JUAN

Was it always your goal to create your own wedding dress?

"I started designing and creating dresses in high school and once I got the hang of it, I knew I would be making my own wedding dress. I am fairly petite, just over 5 feet and barely 100 pounds, so I already knew it would be difficult to find something I liked that fit me properly. I also usually have specific dress styles that I like to make for myself which would be difficult to find in stores so I figured it would be best to make my own."

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jillian joy diy terno wedding dress
PHOTO BY GLORIA LIANG PHOTOGRAPHY, COURTESY OF JILLIAN JOY SAN JUAN

What’s the story behind your wedding dress?

"At the beginning of my design process, I had a lot of trouble narrowing down the silhouette I wanted. I couldn't decide between going all out and extra with a huge ball gown, or wearing something slim-fitted which was my usual go-to silhouette. In the end I stuck with my go-to and decided on a slim gown that was fitted to the hips with a fairly long train.

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"As we got engaged in late December 2020 and set the wedding for June 2021, I only had a few months to design and make my dress while also working full time and planning the rest of the wedding (not to mention also making my bridesmaids dresses, the mother of the bride and groom dresses, and also my husband's modern dress shirt style barong)."

jillian joy diy terno wedding dress
PHOTO BY GLORIA LIANG PHOTOGRAPHY, COURTESY OF JILLIAN JOY SAN JUAN
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"It was even more difficult as we moved in May, so I started the dress at my parents house, transported it to the new house in pieces, and finished it in our new place. On top of that, Toronto was in lockdown with no in-person shopping, making it hard to gather supplies. In the end, I didn't finish my gown until the week of the wedding!

"Once I narrowed down the silhouette, I knew I wanted something solid white to match the clean, sleek theme of our modern wedding so I avoided lace and other textured fabric. I personally love low backs and went as low as I could with my gown with the sheer part of the back reaching below the natural waist. Of course I wanted the butterfly/terno sleeves and created mine to become slightly more narrow toward the bottom to match the overall slim silhouette. I also made my terno sleeves removable as I only had the one dress and wanted a different look for our mini reception."

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jillian joy diy terno wedding dress
PHOTO BY GLORIA LIANG PHOTOGRAPHY, COURTESY OF JILLIAN JOY SAN JUAN

What advice would you give to a bride-to-be who’s having a hard time coming up with the concept for herdress? Do you have any tips for choosing a wedding dress that’s “right” for you?

"I always advise brides-to-be to try on all the different silhouettes! I did this too when I couldn't decide–I tried on an old ball gown from a previous collection, an A-line, a slim fit, and a mermaid. I've met so many brides who were convinced they wanted a mermaid just from looking at photos of dresses online, and then tried on a ball gown and fell in love.

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"Also, stick to design characteristics that are true to you, or that you always tend to go back to. For me that was my slim silhouette, but this could also be a specific neckline, back detail, or fabric type.

"Lastly, remember, your opinion about the dress is the most important! I always recommend limiting the amount of people you go dress shopping with as each person is so different, and everyone has their own personal preferences. I usually suggest bringing only one or two people along with you who give helpful feedback, as too many different opinions might confuse and persuade you in the wrong way." 

jillian joy diy terno wedding dress
PHOTO BY GLORIA LIANG PHOTOGRAPHY, COURTESY OF JILLIAN JOY SAN JUAN
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As the old adage goes: Your wedding, your rules. We're totally taking notes from Jillian's sleek, practical wedding, and we might even be considering taking sewing classes ASAP. 

Congratulations, Jillian and Stephen! 

Jillian Joy San Juan is a fashion designer based in Toronto. She creates custom gowns and ternos for her brand, Jillian Joy Handcrafted. 

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