A one-stop wedding shop in Afton
For many brides, the list of things to take care of may seem never-ending – photographer, florist, wedding dress, jewelry, cake, hair stylist and makeup artist – but what if everything could be found in one place?
That’s what Donae Cotton and Dina Butkevich, owners of Donae Cotton Photography and Dina Catalina Couture in Afton, are hoping to be to brides.
“It makes sense to be a one-stop-shop for brides,” Cotton said.
Even though the two businesses operate separately, they are housed under one roof, next to Baglio’s of Afton.
“It’s crucial for us to maintain our identities but still have that joint partnership,” Cotton said.
A passion for photography
Cotton, originally from South Africa, said her love of taking pictures started at an early age.
“I was always the girl with a camera,” she said. “As a kid, all I wanted was film. I guess I had a photographer’s eye from early on.”
Even though wedding photography makes up the majority of Cotton’s business, about 25-30 weddings per year, she also shoots engagements, family portraits, boudoir sessions, business portraits and headshots, and model portfolio sessions.
“Creating an image for someone that they love is such a gift,” she said. “Women are so fussy about what they look like, so you can just see them light up when you deliver an outstanding portrait of themselves.”
As part of Cotton’s photography packages, she offers viewing sessions where clients can come into the studio and see all of the photos projected onto the wall.
“Seeing their reactions is priceless,” she said.
Donae Cotton Photography opened last year; Cotton had previously had a studio in Minneapolis.
Fashion design has been a part of Butkevich’s life for a long time.
When Butkevich moved to the United States as a little girl from her native Latvia, her family didn’t have much.
“I wanted Barbie clothes,” she said, “So my mom said ‘Here, make your own.’ So, I made Barbie clothes out of old T-shirts.”
With the help of her mother, a seamstress, Butkevich moved up to making her own clothes in elementary school and eventually made her own prom dress in high school.
“I love to design,” she said.
Butkevich’s prom dress was such a success that many of her classmates started asking her to make their dresses. Before long a friend asked her to make her wedding dress.
“I was nervous about it at first because this is something that people will stare at,” she said. “I did it and from then I’ve just been getting requests and referrals. This wasn’t the career path I originally would have chosen though – I went to dental school.”
Butkevich was beginning to get so many wedding dress requests that she eventually opened up Dina Catalina Couture, which includes custom wedding dress orders.
“They’re not your typical cookie cutter dresses that you’ll find at a wedding dress shop,” she said, “and I know how it feels to have something that doesn’t fit right. I understand that a good fit is essential.”
As part of her business, Butkevich said she will often host “alteration parties,” where wedding parties come in for alterations and Butkevich will provide refreshments.
In addition to wedding dresses, Butkevich also sells cocktail dresses, accessories, along with hair and makeup services.
Dina Catalina Couture opened in September; Butkevich was previously in Minneapolis.
‘A portrait boutique’
Cotton and Butkevich have known each other for quite some time, having met through the Twin Cities Wedding Professionals Network, so joining forces only seemed natural.
“It was a good mix for us to join,” she said.
Cotton said a lot of times when she meets with brides about photography services they haven’t even started looking for their dress yet, so having Butkevich right there could only be a positive.
Additionally, having a professional hair and makeup artist, and accessories, in close proximity also helps with the in-studio photography sessions, Cotton said.
“We’re a one stop portrait boutique,” she said.
Cotton and Butkevich said they are hoping to expand the “one-stop-shop” idea by having examples of other wedding services in the shop, such as cake decorations, flowers and invitations.
“We work around the bride’s creativity to make it perfect,” Butkevich said. “Every bride is different.”
“To be sought out is something that we obviously would love,” Cotton said. “We’re not just a shop, we’re an experience.”
Donae Cotton Photography is open by appointment only. She can be contacted at 651-829-1688. Visit www.donaecottonphotography.com for more information.
Dina Catalina Couture is open by appointment only. She can be contacted at at 763-913-6619. Visit www.facebook.com/lealuxe.bridal for more information.