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Whoa!  Last year I wrote a post marking the momentous occasion of my best-bud-from-egg-stage’s anniversary (yes, she married a hunter).  I had no idea how popular a topic that was, but man-o-blog-post has that article pulled the hits over the last year!

Which brings me to a lovely lady I’ve had the pleasure of meeting as a result of just that post – Mrs. JoAnne Schnepp – Intrepid Entrepreneur and the owner of White Lace and Promises and A Touch of Camo, LLC.  Yes, that’s right – the lady that makes camouflage wedding dresses, and she has a mighty compelling story.

JoAnne started helping her wedding photographer husband with his business in 1981.  As kind of a natural progression, this led her into the gown industry in 1998.  JoAnne takes a passionate personal interest in her clients, particularly brides getting ready for their weddings. She’s enjoyed working individually with brides to create custom or replica wedding gowns in the past.   JoAnne says, “I loved helping the bride develop and create her idea of the perfect gown on paper, then working with my excellent network of talented dressmakers and seamstresses to make her dream come true! “  Her custom gown business is on hold at the moment, because right now she’s looking for talented new seamstresses to work with her, so if any of you are interested, leave a comment and I’ll be happy to pass your information along.  So drop us a line!

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“But camouflage wedding dresses”, you might ask. “How the heck did that get started?”

Don’t laugh. I can understand your skepticism if you weren’t born into the same Southern “Hunting is Life” consortium that I was.  But look a little deeper and you’ll find that Southern hunters are part of a rich tradition, involving weekends at luxurious private retreats with hunt buffet dinners to rival anything you’ll find in a five-star restaurant.  Ever read Garden and Gun?  If not, here’s the link.  Get yourself educated (and get a subscription while you’re at it.  I want that magazine to be around for a loooong time).

Enough about me – back to JoAnne and her fascinating story.

In August of 2007, a bride from Texas contacted JoAnne through  her website, asking if she could add some satin camo to her already-purchased wedding  gown. The groom-to-be really wanted Mossy Oak camo incorporated into the wedding theme (which may seem odd for a groom to be so opinionated, but serious hunters are just surprising like that).  JoAnne, always up for another custom wedding dress challenge, said yes.

As JoAnne recalls, “She shipped me the dress from Texas, and I worked with her to define just what kind of camo touches she wanted. I must admit I had to search quite a while to find Mossy Oak bridal satin, which at that time was not an easy thing to do.  But find it I did!  I packed the Mossy Oak satin up with the dress and shipped it to my Bulgarian dressmaker, who’d agreed to do the job.  Yes, the wedding dress and the Mossy Oak camouflage satin all made a side trip to Bulgaria!  In about a month we accepted delivery on a gown what was absolutely beautiful!   We were just amazed!”

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The gown was so surprisingly lovely that we took some pictures and gave the gown a name – Heather – after the bride.  My husband and I put some of the pictures out on the Internet, just to see if there was any interest in camouflage-accented wedding gowns. It was a complete hit!  The pictures had been on the web site for only about two weeks when I got a second order.  And by November of that year, I had orders for two more, but NO DRESS MAKER!  I’d lost contact with my Bulgarian connection, and my one US seamstress then was busy with other work and could not help.  I was in a panic!”

JoAnne frantically started looking for a US factory or anyone to help fill the mounting orders. No luck, but then one day the phone rang.  The woman on the line had seen JoAnne’s website and wanted to sell her on an advertising deal.  The caller also recognized that JoAnne was onto something truly unique, and she asked for an interview, too.  “HA!” says JoAnne.  “I had to tell her we’d only made three gowns, and that I had a lot of orders now, but no one to sew for me.”

JoAnne truly believes that God is good when someone is on the right track.  And sure enough, the caller knew just the person in Louisiana who could handle the job.  She put JoAnne in touch with Judy, owner of not only three bridal salons, but also a factory!  They talked on the phone, carved out a deal straight away, and they’ve been Partners in Camouflage ever since.

As JoAnne tells it, “For the first 6 months, we asked brides to submit pictures of styles they liked, and then we made “custom” wedding gowns in camo – designing patterns on the computer.  Judy also had quite the inventory of existing patterns, so she would also check those to see which ones would best convert to styles made with Mossy Oak.  We’d present the drawings to the bride, she would make her decision, and the gown would then come to life down in our little Louisiana factory.”

In their first year working together, the duo sold 200 gowns.   During the 2008-2009 wedding season, they’ve sold over 600 camouflage  gowns to date!  Now they carry over 80 styles, plus lots of different options for customization, “…so a gal can create a gown very unique to her, and know that no one else will ever be seen wearing the same style!”

Wedding Cake Topper - Camo Turkey Hunting Funny Hunter Themed

You know I just had to ask, “JoAnne, what’s the most unique request you’ve ever had?”, thinking there had to be some doozies.  Here’s what she said:

“Would you believe that this happened just this very week?  I had a gentleman call up wanting to rent an all-camo gown to wear in a play!  Seems a group of guys lost a dare of some kind and, as a result, they were forced to create a play where they are all women characters!  He went to a lot of trouble to explain that they were all married men and this was not a scam.  Of course I was happy to help him, but I did ask for pictures from the play night.  He REFUSED!  I think I understand, as he said he didn’t want pictures of him wearing a woman’s dress showing up all over the Internet.  Little does he know that it might happen anyhow, if anyone takes a picture during the play?”

JoAnne doesn’t stop at just the camouflage wedding gown, either.  “Yes – I also enjoy helping brides plan out some of the details for their camo-themed weddings.  I’m not a professional wedding planner by any means, but I do get to see lots of details because brides share their wedding pictures with me. “

“A camo-themed wedding can be a totally informal, outdoor occasion or it can be very formal, elegant and traditional.  Or mix it up – have the formal wedding in the church, remove the detachable train and veil, and run off to an outdoor reception on a ranch or farm!”

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“Work the mossy oak pattern in your decorations with table runners, place mats and chair wraps.  Did you know there is mossy oak tulle available, too?  It looks lovely draped around the tables or weave some in around the centerpiece or down the center of a long table.”

Centerpieces

“You can create candle centerpieces by buying inexpensive fat candles, then hot glue shotgun shells (empty ones!) Around the bottom, then toss some randomly around the table.  Buy silk fall leaves or better yet – save up some real ones and scatter those under the shells.  Put the same fall leaves in your flowers, and use cat tail, sunflowers, pheasant feathers, turkey feathers and wrap with mossy oak ribbon.”

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“In our camo line, we’ve identified 15 colors that go well with the mossy oak pattern.  We mail out fabric swatches of all these at no charge to our brides, so they can coordinate flowers, table cloths, bridesmaids colors, etc.  We also carry a whole line of honeymoon lingerie, swimwear for guys and gals and other lounge wear in mossy oak.  Oh yes – and we have hot pink camo in that line too!”

Cranessa-wedding

Entrepreneur JoAnne has crafted a fascinating business out of a niche market pretty quickly, but she hasn’t lost her personal touch – the hallmark of her success.  I’ll end with a true “JoAnne quote” to better illustrate the dynamic, caring nature of this businesswoman:

“If anyone out there is considering a camo themed wedding, don’t hesitate to contact me.  I don’t need to make a sale to be helpful to anyone who’s interested!  I love working with brides to help create the day of their dreams – it’s my passion.  My contact info can be found at www.laceandpromises.com and there you can also see some of the designs.  By the first of next year, the new camo website will be live in all its glory at atouchofcamo.com. “

Celebrating camouflage wedding dresses and the sharp women who craft them today.

Please remember to Celebrate Something Everyday!

Just a few of the possibilities…


A traditional wedding gown with halter top and full mossy oak train

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White snowfall satin camo over tulle.  Also available in the darker camo colors with ivory tulle underlay.

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Detachable mossy oak train and beautiful lace-up back make this dress a true stand-out!

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