I have always dreamed of being a princess and wearing a very beautiful gown on my wedding day. But finding the best and yet affordable couturier that fits our budget who can make what I envision into reality is really tricky. Luckily, I found her. Below is our supplier review for my chosen bridal couture — MEL ORLINA
- Supplier Rating: 4.50/5
- Mode of Communication: Email, Call (if necessary)
- Contact Person: Ms Mel, Ms Michel (staff), Ms Kristine (staff)
It actually took me half a year to decide in shortlisting the names of designers who I want to make my dream wedding gown, to the point that I even created this list HERE with all their rates so I would be reminded who to choose especially with a budget in mind. Honestly, it’s the really limited budget that makes it difficult for me to finally book my couturier. Since we have a lot to consider for the wedding, as much as I want to splurge on my wedding gown, I also don’t want to be selfish and want to make sure that the gown that I would wear won’t cost more than our caterer!
When I contacted my potential supplier around July for my December 2015 scheduled meeting with the designer herself, Ms Mel Orlina, I didn’t really think that I would be paying the deposit right on-the-spot. I went to her old shop in Jupiter St in Makati at past 2.00 PM. There were a couple of bride-to-be’s like me at that time but then when it was my turn to meet with Ms Mel, she was in her friendly and approachable demeanor. I immediately showed her my pegs and sketched 2 designs while telling me she feels would suit me, since I’m petite and has a pear shaped body. Hindi ko na-feel yung this-is-it feeling sa sketches ni Mel, but what made me decide to book her was her gowns — pulido talaga ang pagkakagawa at na-emphasized talaga yung korte ng nag susuot. Plus point also that she can work well on my budget and she has worked with a lot of overseas brides like me before. On our first meeting, even though there wasn’t any “spark“, somehow I felt that I did the right choice.
Since I was an overseas bride she took my measurements personally and informed me of my possible schedule, adjusting well to the time that I will probably be going back to Manila a month before the wedding. That, of course, was also an advantage for me since I want a designer who had worked a lot of times with overseas couples like me who have limited time. By April 2016, I was able to finally choose my peg and sent all the designs that I want to Mel and she replied back with those that she have chosen for me. She then told me through email that she’ll make it work. Our measurement update was supposed to be given again around June-July 2016 but I told her to just push through with my measurements when I was in her shop back in December 2015 and instead sent my updated whole body photos wearing tight leggings.
Around August 2016, I emailed them to inquire regarding my gown’s update since it’s already past the 6 months time. I remembered it well that they usually start doing bridal gowns on an 8-months lead time. Her secretary, Ms Michel was the one that I always communicate with through email on her behalf and they sent me photos of my gown base. The first time I laid my eyes on my gown’s base I felt surprised to see that it already had a form.
From that time on, her staff would promptly answer my questions and entertain my suggestions regarding my gown. Since I couldn’t be there physically to fit the gown, I always made sure that my email is turned on and would reply back quickly whenever I find something off. There was even a time that I didn’t like how the embroidery pattern was attached so they re-attached it before doing the embellishment.
When we finally had our schedule back to Manila, I set the appointment for my 1st fitting on Nov 20, more than a month before the wedding just to be sure that the gown will be a perfect fit and to see it in person. I arrived an hour early for my 2 PM appointment in Mel Orlina’s old shop at Doña Consolacion, Makati.
When I arrived there, I was the 2nd client since there was a bride who’s currently fitting her gown and Mel was looking irritated at one of her staff whilst talking about the gown’s deadline. That was actually the first time I saw her work in person and it was just as I had expected. Then Ms Mel met with me who seemed to changed her look immediately and we then discussed about my peg. She started to sketch on her pad while I was showing her my pegs and then explaining to me what she think would fit me. Napansin ko sa kanya she would really insist on the design that she thinks is okay unless you would say what you want and don’t want. Since we already have a theme back then, I told her I want something related to it as well as saying that I really fancy having “scrolls pattern” for the main design of my gown. I even asked if I could have thick embroidered patterns for my gown to combine with pearls and swarovski, she told me we can deal with that later because usually according to her “brides would always be fickle-minded”. She said that its best that I would send her my final gown pegs at least 6-8 months before the wedding and we’ll work on that. So to close the deal, I paid my deposit right then and there and she took my measurements.
I was only able to see the progress of my gown through the photos that they would send me through email which was really helpful! From that, I would always comment whenever I see something that’s not done right like yung mga small details ng embroidery na mukhang hindi pantay or those that I see na kulang ng details. Everything was smooth and fast except for that one incident with regards to my detachable train. Initially I have a 4ft train as per the contract but before finalizing the details of my train I emailed them that I would upgrade it to 6ft (their longest possible train). They replied back by saying that it’s okay but then after a month I saw that it’s still the same. I quickly asked why and then it so happens that my request was not coordinated with the other staff. They offered me a solution to use the upgrade to a different product (which was already PAID) to a much longer embroidered veil (which I already have in my contract) since gawa na daw yung train ko at hindi na pwede yun palitan. But since I’ve always wanted a really long train, the reason for my pegs, hindi talaga ako pumayag and sinabi ko na hindi ko kasalanan na hindi na- coordinate ng staff niya yung request when fully aware naman sila that it was paid already in advanced. So, they agreed and offered me instead option — dudugtungan nila yung nagawa na train para humaba! Of course nagulat ako sa sinabi ng staff niya na kausap ko and informed them na hindi ako tatanggap ng gown na may dugtong lang since obviously mahahalata yun even if patungan pa ng embroidery and embellishments. With that, Ms Mel called me early in the morning the following day (around 5AM Kuwait time), apologized for the misunderstanding and informed me that she will fix the issue by saying din na hindi nila ginagawa ang ganun since she has a reputation to uphold. Thankfully, problem-solved!
After almost a year I came back for my 1st fitting and boy was I so glad to see my gown! Unfortunately Ms Mel wasn’t there (she was in Paris at that time) so her staff, Ms Kristine, Ms Michel and her main mananahi was the one who took care of everything. The beaded parts were halfway done but then during my fitting I noticed hindi pantay yung part ng design sa pinaka-front which is very obvious.
When I fit the gown, it was just my size though I felt like I gained weight as compared to my initial measurement. I told Ms Kristine about the inconsistency with the embellishment and she said “okay lang yan hindi naman mapapansin yan Ms Aiki.” Of course nagulat ako sa reply niya since I was rather expecting that they would tell me na gagawan nila ng paraan, so I really insisted na ipaayos yun since halatang-halata talaga. Then they started to put a “mesh or illusion tulle” on my top and some embroidery patterns. They told me it was part of my peg but at that time I didn’t really know what exactly would happen to my gown so I just nod and followed them.
After two weeks, I had my schedule for my 2nd fitting. At that time my excitement grew since I already had on what to expect and I wanted to know how it would look like with the almost complete bead work, which is probably around 90% complete at that time if I’m correct. Thankfully Ms Mel was there during my fitting and informed me that the irregularity in the front design was already fixed. Nasunod ang peg ko except that when the mesh/illusion tulle and embroidered parts were applied on my top to give that off-shoulder look, literal na hindi ko magalaw ng maayos ang braso ko. I told Ms Mel that I wasn’t comfortable at hindi ko maitaas ang kili-kili ko. She just told me na it’s normal and that during my wedding, wag na lang daw ako mag kikilos masyado. I was like… Huh?! So I really insisted na I can’t possibly do that and dun ko lang din napansin na yung sa shoulder part is too tight on me. When I went home, I reviewed all the photos and I just didn’t have that it-feeling plus I noticed na hindi bagsak yung design sa may arms which I told her sa umpisa pa lang. So I quickly emailed them and scheduled another fitting since may ipapabago ako.
During my 3rd fitting, which was supposedly my last fitting was 4 days before the wedding, I thought there will be changes with my gown so when I fit it again, ganun pa din. Since hindi talaga ko comfortable, I told Ms Mel again that I really don’t like the top part of my gown since I wasn’t really comfortable and that I was expecting for the embroidery design on my arms would fall and not be too tight. Yung loose ang dating ng off-shoulder ko. She explained that it was tight like that because of the mesh that holds the embroidery pattern which I asked if it can be removed since it’s not what I expected in the first place. She told me “bakit ngayon ko lang daw sinabi eh dapat noon pa dahil mahirap gawin yun since masisira lang yung design sa top“. I replied by saying na “noon ko pa sinabi since yun ang peg ko and I was expecting it too look like that. I even told you last time na hindi ako comfortable,” but she even continued to say things like “alam mo naman na peak season bakit ngayon ka pa magpapabago.” Then I saw her get a big scissor and started cutting the mesh and trying to see what she can do.
My 3rd fitting was a bit stressful which lasted for almost 3 hours since they need to fix the design to make it look like a loose off shoulder and Mel just kept on talking again with “bakit ngayon mo lang kasi sinabi ito Aiki alam mo naman na December na at ilang araw na lang kasal mo na” which was obvious that she’s already annoyed with what was happening. For me as a client, honestly, nakakairita din to hear her, as the designer to say those things and besides she knew from the start na yun talaga ang peg ko so I replied uli with “I did Ms Mel. I even informed you sa email after my 2nd fitting. Ilang beses ko sinabi na off shoulder na pabagsak (sabay pakita ng photo na nasa ipad ko) kasi gusto ko i-hide yung arms ko kaya nagulat ako bakit ganito ka-tight siya lumabas at ang alam ko malinis dapat sa likod na walang pearls pero bakit ako may mesh?” It was clear that I want an off shoulder and showed her a peg that shows that it was loose, na pabagsak siya on the shoulder and not tight just like what they did initially. I even said that nagulat ako na may beads/pearls sa back ng damit ko which wala naman sa peg ko dahil gusto ko malinis tignan. There they told me it’s standard for them since the beads/pearls would hold the embroidered illusion tulle. Buti na lang I was really, really calm at that time and I try not na sumagot pa. Good thing also that my MOH Meann and Man of Honor, Ethel was with me during that time, giving me comforting looks. Besides, I was really thinking that I don’t want any problem especially with my gown since my expectations was really high. So right there and then, Mel took her scissors and started cutting off the illusion tulle and the embroideries while I was wearing the gown and kept on saying, “kasi naman eh..sayang yung embroideries, sayang yung design” , while I, on the other hand, was biting my lower lip to keep my mouth shut kahit gusto ko na sumagot and that so I won’t be forced to speak or else I know baka lang magtalo pa kami.
Then when she cut the whole illusion tulle on my top, I told her that there should still be a design since when I was looking at the mirror, my top suddenly looked plain, even at the back since she removed the embroideries entirely and told me it’s impossible to have it attached because the back was already done. So I asked her right there and then if she can make me a detachable necklace to add something in front. Thankfully she agreed and made me one. When she placed it, naging mas okay kinalabasan. Although the necklace wasn’t part of the initial peg, mas nagkaroon ng buhay yung top part ng gown.
Ms Kristine and yung si ate na mananahi nila (forgot her name, sorry) delivered my gown the night before the wedding at around past 9 PM since we had misunderstandings with the time for the delivery (available lang sila after 7PM) and hindi ko din kasi naibigay agad yung room number ko dahil may occurring problem sa hotel that I was fixing and they were also caught with the traffic. With the so many connected mishaps, I was still thankful that my gown came in one piece, delivered perfectly well and was just awed when I saw it completely done 101%! They placed it in their mannequin stand (which I rented for 3K, refundable payment) and told me na wala talaga available for bridal assistance and again told us what we need to do tomorrow during the wedding pag sinuot ko na siya.
On the wedding day itself, the gown was just as how I envisioned it to be. I even remembered a lot of people approaching me to take my photos in my wedding dress and asking me who did my gown! Feeling artista lang talaga. Looking back, sulit yung travel namin from Bulacan to Makati every time I would do my fittings, and of course the budget that we managed to save by doing extra part-time jobs here just so I can have it. Even with the unforseen issues I had to deal with during the creation of my gown and the price tag that comes with it, I’m still beyond satisfied and super happy with the quality and outcome of my wedding gown! I’m still at high and proud to say that Mel Orlina created my dream wedding gown! ❤️❤️❤️
- My gown was just breathtakingly gorgeous! It was really what I had imagined it to be. Sulit yung tight schedules for appointment, traffic, stress etc that I experienced overall.
- She works well with the complicated and tight schedules of overseas brides like me who only was able to fit my gown 2 months before my wedding day.
- Her rate is affordable given that she’s a reputable and well known wedding gown designer, has great payment scheme and would really work on the client’s budget. She also offers good bridal packages with all the necessary accessories, bridal repair (after the wedding which is a must) and gown assistance on the day of the wedding but would still depend on the dates for her staff’s availability (I didn’t get mine kasi holiday na daw)
- You’ll know the quality of the materials that she uses with her gowns na hindi tinipid and the gowns simply speaks of her work!
- She was also very accomodating and nice to my Mom since she also did her gown and my mom loved it! She actually adored Mel. Nakuha niya yung peg ni Mommy especially with her requests to hide yung mga dapat matago. Very particular pa naman si Mommy sa mga damit. Kung OC ako sa details, definitely mas OC si Mommy.
- They are detailed and prompt with their replies especially with the progress of the gowns through email. They will call whenever it is very necessary.
- Ms Mel’s effort to reach out personally to her client whenever her staff would create a problem and would quickly offer good solution which of course shows her professionalism.
- She also let me borrow one of her gowns for my prenup but this will depend on the availability of the gowns. For budget brides like me, this is super helpful especially if I had no intention to buy or rent a gown for a one-day use only. After your prenup just dry clean it afterwards. (It’s the blue plunging gown in our Save the date video by Vidlens)
- She would really insist the design and style she think fits the bride and if the bride won’t insist or say what she really wants, Ms Mel would do what she initially thought would be best. At times it’s good but minsan magugulat na lang ang bride bakit may ganun na sa design na hindi naman part ng peg. For example the pearl beads on my spinal cord area, too tight embroidery/embellishment for my off shoulder look and the mesh itself.
- Her staff are really knowledgeable but they need to be well aware on how to talk to the client in a manner that they won’t say things na ikakapahamak nila. For example would be when I saw that there were irregularities in the embellishment (hindi pantay yung design), I informed her staff about it but they replied to me by saying na “okay na yun at hindi naman mapapansin” was a turn off since I expect that they would at least inform me they’ll see what they can do to fix it. Also whenever I see things like this and would inform them verbally and through email (with photos) so madali mabalikan just in case, 2-3x ko pa paulit-ulit sila sinabihan before there was even an action taken. They would just say na natagalan kasi busy sila at madami clients which again was another turn off.
- Her staff doesn’t seemed to be well-coordinated with one another since it clearly showed during the issue with my paid upgraded detachable waist train wherein if hindi ko pa napansin sa photos na hindi nagbago yung length ng train ko they won’t double check our email conversations to know that I already upgraded and paid it even before they set it out to be manufactured. Then they would put the blame on me indirectly by saying that I had it upgraded too late when in fact it was very clear in our email conversations (which I print screened as proof and showed it to them) that I informed them about it months ahead of time, that’s why I even managed to pay the upgrade in full.
- I was only informed that I didn’t have any bridal assistant on my wedding day during my 3rd fitting since vacation na daw ng staff niya. I was disappointed of course since it was included in my contract.
- During my 3rd fitting I know she was also annoyed and so am I, at hindi ko lang din talaga nagustuhan yung continuous na pag daldal niya. It was really a turn off at that time, if I didn’t keep my cool probably nasagot ko din siya.
**Tip!** Be sure you would really insist with what you want and not just with what the designer wants. It’s your gown, ikaw ang magsusuot niyan at hindi ibang tao. When meeting with your designer or mananahi be sure to bring at least 3 pegs and work from that.
**Tip!** Be sure to get your money’s worth with all your supplier services so always double check the output and quality. If may nakita ka na mali or hindi ok sayo or hindi ka comfortable, immediately inform them ASAP in a polite and diplomatic manner. Make sure magagawan ng paraan kaya always ask for update. Take photos and videos so you can review your fittings later on, since there are instances na may hindi ka mapapansin during your fitting na importante pala and it would be too late na for it to be changed.
**Tip!** During your fittings, it is highly recommended na may kasama ka na titingin ng gown mo for you and someone who would take photos and videos as well.
Mel Orlina Couture
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