Resolved to make a bold statement of his love for Dawn Harris, his fiancée, Los Angeles sculptor Ed Massey was seized by inspiration: He would design her gown for their June 27 wedding—no flimsy frock, but something sturdy, enduring and sculptural. "Because that's what I do," says Massey, 35, who is known for provocative artworks like the 20-foot Corporate Ladder. His betrothed was reluctant. "I told him it's tradition in my family that my grandmother buys the wedding dress," says Harris, also 35, a songwriter. But she relented. And with the aid of some strategically placed wheels that bore most of the load, she walked down the aisle in Massey's 150-pound masterpiece—four months in the making, fashioned from a cloth bodice, a steel-frame skirt, nine gallons of paint and decked with 1,060 roses handcrafted from cloth and modeling paste, then wired to the skirt and sewn into the bodice. "It's elegant but playful," says Massey, who molded the train in the image of two ducks and 14 ducklings in a pond "to represent family and fertility."

At the nuptials, held in the backyard of friends' Beverly Hills home, the gown drew raves. "It looks like a cake," says Renee Katz, a groomsperson. "You want to lick the icing." Those mystified by the creation, Massey says, need only know his muse. "Dawn," he explains, "is a fairy tale.